Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Worcester Catholic School Teachers

It was so nice to be with the Catholic School Teachers of Worcester on Monday.  I gave two presentations on Sacraments and Evangelizing a Post-Modern World.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#GivingTuesday at Saint John's Seminary

UPDATE: As of 3pm, we are over 70% of the way to our goal, and going strong. Who's going to push us over the edge? 

Today is #GivingTuesday! 

Please join SJS in our quest to raise $5K by the end of the day on this national day of philanthropy.
You can learn more or make your gift now at!

Saint John’s Seminary is a vibrant community of impassioned men who are constantly praying for you, for one another, and to become better each and every day on their journeys towards priesthood.

As we prepare together for the coming of the Lord now that Advent has begun, we’re making a big upgrade to set the scene here at SJS. This year’s Giving Tuesday gifts will go towards the purchase of the nativity set pictured below, which was hand-picked for Saint John’s by one of my top design advisors, so that we might come together and remember the holiest of all nights each and every day. Our goal is to raise $5,000 for this purpose.

Won’t you consider skipping your Starbucks, Dunks, or other morning treat today, and instead donate that $5 towards a more reverent and holy worship experience for your favorite seminarian?

How can I make a contribution?

Please click here for our online giving form, choose “Other” as your designation, and write in “Giving Tuesday”. Don’t forget to see if your employer will match your gift! You can also mail a check made out to Saint John’s Seminary to: Giving Tuesday @ Saint John’s Seminary, 127 Lake St, Brighton, MA 02135. Thank you for supporting your future parish priests!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Congratulations Deacon Abishai Vase!

Two days ago, our brother, Abishai Vase, was ordained to the diaconate by Archbishop Paul Hinder, Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia at St. Joseph's Cathedral in Abu Dhabi.  Deacon Abishai is on pastoral year in the Apostolic Vicariate, after which he will return to his final year at Saint John’s.  The entire Saint John’s community rejoices with Deacon Abishai and all who were at this wonderful celebration in Abu Dhabi with the consolation that, despite the miles that may separate us, we are all joined at the Altar!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Homily on Saint Cecilia

This was the homily I preached this morning for the feast of Saint Cecilia in Thanksgiving Week!

There are seven women, excluding the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorated in the Roman Canon. Perpetua, Felicity, Agnes, Cecilia, Agatha, Lucy, and Anastasia, all of them martyrs enjoying extensive devotion by the fifth century when this Eucharistic Prayer was first composed.

A few moments ago we prayed that “what has been devoutly handed down concerning [Saint Cecilia] might offer us examples to imitate.” So what has been handed down that we might imitate it?

As far as we know, Cecilia was born into a wealthy Roman family, raised a Christian and piously carried the Gospels with her wherever she went. Consecrated from birth to a life of virginity, she converted her first husband on their wedding night after which the couple spent all their time burying the martyrs provided by the frequent Christian persecutions.

When the prefect of Rome grew tired of this troublesome couple, he executed her husband and soon decided to have Cecilia killed as well.

According to the legend, when the soldiers came to arrest her, Cecilia converted them and they were baptized, “amidst loud hymns of thanks.”

The next day, wishing only to be rid her, the prefect ordered that she be suffocated in the baths. But from within the sealed chambers they heard her voice crying out: "I thank You, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, that through Your Son the fire will be been extinguished.” And as they looked below the baths the fires went out.

So they tried to cut off her head; but as the executioner’s blade hit her neck for the third time, she is said to have yelled out “I thank you for your cross…” At which her lips fell silent, never to thank God again, until she stood with the angels before the throne of the God who never abandoned her.

So what has been handed down that we might imitate it?

The grace to give thanks when they arrest you, when they boil you and when the sword falls. “In all things give thanks to God…” (1 Thessalonians 5:18a)


Last night we had our community Thanksgiving Dinner following Holy Hour.  Great skits, commentaries and reflections were offered.  Here are some pictures, along with my prayer in thanksgiving for these good men.

On this Thanksgiving night, O Lord, we give you thanks for all the graces you have showered upon each one of these, my
brothers and sons: for the courage with which he carries the crosses you give him; 
for the purity with which he joins his life to yours; for the intensity with which he glorifies your name; for the love with which he surrenders to your will; for the beauty of his faith; for the fullness of his joy; and for the peace with which you have anointed his heart.

We give you thanks O Lord, for each man here: for these blessings, for this food and for the fellowship 
which makes us one in you. Bless it all, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

First Snow in the Berkshires

Soon after Deacon Pease's ordination, snow began to fall in the Berkshires.  This is how it looked in West Stockbridge this morning.  An auspicious start to Thanksgiving Week!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Deacon Barrent Pease

Father Pignato and I joined more than a dozen of our seminarians as Bishop Rozanski ordained Barrent Pease to the Diaconate at Blessed Sacrament Church in Westfield.  Soon after the laying on of hands, the Bishop prayed over Barrent in these words:

Draw near, we pray, almighty God, giver of every grace, who apportion every order and assign every office; who remain unchanged, but make all things new. In your eternal providence, you make provision for every age, as you order all creation through him who is your word, your power and your wisdom, Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.

You grant that the Church, his body, adorned with manifold heavenly graces, drawn together in the diversity of its members, and united by a wondrous bond through the Holy Spirit, should grow and spread forth to build up a new temple and, as once you chose the sons of Levi to minister in the former tabernacle, so now you establish three ranks of ministers in their sacred offices to serve in your name.

And so, in the first days of your Church, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, your Son's Apostles appointed seven men of good repute to assist them in the daily ministry, that they might devote themselves more fully to prayer and preaching of the word. By prayer and the laying on of hands they entrusted to these chosen men the ministry of serving at table. We beseech you, Lord: look with favor on this servant of yours who will minister at your holy altar and whom we now humbly dedicate to the office of deacon.

Send forth upon him, Lord, we pray, the Holy Spirit, that he may be strengthened by the gift of your sevenfold grace for the faithful carrying out of the work of the ministry.

May there abound in him every Gospel virtue: unfeigned love, concern for the sick and poor, unassuming authority, the purity of innocence and the observance of spiritual discipline.  May your commandments shine forth in his conduct, so that by the example of his way of life he may inspire the imitation of your holy people. In offering the witness of a clear conscience may he remain strong and steadfast in Christ, so that by imitating on earth your Son, who came not to be served but to serve, he may be found worthy to reign in heaven with him, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.  Amen.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Progress at Deacon House

The windows have arrived!!  Please continue to pray for the progress being made in the newest building at Saint John's Seminary!

Annual Alumni Dinner

This evening we celebrated our annual Alumni dinner.  Seventy-two alumni joined our seminarians for Holy Hour, a light reception and a glorious dinner, complete with a talk by Deacon Steve Battey and music from the Celtic Clerics.

Bishop Peter Uglietto, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Boston, presided at Vespers in the course of the Holy Hour and delivered the following homily on the Feast of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul in Rome.

The stone basilicas in Rome stand as reminders of the living stones that preceded them. The apostles Peter and Paul were martyrs who witnessed by their lives and deaths that the love and mercy of God revealed in Jesus Christ is more powerful than death, evil, suffering and sin.

In the mysterious divine plan God did not put us in the first century, but here in this time and place. In our day we just witnessed a national election, the outcome of which stunned many in the world. While many bemoan the great divide between political ideologies as well as the many months of divisive rhetoric, we, as followers of Him who prayed that all might be one, can exercise a role as bridge-builders.

As the doors of Mercy close, the mission of mercy continues. We, as the Lord's disciples, are called to embrace the posture of mercy even toward those with whom we find ourselves in opposition. God's mercy is the foundation for a grace-filled attitude, even toward those with whom we might strongly disagree.

The Lord Jesus relies on his Priests in this day to be the incarnation of mercy for the people of this generation. The mercy of God is our consolation and the reason for our hope.

Pope Francis put it in these words: "Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope. May we be filled with this mercy!" 

May it be the foundation of our ministry! May it provide us with the courage to look to the future with hope!


At the beginning of the dinner I offered these words:

One hundred and thirty-two years ago, one-hundred and fourteen seminarians first began to prepare for Ordination in this house.  Three thousand plus seminarians later, this Holy House now serves one-hundred and thirty-two seminarians from Maine to Rochester and Oakland to Hanoi.

How things have changed, but how much they stay the same!  The same Lord, the same Church, the same need for faithful men, holy men and men with a pastor’s heart.

Thanks to each of you for being here tonight with these great men.  We have alumni with us from Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Fall River, Providence, Manchester and Wheeling-Charleston.  My thanks especially to Bishop Uglietto, Bishop Kennedy, Bishop O’Connell and our proud alumnus, Bishop Samra.  

And by the way, before I offer our opening prayer, I would ask you to pause in silent prayer for our brother Deacon-elect Barrent Pease, who will be ordained to the Diaconate for the Diocese of Springfield tomorrow morning.  He reminds us tonight what this Seminary is all about.

O God, 
who year by year renew the wonders of your love,
look upon these, your sons
whom you formed and consecrated in this holy house.
As you have empowered them to offer
the holy and living sacrifice of your Son,
so give them the strength and holiness
to offer the sacrifice of their lives
upon the Altars at which they serve your holy people.
Bless them, O Lord, Bless this Holy House,
and fill us with your grace,
through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Finally, Deacon Steve Battey offered this reflection at the conclusion of the meal:

It has become something of a tradition over these last few years for a reflection to be offered on this night by the deacon MC, a soon to be alumni. It was the perfect occasion for me to spend some time reading Msgr. Sexton's single volume History of Saint John's Seminary; an opportunity to learn more about the humble beginnings of St. John's. Humble as those beginnings were, as I thumbed through the pages I began to realize that so many things still endure. 

The seminary still occupies what would have formerly been the Stanwood estate, dominating the landscape for all those who pass by on Lake Street or those taking a walk around the nearby Chandler's pond. 

Our courtyard is still adorned with the same statue of the Virgin and Child Jesus, a replica of the original sculpted by the artist Pigalle that was one of the few items shipped over with the original five suplician priests who served on the faculty here. It still serves as a daily reminder for priests and seminarians alike of the integral place our blessed Mother ought to have in our spiritual lives. 

Upon returning from various pastoral and parish assignments, seminarians pass the large Celtic Cross given by seminary alumni in remembrance of the seminary's first rector, Father John B. Hogan. What a powerful testament to the gratitude that alumni hold for the efforts of those priests that serve on the faculty of this seminary. 

The artwork in the seminary chapel, first commissioned by Archbishop O'Connell in 1908 still remains. Recently restored and newly lit it will continued to pondered by seminarians for another hundred years - this is provided of course that the newly restored organ doesn't send the whole ceiling crashing down on us! 

So much has endured the test of time. 

Fathers, from the very beginning of its founding, St. John's seminary has not only been a place of formation for future priests, but has also served as a place of surety and renewal for those who have already been ordained. The annual retreat for diocesan priests began here every year. It was in this place that the beloved "Renovation of Clerical Promises" was held, in which priests approached the altar, placed their hands in those of the Archbishop and repeated the words used at their first tonsure "The Lord is my chosen portion and cup, thou holdest my lot". 

Tonight I invite you to consider this seminary anew as a place of stability and renewal for you. In a culture that praises progress and seems at times to be going at 100 miles per hour, or when at any moment, the phone could ring informing you of a new parish assignment, or that another parish will be yoked under your pastoral care - find some surety and foundation here at St. John's. Take some solace of some of the timelessness that this seminary affords, and please God will continue to afford for many years to come. Find renewal in remembering the zeal you had here as a seminarian, on fire with love of Jesus and excited at the prospect of sacramental ministry to come. 

Finally, find hope in the seminarians studying here. Pray for us and support us. In so doing, we will be in an even better position upon priestly ordination to join you in the various dioceses of New England in the great enterprise of cooperating with God's grace for the salvation of souls in the years to come. 

To conclude, I would like to invite Fr. O'Connor up for our closing prayer, followed by a little musical entertainment by the ever popular seminarian singing group the Celtic Clerics. You are most welcome to join in on some of the songs. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

75th Anniversary of DHS Pontifical Faculty

Congratulations to all our friends at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington D.C. who celebrated the 75th anniversary of their charter as an Ecclesiastical Faculty last week.  Our own Father Romanus Cessario, O.P. was the featured speaker.  His talk is available here.  (Photos by Father Lawrence Lew, O.P.)

Knights of the Holy Sepulchre

The Knights of the Holy Sepulchre gathered for their annual meeting at the Mission Hill Basilica and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross last weekend.  Here are a few of our friends and benefactors.  Congratulations to the new Knights and Ladies!