Sunday, June 19, 2016

Burlington Ordinations

The last ordinations of the season were celebrated in Burlington, Vermont this weekend as our own Curtis Miller was ordained a priest and Joseph Sanderson was ordained as a Deacon.  Matthew Rensch, a seminarian from the North American College was also ordained to the Priesthood.

I was also honored to be at Father Miller’s first Mass this morning in Colchester.  His homily began with the question: “What are people looking for when they ring the rectory doorbell?”  Of course, they are looking for Christ, but who do they find?  A priest, with all his faults and brokenness.  But this is as Jesus willed it, that the priest be an alter Christus, that through him Christ might still be present to his people.  It was a wonderful homily.

Each of the ordinations and first Mass homilies of the past few weeks have touched me and the members of the faculty with the extraordinary realization that God has reached into the lives of these men and worked miracles, transforming them into vessels of his grace.  It is a wonder to behold!

Deacon Joseph Sanderson stands to the right, as Father Curtis Miller offers the Sign of Peace to the members of the Presbyterate of Burlington and other priests who were present.

Bishop Coyne with Fathers Miller and Rensch.

Bishop Coyne imposes hands on Deacon Sanderson.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Summer is for patching the roof...

A very brave workman in a little bucket has been patching the roof all around Saint John's Hall this week.  If you listen closely, you can also hear the saws and hammers as we add one faculty apartment and four junior suites to the seminary and completely rebuild Deacon House on Our Lady of the Presentation Campus.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Familiar faces...

Our own Matt Gill, Robert Little and Tom Willis continue their pilgrim days through the Rome Experience.  Here they stand before the early eighteenth century statue of our Patron by Camillo Rusconi in the Major Basilica of Saint John Lateran, mother Church of all the world!  Gee, I wonder where I have seen this image before?




Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Congratulations Deacons Battey, Brice and Morris!

I'm delighted we finally got some photos from the May 28th ordination to the Diaconate at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence. Bishop Robert Evans ordained three men of Saint John's Seminary: Deacons Stephen Michael Battey, Jean Joseph Brice and Brian John Morris.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

SJS in South Korea!

Father Romanus Cessario, OP is on a pilgrimage to South Korea with the newly ordained Father Chris Bae and seminarian Joseph Kim in these days.  I was delighted to receive some photos from their clearly enjoyable journey.  Safe travels, brothers!

Friday, June 3, 2016

With Gratitude to God…

The Saint John’s Seminary Board of Trustees met in an extraordinary session this morning in order to approve two real estate acquisitions which are signs of the unprecedented growth of Saint John’s Seminary in recent years.

The Board of Trustees and the Members of the Corporation of Saint John’s Seminary approved a payment to Boston College in order to terminate the 99-year lease of the Annex: several floors of rooms above the refectory, known affectionately to past generations as “popcorn alley.”  It is hoped that additional space for seminarians and faculty will be available for occupancy in about a year.

Secondly, the Board approved the purchase  of a house within sight of the front door of Saint John’s Seminary at 54 Lake Street to be used for the housing of seminarians and priests.  

Already underway are the construction of “Deacon House” as a residence for our fourth year men in the former Our Lady of the Presentation Rectory and a renovation of the main seminary building in order to provide apartments for additional faculty.  With the sale of Saint Gabriel’s Rectory, present home of the Theological Institute, a brand new Theological Institute is being built into the Lecture Hall and Library on Our Lady of the Presentation Campus.

So, if you have a chance today, say a little prayer of thanks to God who has granted us a little breathing room in this holy house to form more and more future shepherds for his holy flock!

The Priest and the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Pope Francis gave the following homily on the Sacred Heart and the Heart of Priests at the conclusion of a retreat in Rome on the occasion of the Jubilee for Priests.

This celebration of the Jubilee for Priests on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus invites us all to turn to the heart, the deepest root and foundation of every person, the focus of our affective life and, in a word, his or her very core. Today we contemplate two hearts: the Heart of the Good Shepherd and our own heart as priests.

The Heart of the Good Shepherd is not only the Heart that shows us mercy, but is itself mercy. There the Father’s love shines forth; there I know I am welcomed and understood as I am; there, with all my sins and limitations, I know the certainty that I am chosen and loved. Contemplating that heart, I renew my first love: the memory of that time when the Lord touched my soul and called me to follow him, the memory of the joy of having cast the nets of our life upon the sea of his word (cf. Lk 5:5).

The Heart of the Good Shepherd tells us that his love is limitless; it is never exhausted and it never gives up. There we see his infinite and boundless self-giving; there we find the source of that faithful and meek love which sets free and makes others free; there we constantly discover anew that Jesus loves us “even to the end” (Jn 13:1), without ever being imposing.

The Heart of the Good Shepherd reaches out to us, above all to those who are most distant. There the needle of his compass inevitably points, there we see a particular “weakness” of his love, which desires to embrace all and lose none.

Contemplating the Heart of Christ, we are faced with the fundamental question of our priestly life: Where is my heart directed? Our ministry is often full of plans, projects and activities: from catechesis to liturgy, to works of charity, to pastoral and administrative commitments. Amid all these, we must still ask ourselves: What is my heart set on, where is it directed, what is the treasure that it seeks? For as Jesus says: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mt 6:21).

The great riches of the Heart of Jesus are two: the Father and ourselves. His days were divided between prayer to the Father and encountering people. So too the heart of Christ’s priests knows only two directions: the Lord and his people. The heart of the priest is a heart pierced by the love of the Lord. For this reason, he no longer looks to himself, but is turned towards God and his brothers and sisters. It is no longer “a fluttering heart”, allured by momentary whims, shunning disagreements and seeking petty satisfactions. Rather, it is a heart rooted firmly in the Lord, warmed by the Holy Spirit, open and available to our brothers and sisters.

To help our hearts burn with the charity of Jesus the Good Shepherd, we can train ourselves to do three things suggested to us by today’s readings: seek out, include and rejoice.

Seek out. The prophet Ezekiel reminds us that God himself goes out in search of his sheep (Ez 34:11, 16). As the Gospel says, he “goes out in search of the one who is lost” (Lk 15:4), without fear of the risks. Without delaying, he leaves the pasture and his regular workday. He does not put off the search. He does not think: “I have done enough for today; I’ll worry about it tomorrow”. Instead, he immediately sets to it; his heart is anxious until he finds that one lost sheep. Having found it, he forgets his weariness and puts the sheep on his shoulders, fully content.

Such is a heart that seeks out – a heart that does not set aside times and spaces as private, a heart that is not jealous of its legitimate quiet time and never demands that it be left alone. A shepherd after the heart of God does not protect his own comfort zone; he is not worried about protecting his good name, but rather, without fearing criticism, he is disposed to take risks in seeking to imitate his Lord.

A shepherd after the heart of God has a heart sufficiently free to set aside his own concerns. He does not live by calculating his gains or how long he has worked: he is not an accountant of the Spirit, but a Good Samaritan who seeks out those in need. For the flock he is a shepherd, not an inspector, and he devotes himself to the mission not fifty or sixty percent, but with all he has. In seeking, he finds, and he finds because he takes risks. He does not stop when disappointed and he does not yield to weariness. Indeed, he is stubborn in doing good, anointed with the divine obstinacy that loses sight of no one. Not only does he keep his doors open, but he also goes to seek out those who no longer wish to enter them. Like every good Christian, and as an example for every Christian, he constantly goes out of himself. The epicentre of his heart is outside of himself. He is not drawn by his own “I”, but by the “Thou” of God and by the “we” of other men and women.

Include. Christ loves and knows his sheep. He gives his life for them, and no one is a stranger to him (cf. Jn 10:11-14).  His flock is his family and his life. He is not a boss to feared by his flock, but a shepherd who walks alongside them and calls them by name (cf. Jn 10:3-4). He wants to gather the sheep that are not yet of his fold (cf. Jn 10:16).

So it is also with the priest of Christ. He is anointed for his people, not to choose his own projects but to be close to the real men and women whom God has entrusted to him. No one is excluded from his heart, his prayers or his smile. With a father’s loving gaze and heart, he welcomes and includes everyone, and if at times he has to correct, it is to draw people closer. He stands apart from no one, but is always ready to dirty his hands. As a minister of the communion that he celebrates and lives, he does not await greetings and compliments from others, but is the first to reach out, rejecting gossip, judgements and malice. He listens patiently to the problems of his people and accompanies them, sowing God’s forgiveness with generous compassion. He does not scold those who wander off or lose their way, but is always ready to bring them back and to resolve difficulties and disagreements.

Rejoice. God is “full of joy” (cf. Lk 15:5). His joy is born of forgiveness, of life risen and renewed, of prodigal children who breathe once more the sweet air of home. The joy of Jesus the Good Shepherd is not a joy for himself alone, but a joy for others and with others, the true joy of love. This is also the joy of the priest. He is changed by the mercy that he freely gives. In prayer he discovers God’s consolation and realizes that nothing is more powerful than his love. He thus experiences inner peace, and is happy to be a channel of mercy, to bring men and women closer to the Heart of God. Sadness for him is not the norm, but only a step along the way; harshness is foreign to him, because he is a shepherd after the meek Heart of God.

Dear priests, in the Eucharistic celebration we rediscover each day our identity as shepherds. In every Mass, may we truly make our own the words of Christ: “This is my body, which is given up for you.”  This is the meaning of our life; with these words, in a real way we can daily renew the promises we made at our priestly ordination. I thank all of you for saying “yes” to giving your life in union with Jesus: for in this is found the pure source of our joy.

Congratulations to the Bishops Elect!

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM, Cap. has announced that Pope Francis has appointed two former faculty members and alumni of Saint John’s Seminary as auxiliary Bishops for the Archdiocese of Boston.  Bishop-elect Mark O’Connell (up until now, Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Boston) has served as a member of the formation faculty and is a resident of Saint John’s Seminary.  Bishop-Elect Robert Reed (up until now, President of Catholic TV and ICatholic Media) has been a professor in one of our communications courses.  We congratulate the  Bishops-elect and promise the fervent prayers of the entire Saint John’s Community.

“Gladly and gratefully…welcome our brother whom we, the Bishops, now admit into our college by the laying on of hands. Revere him as a minister of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God. He has been entrusted with the task of bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel, and with the ministry of the Spirit and of justice.”

         (Rite of Ordination of a Bishop, homily)

Congratulations Father O'Leary and Archbishop Chaput!

Congratulations to Father Kevin O'Leary and Archbishop Charles Chaput, who last evening were honored at the Redemptoris Mater Seminary Annual Gala.  I was grateful to Father Tony Medeiros for his gracious hospitality and was delighted to be present as these great men of the Church were honored by a sell-out crowd to support Boston's Missionary Seminary!

Congratulations to Archbishop Russell!

Archbishop Paul Russell, alumnus of Saint John’s Seminary, will be ordained a Bishop this afternoon by Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.  Archbishop Russell has been appointed by Pope Francis as Apostolic Nuncio to Turkey and Turkmenistan.  The congratulations and prayers of the entire Saint John’s community are with him on this blessed day!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Worcester Presbyteral Assembly

On the Cape these days with 87 of my Diocesan brothers for our annual Presbyteral Assembly.  Our own Father Jim Conn, SJ is providing an update on various canonical issues, including the Holy Father's post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.