Priests reflect on past five years at annual cookout

In a courtyard at Brighton’s St. John’s Seminary, more than 120 priests and seminarians enjoyed hot dogs, hamburgers and fellowship on Aug. 6. The annual gathering is scheduled for near Aug. 4, the feast day of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests. Pilot photo/Neil W. McCabe

More than 120 priests and seminarians gathered at Brighton’s St. John’s Seminary on Aug. 6 for a holy hour on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. During the cookout that followed five priests individually reflected upon the cardinal’s first five years leading the Boston See.

The holy hour and cookout is an annual event scheduled to fall near the Feast of St. John Vianney, the Curé d’Ars and the patron saint of parish priests. Cardinal Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley, who was scheduled to preside, could not attend the event because his flight from the Knights of Columbus convention in Quebec City was cancelled.

In the place of the archbishop, Father Arthur L. Kennedy, the rector of St. John’s since July 2007, presided over the evening prayer service in the school’s chapel and Father William T. Kelly, the director of clergy support, was the prayer and song leader. Before the prayer service, Father William T. Schmidt, the pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Stoneham, presented a lecture on the history of the archdiocese in light of its priests and bishops.

Father Kennedy told the priests and seminarians that in focusing on the Feast of the Transfiguration, he was reminded of Flannery O’Connor’s observation that “Evil is not simply a problem to be solved. It is a mystery to be endured.”

The life of the priest is to know both the glory and suffering of the Lord, Father Kennedy said. It is something they all shared together.

Father Kennedy was at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington when he heard that Cardinal O’Malley was to lead the Archdiocese of Boston. “My reaction was to think that this was going to be a difficult and important mission for any man to take up.”

The overriding theme of the past five years, said Father Kennedy, has been the one the cardinal focused on when he arrived: St. Francis rebuilding the Church.

“It has been a slow process and I am sure for him there have been periods of suffering,” Father Kennedy said. “But, he has been a great and wonderful shepherd helping both priests and laity understand some of what I was talking about today on the Feast of the Transfiguration and the mystery of suffering. It is only through God’s grace that we can be transfigured.”

Father Michael C. Harrington, the assistant director of vocations for the archdiocese, said he was a priest living and working at St. Paul Parish in Wellesley when he heard the news that the cardinal was coming to the archdiocese.

“I was familiar with the work the cardinal had done at other dioceses and how he helped them get through tough times,” he said. “I was pleased because it meant that now we could start to look forward. Cardinal Seán was the right person at the right time.”

Father Harrington said he has vivid memories of the installation Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. “It was a powerful experience. We were in the midst of so much difficulty at that time in the archdiocese. We were constantly being barraged by so many different things. To finally see our new archbishop installed was very touching.

“It got great coverage. It was all over the newspapers and TV. It was like the whole world descended on Boston--especially since Boston was Ground Zero for so much of the controversy over sexual abuse.”

The cardinal arrived at a trying time for the priests, he said. “Prior to Cardinal Seán being named, we were often left surprised and shocked by what we continued to see happening in the archdiocese. No one could predict week-to-week or day-to-day what was going to come out next.”

From his position in the vocations office, Father Harrington said he has witnessed the cardinal making extra efforts to be at the seminary and to help men discern their vocations.

Father Harrington said that he often receives letters and e-mails from seminarians who say that meeting with the cardinal or hearing something the cardinal said motivated the man to accept his vocation.

Father Paul Sullivan, who was ordained in May from Blessed Pope John XXIII Seminary in Weston, which is a seminary for men over age 28, said he was working in the admissions office of Magdalen College in New Hampshire when he heard of the appointment.

Sullivan, whose brother is Father John M. Sullivan, the pastor of St. Mary of the Annunciation Church in Melrose, said he entered the seminary in 2004 and there was a hopeful feeling among his classmates about the leadership of Cardinal Seán.

“Let’s face it. We wouldn’t have entered a seminary if we didn’t think there was hope,” he said.

“I think a lot of us just admired his courage for coming into a situation like this,” he said. “It was obvious to us that he was doing the best he could to solve some serious problems.”

Father Joseph F. Mozer, a canon lawyer, said he had just completed an internship at the Archdiocesan Tribunal, where he now works, and was preparing to enter The Catholic University of America in Washington to study canon law when he heard about Cardinal Seán’s appointment.

“I was very grateful to have the opportunity to attend his installation Mass before I left for Washington because it gave me sense of who he is and what his hope and desire was for the archdiocese and his mission as our archbishop.”

Father Schmidt said there has always been a great deal of pride in being a priest of Boston, but that pride has been sorely tested over the last seven years by the actions of a few.

Because of the need for crisis management in his first years, the cardinal did not have the freedom to focus on his priests as much as he wanted to, he said. “He had a very loving response to the victims of sexual abuse by priests and he needed to get us through that, and then help us as priests to get beyond that.”

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 ...