“The [Congolese] community presented me with the gift of beautiful vestments in the African style. It was a wonderful present.” Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy
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Speaking at Temple Emanuel in Andover. It was the first time that I’ve spoken in a synagogue in Boston. I had been invited to speak in synagogues in other dioceses, and I was happy to have my first opportunity to do it here. There was a very large congregation present — also many Catholics came to be a part of the celebration, which was nice. It was an opportunity to bring Catholics and Jews together. Many of the priests in the area and the friars from Merrimack College have come to know the rabbi and were a part of the celebration.
It’s important for us as Catholics to cultivate these friendships with the Jewish community and to work to achieve greater understanding and cooperation.
In my remarks to them I spoke of the influence of the Jewish traditions on our Catholic faith.
I began speaking about the holiness of the Sabbath: how in the Catholic tradition we have the Lord’s Day, which for us is the Sabbath, and that we share the same concept of giving a time to God and to rest. I also spoke about the Ten Commandments, the Psalms, the Scriptures, and of course the fact that Jesus and Mary, the Apostles and the first Christians were all Jews. I went on to explain how the Mass — which is the most sacred thing that we have and the center of our lives — is very much tied to the Jewish experience. The liturgy of the Word is very much based on the synagogue service, and the liturgy of the Eucharist coming out of Jesus’s celebration of the Seder meal which He makes the context of giving us the Eucharist.
Celebrating Mass with the Congolese community
The following day the Congolese community at St. Mary’s in Lynn invited me to celebrate the Sunday Mass with them. I was with our new deacon — Deacon Charles Madi, who was ordained in January to the transitional diaconate.
They have a wonderful, vibrant community there. Some of the young African Jesuit fathers who are studying at Boston College celebrate Mass for them regularly and there is a lay woman, Jacky Kalonji, who serves as coordinator of the community.
I was very impressed with their celebration. I celebrated the Mass and preached in French. The songs were both in French and in their native language, Lingala. The music was beautiful, and the Mass lasted for around two hours. They said it would have been much longer, but in Lent they keep things more austere!
They have a wonderful choir of young people. The congregation was full of young families with many young children. Many of them live in Lynn. Msgr. Paul Garrity, the pastor at St. Mary’s, hosts them there.
After the Mass we had a luncheon. It was typical African food with fufu, cassava and plantains and more. The community presented me with the gift of beautiful vestments in the African style. It was a wonderful present.
Also in this week’s blog
• Attending the annual convocation of permanent deacons
• Visiting Boston seminarians studying at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia
• Attending the New England Conference for Catholic Education
• Attending the gala-dinner of the Catholic Schools Foundation’s Inner-city Scholarship Fund
• Anticipating Holy Week