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From Cardinal Seán's blog

'Sunday (3/23) I went to St. Rose of Lima in Topsfield for a parish visit.' Pilot photo/CardinalSeansBlog.org

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This week all of Boston is mourning the loss of firefighters Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh and Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, who were tragically killed fighting a fire in Boston's Back Bay. Yesterday (3/27), I visited the firehouse these men were stationed at and had a chance to speak with some of the firefighters. The death of these two men brings home to all of us how courageous those who work in the fire department are, they who are always willing to put their lives at risk to keep us safe. This is such a human tragedy -- these men were so young, one of them with small children-- and the whole community is moved at what has happened. In moments like this, we tend to come together as community and have a sense of our solidarity with each other. I know that will be a source of strength to the families of these two courageous men as well as their companions in the fire department. We hold them up in prayer and we urge all of the members of the community to keep them in prayer especially in these days as they prepare for the funerals next week.

Parish visits

Last Thursday (3/20) I went to St. Rita Parish in Lowell for a Vespers service to welcome the Merrimack Region's new regional bishop, Bishop Robert Hennessey. There were over 50 priests in attendance for the service and the dinner that followed. I saw a great spirit of camaraderie and joy among them in receiving Bishop Hennessey to the region. The Merrimack region is blessed with many religious communities that are helping the archdiocese in our ministries there, particularly the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Augustinians, and we were pleased that so many of them were present at the Vespers service.

Saturday (3/22), I visited St. Edward the Confessor Parish in Medfield to celebrate confirmations. About 150 young people were confirmed at two different Masses, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, because church would not have held all those who wanted to attend. It is always a great joy for me to be with the young people as they make this very important step.

Sunday (3/23) I went to St. Rose of Lima in Topsfield for a parish visit. It was a lovely Mass that was standing room only. Father Michael Medas is the pastor there and, at the end of the Mass, we presented the former pastor, Father Arthur Driscoll, with a rosary. Father Driscoll is 89 years old and is still helping out at the parish.

St. Vincent de Paul Mass

That day (3/23), the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Archdiocese of Boston held its 65th Annual Mass of Thanksgiving and Breakfast. The society is in 159 parishes of the archdiocese and there are over 2,300 Vincentians in the archdiocese who give so much to help the poor and needy. Over 750 people attended the Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Uglietto at Our Lady of Victories, and the breakfast at the Park Plaza. The guest speaker there was National President Sheila Gilbert. Sheila, who is the first woman to hold the office of president, spoke about ending poverty through systemic change.

Later in the day, I had the opportunity to meet with Sheila and the archdiocesan president Robert Travers, Jr. to hear more about what the society is doing and the programs they are offering in the archdiocese and throughout the United States. We also talked about collaborating with Catholic Charities and other organizations that assist the poor in Boston and United States. Sheila also invited me to be the keynote speaker at its 2015 Annual Meeting in Providence. I am grateful to the many volunteers who give their time to minster to the poor and needy of the archdiocese.

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