Several times a year I like to meet with the priests who have been ordained in the last 10 years for a Holy Hour followed by a meal and conversation about priestly spirituality, ministry and the situation of the Church. So, last Thursday (3/13), I gathered with them here at the Pastoral Center. This time, the topic of our conversation was the Holy Father's apostolic exhortation "Evangelii Gaudium." We had a very lively conversation in which the priests shared their own personal reactions and those of their parishioners. These gatherings are always a great opportunity for me, as the bishop, to be with these young priests, share with them and listen to their concerns and aspirations. I know they always enjoy each other's company and look forward to being a part of these events. Just as I meet frequently with the young priests, I also try to meet periodically with our seminarians. Friday (3/14), I gathered at the cathedral with our seminarians who are in their second year of pre-theology as well as our college seminary seniors. We prayed Vespers together, shared a meal and enjoyed a long conversation. I always appreciate these opportunities to get to know our seminarians better.
Visit from family
Saturday (3/15), I was visited by my cousins who were in town for St. Patrick's Day weekend, Suzy O'Malley Stevens and her children, Andrew and Kathleen. I spent some time with them during the day and then in the evening we went to dinner. It was lovely to be able to visit with them.
CUA board meeting
That afternoon (3/17), I left for Washington D.C. to attend the board meeting of the Catholic University of America. I was very surprised that while we had a sunny, beautiful St. Patrick's Day here in Boston, down in Washington, they had snow. We are very grateful to CUA President John Garvey for the wonderful job he does there. They have done a very good job of the modeling a Catholic identity at the university and fostering cooperation between the academic community and the Bishops' Conference. I sit on the Student Life Committee and it is impressive to see the wonderful campus ministry program that they have at Catholic University.
D.C. and New York conferences
From CUA, I went to Loyola University in Baltimore for their "Francis Factor" conference on the first year of Pope Francis' pontificate. I was asked to give the keynote. Over 3000 people were in attendance and it was edifying to see the great interest that the people have our new Holy Father and their enthusiasm for his pontificate and his message. Wednesday (3/19), I traveled to New York for a very similar event sponsored by the American Bible Society, which was organized by my good friend Mario Paredes. The moderator was Kenneth Woodward, who had been the religion editor at Newsweek and is the author of several books including, "Making Saints," and the panelists were the editors of America, Commonweal and First Things.
Presbyteral Council meeting
I returned to the diocese early Thursday (3/20) morning to take part in our monthly meeting of the Presbyteral Council. This was the first Presbyteral Council attended by Bishop Peter Uglietto in his capacity as our new moderator of the curia. We also welcomed our new episcopal vicars, Father Jim Flavin and Father Gerry Petringa. It was wonderful to have them aboard and welcome all three of them in their new roles.