From Cardinal Seán’s blog

The New Bedford immigration raid. Here in Massachusetts news reports have been filled with alarming news about a situation in New Bedford in which over 300 undocumented workers were apprehended by immigration services last Tuesday. The problem seems to be compounded by the fact that the owner of the factory had a huge government contract and then used that money to run a sort of sweatshop in which the workers were treated very poorly.

We are concerned that some parents were apprehended and their children were separated from them. I understand that the government is trying to rectify that.

The other problem is that some of the immigrants are being shipped off to other parts of the country to be put in detention centers. That will certainly make it more difficult for them if their relatives and friends are here in Massachusetts.

I have appealed to Sen. Edward Kennedy and the head of immigration services to see what can be done on behalf of the workers so that those families will not be separated. They were very receptive to my appeals, and both of them assured me that they would do whatever they could.

This event underscores the great need we have for immigration reform in the United States. In many areas of the country, we do not have enough workers to perform certain types of labor. Our economy is dependent upon immigrants. It is, therefore, important that people be allowed to immigrate in an orderly and legal way so that they will have the protections that all workers have. In that way, their human rights and dignity will be safeguarded.

In the past there has been too much exploitation of workers who are allowed to be in the country when it is convenient for us and then are often exploited or expelled when it becomes inconvenient. That is not a way to treat people. We are hoping that the United States Congress will approve comprehensive and fair legislation that will take into account the needs for security and the protection of workers’ rights.

Lenten retreat in Puerto Rico

I flew to Puerto Rico to give a day of recollection for the diocesan priests of the Archdiocese of San Juan. I had been invited by Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez, who was formerly an auxiliary bishop here in Boston. I was pleased to be a part of it.

The theme for the retreat in Puerto Rico was the mercy of God and the priesthood. I spoke to the priests about God’s mercy in the Gospels and how it expresses itself, particularly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, of which we are the ministers. I spoke about the Cure d’ Ars -- St. John Vianney -- Padre Pio and our own relationship with the sacrament. I tied that into the Lenten season and the spiritual renewal to which we are all called.

The priest has a special role as the dispenser of God’s mercy. As priests, we need to take time to deepen our own relationship with the Lord and experience His mercy so that we can dispense His mercy to His people. We also celebrated a holy hour and benediction with the priests.

Visiting Lawrence Central

Catholic High School

On Thursday, I visited Lawrence Central Catholic High School. They have 1,300 students there, and the Marist brothers have served at that school for quite a long time. There are still several brothers on the faculty including Marist Brother Rene Roy, who is the president how attentive they were. They participated and paid attention to the homily. They have a wonderful group of musicians and a choir that did a very nice job. The singing was exceptional! After the Mass, they gave me some socks to wear with my sandals in the cold weather and a huge umbrella. It’s one of these big golf umbrellas, and it has red on it!

Also in this post:

> Meeting the Discalced Carmelite’s definitor general

> Meeting the Consul General of Venezuela in Boston