Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New Men Tour Boston

Under the capable direction of Dr. Phil Crotty, the new men had their first visit to Catholic Boston yesterday in magnificently beautiful weather!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

They're Here!

This was move-in day at SJS and thirty-three new men arrived as part of this Holy House.  Here are the remarks with which I greeted them and their families and friends.

Well, look at you!  You made it!  You fit all that stuff in your room and now here you are in the heart of this holy house.  Where each day we will pray, morning noon and night, only that God might make us holy and we might know his will.

So…. Relax!  Be not afraid!  Be at peace! You’re home!  It’a going to be great fun!

Be at peace, my brother.  For the same God who gave you birth, the same God who taught you to laugh, who is the way, the truth and the life...that God is all this place is about.  He is in the air we breathe and work we do.  He is the reason we rise and we rest.  He loves you more than you will ever know, and he has great things in store for you here!  Things more amazing than you have even dreamed. Like the little kid who has climbed the ladder to the great big slide, just take a deep breath and let go!  He’ll do the rest.

And be at peace, dear parents and friends.  My 85 year old mother has some advice for you.  Trust in God and he will do great things for your son.  He knows how much you love him and God will take good care of him here.  For God has called him and he has answered.  And that is very good.

I welcome you on behalf of an incredible faculty of wonderful priests, who once sat where you sit and once felt exactly as you feel today.  I welcome you on behalf of Cardinal O’Malley and our Board of Trustees.  I welcome you on behalf of our superb staff and our spiritual directors and pastoral supervisors.  I welcome you home.

So relax and enjoy.  You only have one first day of major Seminary,  Mine was 37 years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth.  That day was, for me, the beginning of a life so filled with joy and beauty and truth that I cannot describe it without tears in my eyes.  And that is just what God has in store for you.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

With Saint Monica before they arrive...

She was born in the part of Numidia now know as Algeria, on the edge of the desert.  Early on she married a politician by the name of Patrick. But Patrick had a violent temper, especially when he drank, and Monica’s habits of praying and going to Church and taking care of poor people drove him crazy.    

They had three children, one of whom almost died as a child.  But even when he got better and grew up, this child turned into a first class rascal.  Lazy and selfish, he refused to go to Church, even when his father died when he was 17.

In fact, not only did he refuse to go to Church, he would come home from school and berate his widowed mother about the foolishness of her beliefs.  But she never stopped praying.  For Patrick, for Perpetus and Navitas and even for Augustine, assured by an unnamed holy Bishop that “no child of those tears could ever perish.”

Married to a violent alcoholic who died when her kids were teenagers, with a lazy, selfish and self-righteous son, she was driven not to bitterness, but to prayer.  Morning and night, going from Church to Church praying for her children, especially the errant Augustine, she would leave offerings  behind her of “porridge, bread, water and wine” for the poor.

And her prayers were heard, as Augustine became a priest and a Bishop and one of the greatest shepherds the Church has ever known.  Saint Augustine, whose holiness is an answer to the prayers of his faithful mother.

In just a few hours, seminarians will come to live in this holy house.  Some will have had mothers like Monica and some fathers like Patrick.  

But each will arrive as beneficiaries of the prayers of folks whose faith and inspiration have brought them through our front doors.  Let us join our prayers to theirs, that here they might strive for holiness and that God’s will might be done.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Name Tags await...

Day Two of the Favre Institute

The Faculty is taking part in a second day of workshops with the Saint Peter Favre Center for Priestly Formation today.  This morning we are exploring the theme of "Theology and Autobiography" while this afternoon will be spent on the question of how to understand the religious experience of the seminarian and promote conversion, under the title "How can he become an alter Christus?"

Continuing Prayers for our new Bishops

Our community will miss the presence of Bishop O'Connell and Bishop Reed, but our prayers accompany them in their exciting new ministry to the people of Boston!

Pray For the New Men...arriving tomorrow!


Heavenly Father,
your love for us is beyond measure.
Still the hearts of those who seek to do your will,
and give to them the confidence of the children of God.

Give them the peace which the world cannot give,
and send an angel to gently guide them
in this, your holy house.

Bless their families and their friends,
and give to them the assurance of your holy will.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, fore ever and ever.  Amen.

Stanislaus of the Diocese of Springfield
Ryan of the Diocese of Manchester
Steven of the Diocese of Fall River
Peter of the Diocese of Providence
Lucas of the Diocese of Worcester
Khanh of the Diocese of Hanoi
Phong of the Diocese of Manchester
Joseph of the Archdiocese of Boston
Benjamin of the Diocese of Rochester
Joshua of the Diocese of Manchester
Jeffrey of the Diocese of Rochester
Duy of the Archdiocese of Boston
Noah of the Archdiocese of Boston
Derek of the Diocese of Worcester
Thuy of the Archdiocese of Boston
Dinh of the Diocese of Dalat
Michael of the Diocese of Manchester
Matthew of the Archdiocese of Boston
Patrick of the Archdiocese of Boston
William of the Diocese of Fall River
Hoang of the Diocese of Manchester
Gregory of the Diocese of Fall River
Nicholas of the Archdiocese of Boston
Hung of the Archdiocese of Boston
Kevin of the Diocese of Portland
Sang of the Archdiocese of Boston
Thach of the Archdiocese of Boston
Lam of the Archdiocese of Boston
Hien of the Archdiocese of Boston
Matthew of the Diocese of Rochester
Daniel of the Diocese of Rochester
Gregory of the Archdiocese of Boston
Daniel of the Archdiocese of Boston

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Day One of the Favre Institute

These grace-filled days are devoted to preparations for the arrival of our thirty-two new seminarians and, after them, all the residents of this holy house.  We prepare by cleaning (they just started washing the rugs), renovating (the plumbing for the new faculty rooms is finally connected), and preparing endless talks designed to help these good men to enter into the hard work of priestly formation.  

We are also preparing by welcoming Father James Corkery S.J. and Father Stan Morgalla, S.J. of the saint Peter Favre Center for Formators to the Priesthood and Religious Life at the Gregorian University.  They have flown here from Rome to conduct three days of workshops in priestly formation for the members of our faculty.  We are also joined by faculty members from Our Lady of Providence, Mount Saint Mary’s and Saint John XXIII seminaries, as well as formators from several of our religious houses.

Here are some of the topics we will be covering in these workshops:

Anthropology of Christian Vocation
Ecclesial Perspective on Formation Today
Theology and Anthropology: Connecting the Two
How can we become alter Christus
Personal Accompaniement and Seminary Formation

Please keep us in your prayers these days as we seek ways in which to grow in leading God’s future shepherds into the wonders of his love.

Here’s the homily from this morning’s opening Mass.

There aren’t many people like the good shepherd of today’s Gospel.

He not only cares for his sheep, he lays down his life for them!  For sheep!  My appreciation of sheep grows from my affection for something served with mint jelly or a good warm coat on a winter’s day... But this good shepherd dies for his sheep!

And when the wolf arrives on the scene, snarling and growling, with rabies tinted saliva dripping from sharp fangs, does the shepherd do the sensible thing and run away?  No.  Incredulously, he lays down his limb and life for the sheep.  For sheep!
And what of his compensation?  Does he even get paid for this life-threatening work?  No!  Saint John tells us today that the good shepherd works only for the joy of knowing and loving his sheep.  For love of a sheep, he lays down his life.  He freely chooses to lay down his life for his sheep.

There aren’t many people like that shepherd

  • There aren’t many people like the good shepherd, except for the police officer who puts himself between the violent drunk and his beaten wife when there’s no one else there, just because it’s the right thing to do;

  • There aren’t many people like the good shepherd, except for the mother whose example of patient endurance teaches love better than any homily any preacher had ever proclaimed;

  • There aren’t many people like the good shepherd, except for the parent coming home from the second shift who instead of getting a coffee buys a toy he plans to give to the littlest one when he wakes up;

  • There aren’t many people like the good shepherd, except the judge whose model is blind justice, holding delicately balanced scales, but who, painfully, is not blind, but sees only too well the wretchedness and the suffering that processes by his bench every day of the week.

  • There aren’t many people like the good shepherd, except the young man who arrives here in two days time and seeks only to give his life to Jesus and to his Church.

And there are days, I must confess, when faced with such good and generous shepherds, I stand unworthy of the name Father and unworthy of the Sacred Ordination which has defined my life.  

But then again, they are equally a consolation to the aging cleric: the perfect antidote for cynicism and fear.  For these good young men, in seeking to be shepherds, form us who seek to form them, into the image and likeness of the one who teaches us how to lay down our lives for his sheep.

So let us give thanks for all the shepherds, old and young, whom Christ has sent into the world in his own image and likeness.  As we give thanks for Father Jim Corkery and Father Stan Morgalla, who have traveled many miles to help us to serve these good young men.

May Christ give us the grace, to form them as priests after his own heart.


And here are my opening remarks for our first session.

"Many times a day I prayed. The love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. In a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many in the night. I used to get up for prayer before daylight whatever the weather--snow, frost, rain-- without suffering any ill effects. The spirit within me grew fervent.”

These words of Saint Patrick have come down to us as a description of what he called “his seminary” in the bogs and hills of Ireland, alone with the sheep.  It is, ironically, where God formed him to be the Priest Shepherd who would evangelize a people and lead them to Christ.

It is the same work we strive to do.  To make the spirit grow fervent within the hearts of each of the men who come to this Holy House.  A work which should keep us up at night, wondering how we could better serve them and the God to whom they seek to give their lives.

Which is where Father Jim Corkery and Father Stan Morgalla come in.  For they have devoted themselves wholeheartedly to preparing formators like us to be up to the task.  I am deeply grateful to the Gregorian University for recognizing the importance of providing a center for Priestly Formation and to Jim and Stan for their dedication to the task.

To our guests from other seminaries, I bid you welcome, trust you feel at home and hope you recognize this house as yours for the next few days.

By the way, Jim and Stan, the folks who are sitting in front of you are some of the finest priests I have ever met and I am proud to call them my brothers, my colleagues and my friends.  It is a great joy to bring you  together with them, and I pray that God will do great things in this room and this Holy House in the next three days.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Leadership Roundtable - Homily for Day Three

So here’s Jesus, faced with an enormous challenge.  Five thousand people to feed, sitting on the grass for as far as the eye can see.  It’s perhaps one of the most important management challenges of the scriptures, as it is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels.  

So what did Jesus do?  Being omniscent, he already knew what Father Paul Holmes would write in the Pastor’s toolbox, so he did four things.

First he made a plan, surveying the available resources.

Then he organized the work and seated the multitude in groups of fifties and a hundred for speed and fairness in the distribution.

Third, he made sure he had an adequate group of works in the person of the twelve, standing ready to distribute.

Then he gathered every available loaf and fish before saying the blessing.

He planned, organized, inspired a group of workers and brought together the needed resources.

And that’s not the only time he followed sound management principles.  Whether he was making wine at Cana or breaking bread in the upper room, there is a plan and a structure to the Gospel which should inspire each one of us.

We who are, or God-willing will be called to the ministry of governance in the Church, the ministry of the Good Shepherd, who does not get lost when looking for the errant sheep, or eaten by the wolf or does not keep track of each of the sheep he knows by name.

May you be the good shepherd, whose heart and mind and experience are laid down with his life in service of the sheep who are placed in his care.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Leadership Roundtable - Day One

Fifteen seminarians and ten priests have just completed the first day of workshops on Parish Management with the Leadership Roundtable.  Topics covered on day one included A Theology of Management, Tools for Managing Change and Developing Visions for Ministry.  The day began with Morning Prayer and Mass at 7:10am and ends with a social after supper.  Long, but very fruitful days!

Leadership Roundtable at SJS

Twenty-five seminarians and priests begin three days of workshops on Parish Management here at SJS with the great folks at the Leadership Round Table. Here’s my homily from this morning’s opening Mass as well as my opening remarks at the first session.

St. Stephen of Hungary
Tuesday, August 16, 2016 (7:30am)

Winston Churchill must have been reading Ezekiel just before he loudly proclaimed the most important lesson he ever learned in life. There is a God and I am not him.

Ezekiel describes the perfectly terrible pastor. He is the one with a haughty heart, who by his words and actions constantly proclaims: “I am God,” as he sits on his royal throne.

He has no need of advice from learned managers and there are no laymen wiser than he. He has been imbued with divine wisdom, not only in matters priestly and doctrinal, but in governance as well.

He is the modern Solomon, resolving every dispute by his own ingenuity, building a new Church with infused administrative knowledge, and setting up structures which would be the envy of the giants of industry,   And he does it all on his own.

Which is why within the past month you can google Fr Nguyen of San Jose who will spend the next four years in federal prison for misappropriating parish funds. Or the 76 year old priest in Steubenville, who wrote checks to a con man for $35,000 because he believed all his stories. Or Father Kane in Detroit who is facing up to twenty years in state prison for misappropriation of close to a quarter of a million dollars.

And its not just about the money. The same haughty priest who needs no one’s advice will make an equal mess of human resources, finance councils and the parish plant.

Back to Ezekiel:

“you [think you] are wiser than Daniel, there is no secret that is beyond you. By your wisdom and your intelligence you have made riches for yourself; You have put gold and silver into your treasuries. By your great wisdom applied to your trading ou have heaped up your riches; sounds a little like a certain presidential candidate) your heart has grown haughty from your riches– herefore thus says the Lord GOD: IT WILL ALL FALL APART.

But if you are humble…if you seek God’s will and the accumulated wisdom of others…what is impossible for you to accomplish alone, with God is very possible.

Today is the Feast of Stephen of Hungary, the first of the great Christian monarchs. They tell all kinds of stories about his humility and of his desperate search for ways to fill his people’s stomachs, keep them safe and to lead them to God.

And there’s only one major relic of Saint Stephen that still exists. It is his right hand, also known as the Dextra. Why did this relic along survive? He biographer speculates:

“The right hand of the blessed man was deservedly exempt from putrefaction, because always reflourishing from the flower of kindness it was never empty from giving gifts to nourish the poor.” (Hartvic, Life of King Stephen of Hungary[191])

You don’t have to know it all. You don’t have to be God. All you gotta do is listen and give in humility and love.


Welcome to the Leadership Round Table

"In church work,” a wise man once wrote, “as in forming and merchandizing and manufacturing and in all other affairs, the management of yesterday will lead to bankruptcy and failure today.” (Albert Franklin McGarrah, Modern Church Management: A Study in Efficiency (1917), p. 20.)

That was written in 1917 by a Protestant management specialist, whose major work lamented the widespread lack of knowledge and skill in Church management among the Church’s pastors.

As many of you know, last week I was in Siena with the Vox Clara Committee, whose chair also happens to be Prefect of the Economy for the Holy See. Cardinal Pell was delighted to hear of your attendance at these workshops and promised his prayers. He also, characteristically, offered some candid advice, a reprise of his address to the new Bishops of the world about six months ago.

Because, he said, “dishonesty is not unknown” in how Church personnel handle money,” He offered three points to keep in mind.

First, Don’t assume honesty. Both Bishops nor pastors, he insisted “must understand financial basics and must take an interest in financial undertakings,” he said. “He cannot leave it to others; he cannot boast that he doesn’t understand this area.” “This,” he said without mincing words, “would give encouragement to thieves.”

Second, Employ “four eyes.” Recommending annual audits, he insisted that no one person, Bishop or Pastor, should be the only one watching the books. Checks and balances are essential.

Third, he recommended that we always rely on lay expertise. From your business manager to Finance Committee, you need good competent and “pastorally oriented persons” to whom you will listen.

Which brings me to the happy moment of introducing Jim Lundholm-Eades and Peter Denio of the Leadership Roundtable., Since first I was exposed to their Pastor’s Toolbox two years ago, I have been longing for this moment, a new and annual part of our seminary curriculum, where we might listen to good and competent lay persons who love the Church and learn something about the principles of governance and Church management which has been or will be placed in our hands.

I am really looking forward to this. Welcome!

Coming home to SJS...

Corey Rouse sent this great pic of an image of the Lord Jesus in Glory from the Church of Saint Mary the Great in Cambridge, England.  It reminds me of how the Lord is slowly leading home to SJS all our brothers who have been seeking him in so many places this summer: serving in parishes, praying at World Youth Day, studying spirituality and chant and language and so much more.  God bring them safely home and fill them with the joy which comes from serving his Gospel!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Getting ready...

We're entering into the final days of summer, with workshops and renovations and infinite hours of planning. Here's a few shots of the corridors where our new Faculty suites and such are finally reaching completion...