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With the new liturgical year starting this coming Sunday, the Archdiocese of Boston begins the celebrations to mark the bicentennial of the erection of the diocese of Boston on April 8, 1808.
This is a time to contemplate our past, to recognize the sacrifices of so many who offered their lives to announce the love of God to their contemporaries and build the foundation for the Church in Boston to continue the mission of spreading the Gospel to ever-new generations of Catholics.
This time is most importantly, however, an opportunity to look into the future, to understand who we are and what our mission is.
Much has been accomplished since Bishop Lefebvre de Cheverus was appointed the first bishop of Boston amidst a profoundly anti-Catholic political and social climate.
Nurtured by waves of immigrant Catholics from Europe in the 19th century and followed by more recent immigrants from Latin America, Asia and Africa, the Catholic Church has grown to become the largest religious denomination in Eastern Massachusetts. It now comprises a vast number of organizations that not only care for the souls of its members but care for the welfare, education and health of the broader community as a whole. Since all aspects of society are intrinsically connected with Christís commandment to love and serve one another, that is a natural evolution of the Churchís growth.
But despite the archdioceseís tremendous growth and the undeniable contributions to society, we must not approach this anniversary with a triumphalistic mentality. Our recent past -- and even present -- reminds us that much more must be done so that the world will perceive the Church as a mirror of Godís love for each individual on this earth.
The clergy abuse scandal and parish and school closures have led some to have a pessimistic view of the future of the Church. We need to develop renewed sense of mission and discipleship that, conscious also of our failures as a Church, will reenergize our faith.
If all that we do -- aiding the poor, educating children, caring for the sick -- is filled with a sense of mission, the Archdiocese of Boston will find its way through history to continue being the light of the world and the salt of the earth.