Saturday afternoon (May 24), I celebrated a lovely Mass at St. Ann Parish in Dorchester. The current pastor, Father Tom Foley, was there and will be coming to work in the chancery. Father Sean Connors, the incoming pastor, was also present.
I noticed that in the church there was a rose window with the image of the lamb and a depiction of a pelican on an altar. In my homily I explained the symbolism of those images.
I told them that the Lamb of God, of course, is a very biblical image for Christ that comes, first of all, from John the Baptist who points out Christ to his disciples and says, “Behold the Lamb of God.” That phrase actually appears six times during Mass; five in the English Mass. It alludes to the paschal lamb of Exodus where the blood of the lamb on the doorposts brings deliverance to God’s people. Then, the lamb becomes the center of the Seder meal to remember God’s saving action, and Jesus is the lamb at the Last Supper.
The pelican is a lesser-known symbol for Christ that comes from the Middle Ages. It really resulted from people misinterpreting the behavior of pelicans. People saw the pelicans feeding their offspring and thought the pelican wounded itself so that its blood could nourish the young.
Of course, we understand now that pelicans catch fish, predigest them and then feed them to their young. Jokingly I asked the people if they like sushi; I don’t, but pelicans do! In any case, people saw the blood and thought the pelicans fed their own blood, and therefore it became a symbol of Christ who has wounded himself to feed us. It’s a beautiful eucharistic symbol that is not biblical but comes from the tradition of the Church.
St. Thomas in beautiful poetry and songs for the Feast of Corpus Christi, calls Christ “Pie Pelicane Jesu Domine” which translates to “Pious Pelican, Jesus the Lord.”
Celebrating 50 years as priests
(On Tuesday May 27) we had Mass for the presbyteral class of 1958 in celebration of their 50th anniversary. It was wonderful. So many of the priests from that class from other dioceses actually were there. One priest, Msgr. John Ecker, came all the way from Yakima, Washington. Father Clem DuFour came from the Diocese of Fall River and priests from other parts of New England were also there.
It is always a wonderful celebration, and there was a nice dinner afterwards.
(On Wednesday May 28) I went to Boston University for the awarding of the Medeiros Scholarships, which are presented to 14 students from our Catholic schools each year.
BU president Dr. Robert Brown made the presentations and spoke about Cardinal Medeiros. He pointed out that 300 young Catholics have received this wonderful, four-year full scholarship since it began in 1986. He also thanked Sister Clare Bertero and the other members of the committee who helped select the recipients.
Dr. John Silber, the former president, was also there. I publicly thanked him for being one of the architects of this program.
In my comments to the young people, I said that so much has been given to them that they must look for the opportunity now to give back. I encouraged them to be an active part of the wonderful campus Catholic community there at BU. The campus ministry is so strong there with the hard work of Father Paul Helfrich, the Brotherhood of Hope and Sister Olga Yaqob.
Leadership of the Catholic Foundation
On Thursday, James (Jim) Mooney Jr., Craig Gibson and Scot Landry joined me for lunch.
The lunch was to thank Jim for his many years of service as president of the Catholic Foundation Board of Governors and to welcome Craig as our incoming president. The Catholic Foundation exists to help fund the many important ministries, works and programs of our archdiocese.
One of it’s major annual initiatives is the Catholic Appeal. All of us at the archdiocese are grateful for the hard work of Jim, Craig and many other board members as well as the professional staff of the Catholic Foundation.
Also in this week’s blog:
> Seven men ordained for Boston
> Confirmations at St. Tarcisius Parish in Framingham
> Groundbreaking for a mixed-income housing development in Brookline