Tuesday, January 26, 2016

John Allen at SJS - Streaming Video!

Here is a stream of John Allen's great evening with us at the Presentation Lecture Hall last night!  Thanks to all who worked so hard to make this possible!  The end of the video has some technical difficulties due to a fading battery.  Our apologies!


Monday, January 25, 2016

Tonight's event with John Allen, Jr is ON!

Friends, we are all finally almost home and tonight's event with Vatican analyst, author, and Boston Globe editor John L. Allen, Jr. is still ON!

Our chat will take place at the Our Lady of the Presentation Lecture Hall in Brighton's own Oak Square (680 Washington St, Brighton). It is free and open to the public, with ample free parking just a few doors further up the street at 710 Washington St.

We will be taking audience questions both during and leading up to the event. Please send yours to AskJohnAllen@gmail.com to be considered! Details are below. I hope to see you there!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Conversion of Saint Paul and the Seminarian

First, he has a history…with tents, a Cilician  Jew, at Gamaliel’s feet, a zealot of a somewhat violent temperament.

Just like you.  You have a history.  A narrative with inspired chapters and some whose pages you might wish to read more quickly. Like you. An engineer, or oceanographer.  A religious ed director, or a manager at Target.  Of  Dorchester, Providence or North Adams or Millbury.  Who used to sit at the feet of the Jesuits or the Dominicans or a secular brood.  Of a peaceful, unsettled or inquisitive mood.

Like you, as well when along the road he is blinded by the light and knocked off your high horse.  

Maybe it was after that relationship crashed and burned, or that old lady made you cry, or you found such solace sitting in front of the tabernacle or that course made such sense of it all or…  On whatever road, you, like Saul, were blinded by the light and knocked off your high horse, just left lying there by the side of the road.

But then what happened?  You’ve been blinded the light…now what?  You meet Ananias, who teaches you to see again,.to see rightly.  At first, you only see him, but then he teaches you about the “the God of our ancestors” and how “the Righteous One” has chosen you to “hear the sound of his voice” and “witness before all to what you have seen and heard.”

Maybe this Ananias has a last name like McLaughlin or O’Connor, Cessario or Scorzello or Salocks, Riley or McRae.  Maybe he’s Ananias Moroney or Pignato, but he is the one who God has sent to open your eyes and your ears that you might see and hear the one who is the blinding the light.

And then there is the mission.  You long for it.  You prepare for it in this holy house, where you can hear the voice behind the light calling to you:  ‘I chose you from the world…go out and bear fruit that will last”1 ‘Go into the whole world…drive out demons, speak new languages, lay hands on the sick” and proclaim my Gospel to every creature.’2

So, today we celebrate the feast of the conversion of Saint Paul, as we celebrate our own conversion and call, formation and mission, that we might be “witnesses to [Christ’s] truth in the world.”3


1 - Conversion of Saint Paul, Gospel Acclamation.

2 - Cf. Mark 6:5-18.

3 - Conversion of Saint Paul, Collect.

A Homily While Still Stuck in the Snow

The airports and train station remain virtually closed today, so it looks like Monday is the day of the great exodus from Washington D.C.  We celebrated Mass for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time in our hotel room this morning.  Here's my brief homily on dewfall, snowfall and the Holy Spirit.

They were hungry, with n’er a restaurant in sight, neither in the hotel nor across the street.  Hungry, in the desert and alone.  Except for a God who loved them enough to promise them Bread from Heaven; for “when the dew evaporated,” it left a hoarfrost of manna for them to eat.  He gave them bread, having all delight within it, in the quiet, unseen, gentleness of the dew come down from heaven. (Ex 14:13-15) 

And that was just the first time.  For whenever we are hungry, afraid or lost in the desert, the Lord covers our misery with a dewfall of his favors, a snowfall of his mercy.  He drenches a tired earth with his faithfulness and breathes hope into our souls. (Lam 3:22-24)

Did you notice how dirty and tired and dark the capitol looked the day we arrived.  On cloudy days, the district has a way of looking grayer than any other city.  But then we awoke…to streets and sidewalks and even the capitol dome all covered in white, anointed, cleansed and reborn.

And if God can do that with snow, imagine what he can do when he descends upon the earth will healing in his wings and sends the Holy Spirit to transform those two little unleavened hosts into the gift of finest wheat, the very victim offered on the altar of the cross for our salvation.

So, come Holy Spirit, descend like the dewfall upon these gifts, that they might become the real heavenly bread, his flesh for the life of the world. (Cf. Jn 6:30-31)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Still snowing...

The snow has picked up again, but a few of us ventured out, some for lunch and some for doing good deeds, like helping the police push a taxi stuck in the snow.
(Left to right) me, Monsignor Caron, Denis Nakkeeran, Matt Gill, and Brian Morris

Can you make out the Capitol Dome in the distance?

And it's still snowing...

About a dozen brave souls are still in D.C., leftovers from the March for Life, braving the storm.  We should all get back to SJS sometime tomorrow. Meantime, the blizzard is still raging in the nation's capital, sometimes with near whiteout conditions.  Cardinal O'Malley is stranded, as well, across the city from us.  Here's a photo of His Eminence with some of our best and brightest during the March yesterday afternoon.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Marching with the Snowflakes

SJS was in Washington D.C. this weekend (some heading out as the storm arrives, some riding the storm out).  The snowflakes were just beginning to fall on Constitution Avenue as the march began. Last night we had Mass with Cardinal Dolan and a packed Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, this morning began early with a 5am Holy Hour led by Deacon Chris Bae and then, shortly before the march began, Cardinal O'Malley celebrated Mass for us at the National Shrine of the Sacred Heart.


A baby in a manger is proof enough for Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York that Americans can express a culture of life.

And it wasn't the Christ child. Instead, it was a newborn infant left by his mother in the crib of a manger scene at a parish in the New York City borough of Queens.

Calling it "a sad but gripping tale" in his homily during the opening Mass Jan. 21 of the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, Cardinal Dolan, said, "No one knew where the baby had come from, or who left him there ... until, a week later, the sobbing mother, a young Mexican woman, remaining anonymous, told her story to a journalist."

Cardinal Dolan, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops' pro-life committee, recounted the mother's words, noting the irony that the woman had left her baby at Holy Child Jesus Church:

"I was so afraid, and, all alone in the house, suddenly went into labor. I must have been in excruciating pain for at least two hours. I started pushing because, each time I did, the pain would let up. I pushed for 15 minutes and finally the baby, a boy, finally came out. He didn't cry at first, so I was afraid he was not all right. I didn't know what to do, so I left the umbilical cord on. I wrapped him in a clean towel and started to look for some place safe and warm.

"I'm very religious," the woman had continued, "so right away I thought of my church, Holy Child Jesus (in the Brooklyn Diocese). I go there a lot, and the priests and people are so good. I just knew if I left him in God's hands, my baby would be OK. So, I ran into my church and put him in the empty crib. Then he started crying. I just hoped he was warm enough. I hid in the back of church, knowing Father would find my baby and the people would care for him. They did."

"True story," Cardinal Dolan said, "and I submit it to you, the jury, this evening, as Exhibit A in our case for promoting the culture of life."

He added, "It's not far-fetched to imagine another scenario, what might have happened: that mother's legitimate and understandable apprehension and isolation could have led her to Planned Parenthood.

"She could have been going to a parish which she found cold, unwelcoming and, impersonal, where she did not feel safe, and where she would not have been inclined to turn in her crisis," Cardinal Dolan said. "Or, in those fretful minutes after her baby's birth, she might have run to a church only to find it bolted-up, with a sign on the outside telling her, probably in English, to come back during office hours. Thank God that scenario remains only a 'might-have-been.'"

He said later, "We are summoned to be such agents of conversion." The way to do that, Cardinal Dolan said, was "by imitating those priests and people of Holy Child Jesus Parish in New York City, by acknowledging that Jose, that abandoned newborn baby (named for St. Joseph, Jesus' foster father), Jose was nowhere more at home than in the empty manger of their parish nativity scene, because he, too, is a child of God."

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Christmas Draws to a Close

As the Christmas Season draws to a close, everyone is heading back to Saint John's Seminary. The Seminarians have been on retreat this past week in Maine under the guidance of Archbishop Timothy Brolio of the Archdiocese of the Military Services.

 I have been in Rome this week, celebrating the Installation of Chris Boyle (Boston), Frank Fuhrman (Springfield), Bernardo Rios (Springfield), Alfredo Porras (Worcester) and John Gancarz (Hartford) as Lectors. Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Holy See's Secretary for the Relations with States, celebrated the Mass of installation. We had a dinner to celebrate with Bishop Mitchell Rozanski of Springfield, Father Gary Daley (Springfield Vocation Director) and most of the semianrians from Massachusetts in attendance on Tuesday night.

I have also been working on preparing our next Vox Cara meeting with Cardinal Pell and the new and old members and took two days with Father Anthony Ward, one of our adjunct faculty who lives in Rome. We visited the marble quaries of Carrara at the kind invitation of Rolf Rohn of Rohn Design. It was very very cold. 

Here's a picture of Father Ward and me outside the Church of San   Bartolomeo in the little village of Colonnata, high up amidst the quarries of the Apuan Alps.

By tomorrow night I will be back to Saint John's. Monday will then be a bit of a break for us all as we prepare to begin the new semester in earnest and to embark on anoher journey to the Pro-Life March in Washington D.C. at the end of the week. Through it all we trust in your prayers!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Marching for Life...and Marching for YOU

In just a few short weeks, Saint John’s seminarians will be making their annual pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. in January to participate in the 2016 March for Life. The cost of this trip grows every year, so I am asking for your help for this crucial witness experience. Please consider sponsoring an individual seminarian (which we estimate will cost about $375), or making a supportive gift of any amount towards the cost of this trip. We will carry your prayers and intentions with us and in this way will make you a part of the journey, even if you can’t make it there yourself.

We so appreciate your consideration and I promise we will all be praying for you on this journey to our nation's capital for this extraordinary event. 


If you would like to help the men of Saint John’s Seminary travel to the 2016 March for Life,
Remember to select “Other” in the drop-down menu for gift designation
and enter “March for Life” in the text box that appears.

Gifts may also be made by mailing checks to

Saint John’s Seminary
Attn: Msgr.’s Wish List
127 Lake St
Brighton, MA 02135

Ask John Allen!

I hope you will all be able to join us for an exciting upcoming event. On Monday, January 25 at 7:00pm, I will be sitting down with Vatican analyst, author, and Boston Globe editor John L. Allen, Jr. for a conversation about his experiences with Pope Francis. This event will take place at the Our Lady of the Presentation Lecture Hall in Brighton's own Oak Square (680 Washington St, Brighton). It is free and open to the public, with ample free parking just a few doors further up the street at 710 Washington St.

We will be taking audience questions both during and leading up to the event. Please send yours to AskJohnAllen@gmail.com to be considered! Details are below. I hope to see you there!

Monsignor Caron to Join SJS Faculty

I am delighted to announce that Bishop Deeley has graciously agreed to release Monsignor Marc B. Caron, pastor of Prince of Peace Parish in Lewiston, Maine for service on the Faculty of Saint John’s Seminary effective July 1, 2016.

Monsignor Caron is an extraordinarily gifted priest.  His work has prepared him to form priests for the 21st century and I look forward to welcoming him to the faculty.

Born in Lewiston, Monsignor Caron attended St. Dominic’s Regional High School before majoring in French and philosophy at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, where he graduated summa cum laude. His Seminary formation was at the Theological College of The Catholic University of America, where he earned an S.T.B.  He also holds an S.T.L. in Liturgy from C.U.A. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1989.

Monsignor Caron has served as parochial vicar of St. Louis Parish in Fort Kent and St. Joseph Parish in Biddeford, Maine; chaplain at the University of Maine and the University of New England; chancellor of the Diocese of Portland and director of the department of ministerial services. In 2008, he was named administrator of the five Catholic parishes in Lewiston, and was appointed the founding pastor of Prince of Peace Parish in Lewiston in the following year.

Monsignor Caron was named a Chaplain of His Holiness in December 2000. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Alums from CUA stop by...

(left to right) Chris, Chris, Joseph, Patrick, Chrissy and Alex stopped by my apartment a few days ago on their way to dinner.  They are all fellow alums from the Catholic University, friends from two of my former parishes and two of our second year pre-theologians.

Your light has come!

Here is the homily I will be preaching for the Epiphany at Saint Paul's Cathedral in Worcester tomorrow morning.

I’ve never been more terrified.  Every three year old knows how I felt…pulling the covers up to my neck in hopes that the witch and the monster I could hear in the closet were going to carry me away or eat me or make me suffer.  And they always went away in the morning, when the light came on.  But in the dark they had me.

Like they had the young priest, standing by the bed of the old man who was not going gently into that good night.  Actually, he was cursing and swearing at everything with a vehemence as loud as it was desperate.  The young father was petrified as he stared in the face of pure darkness and trembled before shouts of renunciation, a profession of faithlessness, a rejection of God.  It had never seemed so dark.

Except to the guy whose wife just asked him for a divorce and told him she didn’t love him anymore.  He tried to reason that it was their son’s addition, or their daughter’s unwed pregnancy, but he knew the darkness that was destroying their marriage was somehow leaking out of his own heart.  He’d stopped praying a long time ago and only went to Church when there were lilies or poinsettias.  He’s plotted his own path for so long, but now he was lost in the dark, the dark that was in front and behind and beneath and all around him.  Lost in the dark.

Like a magus, wandering over hill and dale with all those camels and gifts in the middle of the night.  For all six of them: Gaspar, Melchior, Balthazar, the guy with the broken marriage, the young priest and the kid with the closet were wandering through the dark night of the soul, looking for the star that rises in the East, who is the morning star of our salvation and the refulgence of the Father’s glory.

For the journey to the manger in Bethlehem was but the “beginning of a great procession which winds throughout history.”t It is our procession, through all the dark nights of our lives.  It is a never ending struggle for our hearts, between the dark deceptions of Satan, his pomps and phantasms and the way, the truth and the life which is the blinding love of God who rises in the East with healing in his wings.

So, listen to me, every little kid afraid of the dark: you never have to be afraid, ever again!  For the Baby Jesus, who was born for you in the manger has destroyed all the monsters and witches and banished the darkness in which they hid.  Never again need you be afraid of the dark, for it is ever but a prelude to the coming of his light and the fullness of his glory.

Listen to me, every old man on the brink of death: you never have to be afraid ever again!  For he who was born in a manger in the shadow of a cross, upon which he offered his last breath for your salvation, in his dying has destroyed all death. And he has promised that those who eat his Body and drink his Blood will never really die at all, but that we who have been baptized into his death with rise with him to eternal life.

And listen to me, you who are so lost in the dark that you cannot find your way, I say: you never have to be afraid, ever again!  Follow the Magi in this great procession of humanity to Jesus Christ, to the God who was born in a stable, who died on the Cross and who, having risen from the dead, remains with us always, until the consummation of the world.” 2  Follow him and him alone and you will know the peace the world cannot give, until you come to love in perfect light with him who the light for ever.

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, 
and the glory of the Lord 
has risen upon you.” 3

Pope Benedict XVI, Epiphany Homily, 2013.
Pope Benedict XVI, Epiphany Homily, 2012; cf. Mt 28:20.
Isaiah 60:1.