I begin this week noting the passing of an extraordinary man. Tom Flatley, who had been suffering for almost two years with Lou Gehrig’s disease, passed away last week. I was very pleased to be able to celebrate his funeral Mass at St. Agatha Parish in Milton where he attended Mass each day.
Tom was a very, very dedicated Catholic. He used to say that his only job was to get to heaven and to take as many people with him as he could.
Over the course of his life Tom helped countless people. He had a great passion to help the poor and he did so much to help Catholic causes — locally and throughout the whole world. His death was mourned by many, but the witness of his Catholic life — the centrality of the Eucharist, his spirituality and the strong family life that he lived and witnessed to — is a legacy that the Archdiocese of Boston will always cherish.
Before the funeral Mass, I was in the sacristy with Bishop George Coleman, who came up from Fall River, and he mentioned to me that he had been speaking to the Missionaries of Charity. They told him that they had called the Flatleys to let them know that they were praying for them. His wife, Charlotte, was speaking to the sisters on the phone, but the sister said she could hear Tom Flatley in the background saying, “Tell the sisters I am going to see Mother Teresa.” I’m sure he has.
Visiting the Franco-American School
On Saturday (May 17), I went to Lowell for they were celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Franco-American School, which began as an orphanage. The Oblates and the Sisters of Charity of Quebec have always been the ones sponsoring this institution that has done so much good in Lowell.
The school’s venue is a beautiful house with lovely grounds.
Located on the property is a beautiful grotto, which is a replica of the shrine at Lourdes, France. The Mass was held outdoors there. It had been raining all night, but as soon as the Mass started, the sun came out and everyone was so pleased.
They had two choirs who sang many beautiful French hymns.
The principal, Sister Lorraine Richard, was so gracious and the Mass was very well-attended. There were over 500 people.
Boston College Commencement
On Monday (May 19), I went to Boston College to give the invocation at their commencement ceremony. It was a wonderful celebration; the day could not have been nicer.
David McCullough received an honorary doctorate and gave the keynote address.
He has won Pulitzer Prizes for his historical books — his biographies of Harry S. Truman and John Adams. He has also written extensively on the colonial period in the United States and George Washington. He lives at Martha’s Vineyard, but he is originally from Pittsburgh.
As I say, sometimes writers are great writers and not very good as speakers, but McCullough was a most engaging speaker. He gave a beautiful reflection on the real meaning of education. He was very witty, very erudite. Certainly, it was a wonderful choice to honor him.
Father William Neenan was presented with an honorary degree and the rest of the recipients were graduates of Boston College. One those whom they honored was a member of my own community, Brother Celestino Arias. Brother Tino founded Catholic Charities Cape Verdean program here in Boston and did so much with Cape Verdean youth.The other honorees were Jennie Chin Hansen and Anne Jones.
I told Father Leahy that I think holding up graduates who have done such positive work in the service of humanity with their careers is a wonderful idea. They can serve as role models and inspiration for the young people graduating this year.
Meeting with the American Jewish Committee
Thursday (May 22), I met with Father David Michael and a number of people from the American Jewish Committee. It was a very cordial meeting, and we have very good relations with the Jewish community here in Boston.
I am very grateful to Father David Michael and Father Ed O’Flaherty for all that they do.
They spoke about their desire to have greater opportunity for dialogue, particularly the possibility of bringing Catholics and Jews together to look at our scripture texts in order to build a deeper understanding of each others’ faith. We agreed that we would work toward that goal.
Until next week, I wish you all a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and remember in your prayers the seven men who will be ordained tomorrow at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. May the Lord bless them and make them holy priests.
Also in this week’s blog:
? Ceremonies with the Franciscan Friars of the Primitive Observance
? Attending the wake of Sister Catherine Mulkerrin, SJ
? Meeting with pastoral associates and business managers
? Celebrating Mass for the Mariological Society of America
? Master of Arts in Ministry Program graduation
? Catholic Charities Spring Gala