'From there, we went to visit Pine Street Inn, which is just down the street from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.' Pilot photo/CardinalSeansBlog.org
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...On Friday (12/23), I went to have lunch with the residents of Regina Cleri, our retirement home for priests in Boston. In addition to visiting with the men there, I also wanted to check in to see how Bishop Frank Irwin was doing after his recent operation. As always, the sisters did a wonderful job decorating Regina Cleri for the Christmas season. It was wonderful to be able to visit with our senior priests at Regina Cleri.
Visit to Teen Center
On Saturday morning, Christmas Eve, I went to the Catholic Charities' Teen Center at St. Peter's in Dorchester for their annual distribution of Christmas gifts to children, following a tradition started by the late Mayor Menino.
...We were also very happy to be joined by Boston Police Commissioner William Evans and Mayor Marty Walsh as well as a number of local priests, including the pastor of St. Peter's, Father John Currie, Father John Connolly, Father Jack Ahern and Father Doc Conway.
We are very proud of the fine work that goes on at Catholic Charities Teen Center. Paulo De Barros has been the director for some time, since he took over from Brother Tino, and does a marvelous job.
Visit to Pine Street Inn
From there, we went to visit Pine Street Inn, which is just down the street from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. I was greeted by the executive director of Pine Street, Lyndia Downie, who showed me in and helped me get set up for the meal service.
I gave a blessing for the meal and then helped to distribute the lunches, both in the men's section and the women's section. There are always a number of families that go to help serve the meal on Christmas Eve, and I always enjoy the chance to meet some of the volunteers.
...I spoke to a number of the media at Pine Street Inn. It gave me an opportunity to try to focus on some of the themes around homelessness in our community, namely the lack of care for people who are mentally ill or are suffering from addictions, and the lack of sufficient housing, particularly for people with low wages. (Today, you can be working full-time and still be homeless.) These are all challenges that our modern society has to deal with, and we're not doing very well at it. But Pine Street Inn, St. Francis house and Boston Healthcare for the Homeless are efforts that we can all be very proud of.
The problem of homelessness exists all year round, not just at Christmastime. But I'm very happy that, at Christmas, the media take this opportunity to focus on this important issue. As I always like to remind people, at the first Christmas the Holy Family was homeless, and after their homelessness in Bethlehem they ended up being refugees to Egypt.
St. Francis House
On Christmas morning, I went to St. Francis House, where I visited the volunteers and the residents who gather there during the day. We had a Christmas service together with the singing of carols.
We were so happy to be joined once again by Father Bob Kickham's nephews and niece who assisted us with the music. It was a beautiful celebration and an opportunity to reflect on the Christmas message with the people gathered there. I reminded them that St. Francis was the first to initiate the Christmas creche, because he wanted people to see how Christ was born in poverty and homelessness.