Following Christmas, Cardinal O'Malley traveled to Puerto Rico to ordain a deacon, a priest, and a bishop. The ordination of Bishop Alberto Figueroa was held in the Carmelite church of Santa Teresita. Pilot photo/CardinalSeansBlog.org
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Happy New Year to you all!
On Thursday, the day after Christmas, I traveled to Puerto Rico because on Friday morning, the feast of San Juan, there was the ordination of the new Auxiliary Bishop of San Juan, Bishop Alberto Figueroa. Later that day, I also ordained a deacon and priest for the Capuchin Friars in Puerto Rico. So, it was the first time in my life that I ordained a deacon, a priest, and a bishop on the same day!
They were both beautiful celebrations. The bishop was ordained in the Carmelite church of Santa Teresita because the Cathedral of San Juan, while it is very beautiful and dates back to the time of Christopher Columbus, is very small. So, to accommodate the large crowd, Archbishop Gonzales held the ordination at this church because it is one of the larger parish churches in San Juan.
Then, in the afternoon, I went to Rio Piedras for the ordination of Deacon Gamalier Martinez and Father Roberto Colon.
Rio Piedras is on the outskirts of San Juan, where the Capuchins have the parish of San Antonio de Padua.
I had worked in Puerto Rico when I was a subdeacon but have not gotten back much since Hurricane Maria struck in 2017. When I was a young friar working in the Diocese of Arecibo, the only means of transportation there were jeeps and horses. Back then, it took about six hours to travel from San Juan and, to get to our chapels, we had to travel on horseback. Today, you can be in Arecibo in probably about an hour-and-a-half on the highways that have been built since then. But, unfortunately, Arecibo, which is a coffee-growing area in the mountains, was severely affected by Hurricane Maria. So, travel is not as easy as it would otherwise be.
The Church of San Antonio is about 350 years old, and the Capuchins have been there since its founding. Like many of the small towns in Puerto Rico following the Spanish-style, Rio Piedras is centered around a plaza with the city hall on one side and the church on the other -- putting the church at the heart of the community.
Brother Gamalier was ordained a deacon and Brother Roberto was ordained a priest in the same Mass. It was a beautiful celebration.
At both ordinations, there were, of course, many wonderful Christmas hymns and villancicos. Christmas is a very important time in Puerto Rican culture. They have many different Christmas carols, and Christmas really culminates with the celebration of the Epiphany and the arrival of the Three Kings on horseback in all the towns.
Christmastime is a wonderful time to be in Puerto Rico and, even though my visit was only a couple of days, it was very good to be there and to see the joy generated by the ordination of these men to serve the Church in Puerto Rico.
New Year's Eve Mass
I went to St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine in the Back Bay for our New Year's Eve Mass.
The Mass is celebrated with a pro-life theme, and before the Mass, we pray the Rosary for Life.
It is always a wonderful way to end the old year and begin the new -- in the celebration of the Eucharist.
New Year's Day
New Year's Day, in addition to being the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, is also Haitian Independence Day. So, each year I celebrate a special Mass in French and Haitian Creole at the cathedral for the Haitian community of the Archdiocese of Boston.
We have the third-largest Haitian community in the United States -- after Brooklyn and Miami -- and the Mass is always very well attended. This year, I believe, we had more than 1,500 people join us.
They always conclude the Mass with the singing of the Te Deum in Latin (which is a New Year's tradition, especially in Europe), and after the final blessing, they sing the Haitian National Anthem.
Each year after the Mass, I spend a great deal of time greeting the people at the back of the cathedral and wishing them a happy New Year.