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On Sunday (12/4) the Parish of St. Margaret of Scotland, in Lowell, founded by Cardinal William Henry O'Connell, the fifth bishop of Boston, who was himself from Lowell over 100 years ago, celebrated their centenary. They had a number of activities throughout the course of the year, culminating with the Mass. Father Raymond Benoit has done so much for the parish and school there. They have renovated the whole church. It looks very beautiful, particularly its many icons. The parishioners were all very enthusiastic to celebrate the 100th birthday of the parish, and I was pleased to be able to join them for this auspicious occasion.
Cardinal's Leadership Circle Gathering
That evening, we had the Advent gathering of the Cardinal's Leadership Circle, which was a Mass and a reception at the Pastoral Center in Braintree. We hold this event each year to express our thanks, and to talk to the Leadership Circle about activities and events in the life of the archdiocese. We are grateful for all this group does in leading and supporting our archdiocese.
Gathering with the recently ordained
On Tuesday (12/6) we had our regular meeting with the group of recently ordained priests. We started with a Holy Hour and Vespers and were followed by a discussion, which was a very fruitful way to be able to continue the conversation begun at the convocation. Talking about our ministry as priests going forward, is always a wonderful exchange, one that I found personally very enlightening. I know that the young priests enjoy the opportunity to get together.
Meeting with New England pro-life offices
Periodically the directors of the Pro-Life Offices of New England gather for prayer, planning, and sharing, as we did on Wednesday (12/7). This time, two of the primary topics we discussed were the post-abortion healing ministry Project Rachel and the attempt to legalize physician assisted suicide. We were all particularly interested in hearing the experience of the people in Vermont, who have been successful at staving off attempts to legalize what they call "Physician Prescribed Death." Deacon Peter Gummere from Vermont showed us some television spots prepared for Vermont, for this project.
Bishop Libasci Installation
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception (12/8), a feast of such joy and advent hope, was a wonderful time to inaugurate the pastoral ministry of the new bishop of the Diocese of Manchester, N.H., Bishop Peter Libasci, who was formerly the auxiliary bishop of Rockville Center. The new nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, was there to read the Holy Father's Letter of Appointment. In my remarks after Communion, I called on all the Catholics of New England to join our brothers and sisters of Manchester in praying for the blessing of their diocese, and the ministry of their new bishop.
Visit with president of the Catholic Church Extension Society
I was visited by Father Jack Wall, the president of the Catholic Church Extension Society, an organization that supports home mission dioceses. When I was Bishop of the Virgin Islands, where my initial budget for the entire diocese was $30,000 a year, I was very grateful for the support that I received from the Extension Society. Many rural dioceses in the United States, particularly those in the southwest with growing Hispanic populations, become the beneficiaries of the generosity of the people who support the Extension Society. One of the ways they raise awareness of their ministry is through the Catholic Extension Calendar, which helps them promote their work.