Boston men and women gather in faith

Top: Cardinal O’Malley joins with more than 3,000 participants at the Boston Catholic Men’s Conference March 17. Below: Christina Perron prays at the March 18 Boston Catholic Women’s Conference. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy; Bottom: George Martell photo

SOUTH BOSTON--More than 4,000 men prayed, sang and worshiped together March 17 at the Boston Catholic Men’s Conference held at Boston’s Convention and Exhibition Center.

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, standing with Scot Landry, one of the founding organizers of the event, just outside the rows of vendor tables, said he was excited by the growth of the conference and the men’s group movement in the three years since the first conference.

The cardinal was a full participant in the day’s programs. He heard confessions. He sat in the front row to hear the four keynote addresses. He greeted and chatted with other attendees as he made his way between the different areas, such as the rows of vendor tables, the main speakers’ room and the confessional room upstairs, where he heard confessions with dozens of his brother priests. At the end of the day, he celebrated the conference’s closing Mass.

The emphasis this year was on helping the attendees reach a deeper and more sustainable participation, said Karl Wirth, another founding organizer, who was the conference’s master of ceremonies. “That’s why we reduced the number of speakers from five to four.”

The speakers this year were former Swiss Guard Andreas Widmer; Father Roger Landry and his twin brother Scot, who heads the archdiocese’s development office; Carl A. Anderson, the supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus; and Cardinal Peter Turkson, the archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghanda.

Widmer’s talk mixed his personal interactions with Pope John Paul II and the leadership precepts he observed in the pontiff.

Pope John II was a conservative man, who didn’t always accept conventions, he said. When he learned that Romans hated no one more than the Gypsies and the homeless, he commenced audiences for only Gypsies and only the homeless.

Before John Paul II, it was the custom of the Swiss Guard to kneel before a pope, either as he passed by or when he was addressed. John Paul II ended this practice and issued instructions for members of the guard to shake his hand when they met and for them to look him in the eye when they spoke.

The Landry brothers spoke from twin pulpits, trading turns. Father Landry is the pastor to St. Anthony Church in New Bedford and the editor of The Anchor, the newspaper of the Diocese of Fall River. They shared lessons from their upbringing and how they were putting lessons to work to shore up today’s Church.

As the supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, Anderson is the CEO of the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization. Anderson opened his remarks with a true crowd-pleaser, “To be in Boston on St. Patrick’s Day with thousands of Catholic men--It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Anderson spoke to the special difficulties of being a Catholic American, with specific references to the Church’s struggles in Massachusetts. “It has never been easy to live a Catholic Life.”

In 1854, the Know-Nothing party took over control of Massachusetts state government and passed a law banning Catholics from holding office in the state, he said.

Yet, 106 years later, a Catholic from Massachusetts and brother knight, John F. Kennedy, was elected the first Catholic president, he said. Two years later, John W. McCormack, also a brother knight, became the nation’s first Catholic Speaker of the House, he said.

“1960 was not the year our challenges ended. They simply changed,” he said. In Massachusetts, and the rest of the country, there are threats to freedom of conscience that attempt to coerce Catholics into performing abortions, distributing contraception and placing orphans in same-sex households.

“Attacks on the right of conscience have never been more serious,” he said. “Catholics are put in the impossible position of either violating the law or violating their conscience.”

Anderson said in the past and in the future, the Knights of Columbus will continue to stand up for religious freedom and confront anti-Catholic bigotry regardless of the opposition. “When the prince has fallen, the mercenary of the conscript may leave the field of battle to the enemy. But, not the knight.”

The Church in Africa has much to share with Catholics in the rest of the world, said Cardinal Peter Turkson in his address.

In the 1969, Pope Paul VI declared in Uganda that Africa was the new homeland for Christ, he said. But, now the African Church is looking outward and sharing the unique experience of the African family life as a universal template.

“In an African family, we don’t talk about rights, we talk about obligations,” he said. “All members of the family have a job to do.”

The African family is held together by collectivity and solidarity, he said. “These are best celebrated when the family comes together for a common meal.”

The cardinal said in 1994 at a Synod of African bishops, they developed a comprehensive teaching and worshiping document called “The Church as the Family of God.”

After each speaker, Wirth directed the audience to thought-provoking questions in the program. He also encouraged participants to record their own impressions in the programs for later meditation.

Throughout the day, in the interlude between speakers, Martin Doman, a singer-songwriter, who produces eucharistic praise and worship programs for the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., led the audience in song and facilitated worship.

“This year, we wanted to focus on the life after the conference,” said Wirth.

With an eye towards sustainment, the organizers set up breakout sessions on how to start men’s groups in their own parishes and a lessons-learned workshop for up and running men’s groups, he said.

Organizers inaugurated awards for the archdiocese’s Catholics of the Year, presented to the previous year’s outstanding layman, religious or deacon and priest, said Wirth, who made the introductions and the presentations.

The Priest of the Year was presented to Father David Barnes, the pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Beverly.

The Layman of the Year was presented to Dr. John Bratton, of Christ the King Church in Mashpee.

The Deacon or Religious of the Year was presented to Brother Rahl Bunsa, a member of the Brotherhood of Hope, a community of brothers whose mission is the New Evangelization, Wirth said.

The brothers focus on campus ministry locally at Boston University and Northeastern University, he said.

This year’s attendance was down from last year’s 5,200, which organizers ascribed to the brutal storm that hit the city Friday evening.

One attendee from Chelsea, who called himself Justbo, said he was in Memphis when his flight was cancelled, so he rented a car and drove the 20 hours to make it.

Another group of six men from the parish of St. Margaret Church in Seldon, N.Y., was originally 12 before the weather made the others drop out, said Frank C. DeStefano, the group’s driver for the eight-hour journey from Long Island.

DeStefano was also the group’s innkeeper. When they arrived in Boston at 4 a.m. Saturday, there were no hotel rooms available, he said. Nowhere else to go, the men slept in his van until the conference doors opened at 8:30 a.m.

The snow challenged the scheduled speakers, as well, said Widmer, whose speaking slot was as the last minute replacement for “Pope Fiction” author Patrick Madrid. “We tried to fly him into three different airports before giving up.”

Widmer said Martin Doman flew into Manchester, N.H., and drove down to Boston and Carl A. Anderson drove up from New Jersey.

Standing on stage in front of the crowd of men was a very powerful experience, he said. “It is hard not to be moved as 4,000 men recited the Lord’s Prayer together.”

Nation
Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Nation
Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

World
Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Local
Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Local
Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Local
Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Local
Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Local
Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

Nation
N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

Nation
U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Nation
Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

World
Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

World
Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

World
In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Nation
Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Nation
Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

World
Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

World
Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Nation
Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Nation
Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...

Nation
Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Nation
Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Nation
Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

World
Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

World
Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

World
Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Nation
Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

World
Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Nation
Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

World
Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

World
What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

World
Catholic workers say U.S. aid cuts to Palestinians could be disastrous

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- The U.S. budgetary cuts to humanitarian aid institutions helping Palestinians could lead to long-term disastrous consequences, said ...