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From Cardinal Seán's blog

'Finally, yesterday afternoon we had our annual Advent Gathering for employees here at the Pastoral Center. As we always do, we began with a Mass followed by a reception.' Pilot photo/CardinalSeansBlog.org

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As I concluded my post last week, I was still in Rome for meetings of the council advising the Holy Father. Our meetings went from Thursday to Saturday. We were all very moved to hear the Holy Father's account of his trip to Africa, particularly the Central African Republic, a country that has been so torn by sectarian violence and war. The Holy Father's presence there was a great source of hope. It was particularly striking to see him visit the mosque there and pray. In his visit, he brought Christians and Muslims together and challenged them to work for reconciliation from peace and to resist those radical elements that are inciting people to violence.

This was our twelfth meeting as a council and, this time, we heard a report from Cardinal Sandri, the head of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. He updated us on the congregation's activities and the work they do in the field of ecumenism. We also reflected on the pope's recent address on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops, where he spoke about the synodality in the Church and decentralization. As we continued to look into the next steps to reform the Roman Curia, we also spoke about matters related to the economy and Cardinals Marx and Pell provided us with insight on their work in that area.

I also reported to the council on the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, particularly around working to develop education initiatives and providing assistance to episcopal conferences as they develop their own guidelines.

Cathedral restoration

And although I was unable to be present, I am so grateful to Bishop Uglietto for celebrating the beautiful Mass for the opening of the Holy Door at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross for the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. We were also glad that the new bells that have been installed in the Cathedral were able to be rung for this important celebration.

In fact, also this week I celebrated a special Mass for those benefactors who have helped support the restoration and cleaning of the cathedral and the installation of the bells. While certainly there is still work to be done, the progress in restoring and renovating the cathedral has been impressive. The process has gone along in several stages. First was fixing the lower church, then there was the repointing and cleaning of the outside of the cathedral and, of course, the installation of the bells. Eventually, we hope to be able to make more improvements to the interior of the cathedral though already they have renovated the sacristy, which is greatly improved.

Presbyteral Council

Thursday (12/17), we had one of our regular meetings of the Presbyteral Council of the archdiocese. During this meeting we had an opportunity to hear reports from the various regions of the archdiocese. These gatherings of the Presbyteral Council are very important for pastoral planning and the life of the archdiocese and we are so grateful for the seriousness with which the members of the Council take their responsibilities.

Pastoral Center gathering

Finally, yesterday afternoon we had our annual Advent Gathering for employees here at the Pastoral Center. As we always do, we began with a Mass followed by a reception. At the reception there is always a drawing for different small gifts and prizes -- including the coveted parking spots in the Pastoral Center garage. The Advent Gathering is our way of expressing our gratitude to our people for so generously serving the entire Catholic community of Boston through their work. It is always a joyous celebration and we are grateful for all they do.

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