NORWOOD -- Catholic teachings on the value and importance of family impact the world, the Church, and the priesthood, according to speakers at the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of the Archdiocese of Boston's Fifth Annual Gala Dinner held in Norwood June 22.
Speaking before the keynote, rector of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary Father Antonio F. Medeiros noted the importance of strong marriages in family life, bolstering young men in their faith -- some of whom discern vocations to the priesthood.
"Different as married life is from religious life such as the priesthood, yet in a world that is ever more hostile to any signs of the transcendence of God, marriage and the priesthood are two formidable companions of the way in which God constantly calls men and women to life and to love -- in marriage, as in the priesthood," said Father Medeiros.
According to keynote speaker and honoree Catholic University president John Garvey, the uncoupling of children, sex, and marriage as a result of the wide-spread use of artificial contraceptives has damaged society, morality, the Church, and even the very women that proponents of contraception intended to support.
"Contraception took what was once a single contract involving and linking sex to marriage and babies, and made it into three separate contracts. Sex is one thing, having babies is another, and making a life-long commitment is still a third. Whereas sexual union once implied a commitment not only to a possible baby, but also to one's partner as the mother or father of the child," he said.
Garvey noted that Catholic teaching regarding sexuality linked the procreative act with marriage in a way that prepared young people for sustained commitment in marital life.
"The discipline required to wait for sex until marriage is good preparation for the discipline required to remain faithful in a marriage. The honoring of potential children expressed by avoiding sex and the risk of pregnancy before marriage forms habits associated with being a good parent," he said.
He used the example of the film "Juno" to emphasize the impact the societal changes have had on young women. In the film, a 16-year-old from Minnesota named Juno copes with her decision to keep her child conceived in premarital sex. She finds a childless couple, Mark and Vanessa, she hopes will adopt the baby. By the end of the film, Mark decides he no longer wants to have the baby, be part of the family, or continue his marriage to Vanessa.
"The tragedy of contraception is not just that it increases the Junos in the world, it also increases the Marks," he said.
Also honored that evening, Robert M. Mahoney, the president and CEO of Belmont Savings Bank. Mahoney serves on the Archdiocese of Boston's Finance Council, chairs the council's Finance and Real Estate Steering Committee, and has held various community leadership positions in Massachusetts serving families and young people.
In his remarks, Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley spoke about the importance of vocations in the life of the Church.
"We are and have always been an immigrant Church, but today the immigration is not coming from Ireland, and Italy, and Lithuania, and Poland, but coming from Latin America, from Asia, from the Caribbean. The wonderful vocations from the Redemptoris Mater seminary are equipping us to be able to give the kinds of pastoral services that we need to the Catholics who are coming to our archdiocese today," said Cardinal O'Malley.
During the evening, a video presentation highlighted the importance of the family as a witness to the world.
"Well what I see is that in the family is the environment where you can see the love, love as a gift of self, generosity many times, being in communion, and this is really a beginning to be the right environment for the beginning of a vocation, which is also, the vocation of the priesthood, is about giving oneself, loving people, being generous, and giving oneself totally to God and then to the people of God," said Father Israel J. Rodriguez, a priest formed at Redemptoris Mater who grew up the oldest of a family of twelve.
Vocations pursued at the Redemptoris Mater seminary arise from the Neocatechumenal Way, an international itinerary of faith formation within the Catholic Church. Boston's Redemptoris Mater Seminary was established on Sept. 11, 2005. The seminary takes as its primary mission the formation of priests to serve in the new evangelization in Boston and throughout the world, and sustains itself entirely through donations.
Fernando Vivas, a second-year theology student from Nicaragua, said he appreciated the support of the community and those who attended the Gala to support the seminary. He also noted how important he thought the discussion at the Gala was.
He said he appreciated talk from Garvey, the cardinal, Father Medeiros, and the video about "how the family is a mission, and also the most integral part of the family, which is not only the relationship among them but among spouse and wife, and how this communion in their love shone in their marital language. It is also a sign of communion to people outside, and how this sign is bring forth the love of God that is communion," he said.
Previous honorees at the Redemptoris Mater Seminary Gala Dinner have included Cardinal O'Malley; the late Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi; Rabbi David Rosen, an internationally renowned figure in Catholic-Jewish relations; and the current Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria ViganÒ.