On Tuesday (2/21), I met with Bishop Francis Kalabat, bishop of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, which encompasses the eastern United States. He was here with one of his priests visiting the Chaldean community in Boston and came to greet me. We were very happy to welcome them to the Cathedral.
During his time in Boston, he celebrated Mass for the Chaldean Catholic community at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish in Newton and he also visited with Mother Olga Yaqob who is, of course, also from Iraq herself.
The see of his Eparchy is in Michigan, which has always been a large center of Iraqi Christians in the United States, where there are about 150,000 Chaldean Catholics. Of course, the situation in Iraq has caused a great deal of immigration from that country because of the persecution of the Church there. It was very discouraging to hear his reports of how the people are suffering, with the destruction of churches, the intimidation that people face and the great number of people who are refugees from Iraq. It was very moving to hear his experiences.
Archdiocesan Pastoral Council
That evening, we had one of our regular meetings of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, at which we had a very good discussion among the members on evangelization practices in their own experience and the experience of their parish. We had a very lively and interesting exchange.
Also during the meeting, we welcomed a number of new members. I am so grateful for their willingness to serve in this important role in advising and informing me. We are very grateful for all the time that they devote to this vital task.
Visit to Our Lady of Providence Seminary
On Wednesday (2/22), Father Carlos Suarez of our Vocations Office accompanied me to visit our four Boston seminarians who are studying at Our Lady of Providence Seminary in Providence, Rhode Island. It is a college seminary program so when they finish there, typically our seminarians from Boston return here to attend St. John's Seminary for their theological studies.
I celebrated Mass for the seminary community of 22 seminarians from all over New England. Bishop Bob Evans was concelebrating with us, along with the rector, Father Christopher Maher, and other members of the faculty. After the Mass, I joined the seminarians for dinner and a time of conversation.