Monday, June 26, 2017

Summer Happenings...

As the summer progresses all sorts of events continue to engage the Seminary community.   Admissions interviews are an almost weekly occurrence, and last week's Board of Trustees Meeting is what really marks the beginning of summer for me!  I am SO GRATEFUL to these wonderful men and women who assist us in governance of this Holy House.

Here are some other photos from recent events hither and yon.  I hope you enjoy them!

Our old and faithful friends, the Knights and Dames of Malta met for a Mass down the Cape on the Feast of Saint John the Baptist.  My talk at the luncheon that followed appears elsewhere on this blog.

Among the other speakers was our own trustee Monsignor Denis Sheehan.  Father Mark Hession is in the foreground.

Nancy and Craig Gibson reported on our latest trip to Lourdes.

Newly minted Deacon Michael Rosa presided at  Holy Hour for  the  Boston seminarian retreat.  He looks like he's been doing this all his life!

Fathers Scorzello and O'Connor joined me recently for a visit to our four men at the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, Nebraska.

Monsignor David Toups was teaching a course on Prayer the day we visited.

Finally, we begin moving in to Deacon House tomorrow!  More to come!!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

On Being Sick...

Here are some reflections I am privileged to share with the Knights of Malta tomorrow during their annual Mass on the Feast of Saint John the Baptist in Osterville.

Lourdes taught me many things, among which was how to ask one very important question: What does it mean?  What does it mean to be sick?

I met an orthopedic surgeon in Lourdes, a newly minted Knight of Malta, whose first contact with our Order came from first being a malade.  

A wildly successful and prosperous surgeon he seemed to have life on a string and it was very good….until they noticed the spot on his brain scan.  A few weeks later the headaches would wake him up in the middle of the night.  And all of a sudden he went from being the doctor with the highest success rate in complex hip replacements, to an old man so weak that he could not stand without the assistance of his wife.

He quickly found out what it meant to be sick.  It meant he was not longer in charge.  He was no longer driving the bus, even of his own life.  Someone else was in charge.  At first, it was just aggravating.  Not having enough energy to do what he wanted to.  But it progressed to needing help to get to the bathroom, and sometimes just standing there like an infant, peeing in his own pants.  And then he started to tremble so much that more food ended up in his lap than in his mouth.

What did it mean for him to be sick?  It meant he was in longer in control.

“But you know," he told me one night as we went out for a walk, “that’ss the greatest gift I could have ever received.  Even better than eventually getting rid of the brain tumor and returning to health.  Getting so sick like that was the greatest gift of my life.

Cause the real sickness I had was thinking that I was in control.  That the purpose of my life was being successful, respected and rich.  And I was really successful, and have a whole wall full of awards and diplomas and three houses, four cars and a really big boat.

No the real sickness was not the one that started with the headaches.  The real sickness was the one that tempted me to forget to pray to God and rely on my own resources, seeking my own pleasure and patting myself on the back for all my wonderful successes.  I was a really sick man.  Not in the head, but in the soul of me…way down deep where its only you and God.

I had forgotten what I learned from the Catechism as a little kid:  That the whole reason God made me was to know him and love him and serve him in this world, in order that I might be happy with him in the next.

And it took that cancer…that blessed cancer…to bring me back to what really matters.

“I remember one night,” he told me, “when I was convinced the cancer was going to kill me.  That night I went to bed and, maybe for he first time in my life, I asked myself the question: What’s this all about?  My life.  My career, My religion.  My marriage,  My kids.

“And it all came flooding in…the truth that its all about the cross, about that man up there on the Cross and about picking up my crosses and trying to love like him: a self-sacrificing, self-emptying love.  That life is not about what we take, but what we give.  And that all suffering, all sacrifice and even sickness itself is but an opportunity too love…to respond to Jesus after we nailed him to the cross, when he looked down at us and said: Love one another as I have loved you….just before he gave his last breath for love of us.

He touched me, that malady turned Knight.  And he answered my question.


As George did, probably twenty years ago, as he watched his wife Mary dying of Cancer.  George and Mary were two of the best Catholics I had ever known as a parish priest in Leominster.  They gave their lives for the Church, day in and day out…whenever you couldn’t find someone else to do it you could always call George and Mary.  

Now they were old and George and the kids were gathered around Mary’s death bed, and it was clear she didn’t have too many minutes to go.  True story.  I got there, and we prayed for a while, and then Mary tugged on my sleeve.  She was breathing irregularly and she signaled for me to come closer so she could whisper in my ear.  And with her dying breath, she said, “Father, I want you to do something for me.”  I looked at this dying Saint and said, “Anything Mary, what do you want.”  Everyone in the room was staring at us, some with tears in their eyes.  “In my bedroom, in George’s closet on the top shelf is a white box.  I want you to find it when I die.  Because in the box is a new white shirt that I want George to wear at the funeral, because I don’t want them saying I didn’t do his laundry!”

I stood up and everyone looked at me to hear the profound last words of their beloved mother.  And she looked up and winked at me.  I told the story at the funeral.

Mary, in the face of her greatest trial had learned what sickness was about.  That we are not made to fear the pain which threatens to swallow us up in the darkness of death.  No, God is to be heard in the quiet stillness of the loving thought, the hopeful glance, the wink that says love lives!  It’s not over, it’s just beginning.  I still care for you.  I will walk with you on your road of sorrows and through the door to the other side. 


I need to remember that the next time I get the flu, and loudly lament to the heavens what did I do to deserve this!  Or when I get a cold next week and curse the unfairness of a God who just does not realize how much important work I have to do.  Or on that day when I will hear that the cancer is malignant, the heart valve irreparable or the virus resistant.

For on that day, in the words of Pope Saint John Paul II, I am called to see my sickness as something more than a personal tragedy, but as an opportunity “to release love, in order to give birth to works of love towards neighbor, in order to transform the whole of human civilization into a civilization of love.” (Apostolic Letter Salvifici doloris, n. 30)

So let is pray for ourselves, that we might one day sing with the Psalmist: “You have taught me, O God, from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds. And now that I am old and grey, O God, forsake me not, till I proclaim your strength to every generation that is to come” (Ps 71:17-18).

Early Music Academy Boston

I am delighted to announce Saint John's Seminary's sponsorship of the first Early Music Academy Boston occurring this summer, July 29 – August 4.  

In collaboration with the successful UK-based Early Music Academy, the week-long course features an intensive study of sacred choral music, under the guidance of internationally-renowned experts in the field:

Andrew Carwood, Director of Music at St. Paul's Cathedral, London and Director of the Cardinall's Musick, joins Janet Coxwell and David Woodcock, previous directors of the Tallis Scholars Summer Schools UK, and current directors of the UK-based Early Music Academy, in leading a choir of approximately 40 voices.  

This year’s Academy focuses on English Renaissance music, with selections by Tallis, Byrd, Taverner, Sheppard and others.

The group will work on concert and service repertoire in a variety of small- and medium-sized groups and the week’s activities culminate in a Gala Concert on Friday, August 4 in the seminary’s beautiful chapel.  

Events open to the public include three noontime recitals, sung Compline every evening, sung Evening Prayer at Saint Cecilia’s Church (Back Bay) on Wednesday, August 2, and a special Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit on Thursday, August 3 at 11:00 am featuring John Taverner’s Missa Mater Christi. I hope you will be able to join us at some point over the week to witness this incredible gathering of talent!

Applications are still being accepted.  We welcome singers aged 18 and over with good sight-reading skills.  Dorm space is available (if needed) and we have reduced rates for commuters. 

For more information and to apply, please visit or contact our Music Director, Dr. Janet Hunt, at 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Congratulations Father Sanderson and Deacon Upham!

There are different graces but the same Spirit, different ministries but the same Lord, different works but the same God, who accomplishes everything in everyone. 

                                                              1 Cor 12: 4-6, the Entrance Antiphon “For the Ministers of the Church”

This weekend I was honored to concelebrate ordinations in Burlington and Portland.  

On Saturday, Father Joseph Sanderson was ordained a Priest in the Co-Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Burlington Vermont by Bishop Christopher Coyne.  Father Sanderson is seen here receiving the Sign of Fraternal Peace from his brother priests.

On Sunday, Deacon Kevin Upham was ordained to the diaconate in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, Maine by Bishop Robert Deeley. Here Deacon Kevin is seen promising obedience and respect to Bishop Deeley an his successors.

Congratulations to them both from the entire Saint John's Seminary community!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Congratulations Father Pease!

Our own Father Barrent Pease was ordained to the Priesthood yesterday by Bishop Mitchell Rozanski at Saint Michael's in Springfield. During his Homily Bishop Rozanski said of Barrent, "“What a joy it is to give thanks to God for that call given to Barrent that has drawn him this day to serve God and his people...It is in his life as a priest, Barrent is called to reveal the humble love of God." Congratulations, Father!

I have become a servant of the Church  according to God’s commission given to me for you. We proclaim Christ, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ Jesus. 
                   Roman Missal, Entrance Antiphon from the Mass for a Priest,  Cf. Col 1: 25, 28.

Boston Diaconate Ordinations

Seven deacons were ordained yesterday by Bishop Peter J. Uglietto for the Archdiocese of Boston at Holy Name Parish in West Roxbury. Among their number were our own Deacon Joseph Kim and Deacon Michael Rora. Also ordained were Deacons Baldemar Garza, Lambert Nieme, Benito Moreno, Andrea Povero, and Eric Velasquez from Redemptoris Mater and Pope Saint John XXIII seminaries respectively. Congratulations to our newest Deacons!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Congratulations Father Schultz and Father Harris!

Deacons Matthew Schultz and David Harris were ordained as priests this morning by Bishop Peter Libasci at the Manchester Cathedral of Saint Joseph.  I had the privilege of presenting them to the Bishop thanks to the kindness of Father Jason Jalbert, Diocesan Director of Vocations and Diocesan Master of Ceremonies.  Here's a quick shot I was able to take while Bishop Libasci was preaching the homily.

From the Homily
Rite of Ordination of Priests

Now, dear sons, you are to be raised to the Order of the priesthood. For your part you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher. Impart to everyone the word of God which you have received with joy. Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practice what you teach.

In this way, let what you teach be nourishment for the people of God. Let the holiness of your lives be a delightful fragrance to Christ's faithful, so that by word and example you may build up the house which is God's Church.
Likewise you will exercise in Christ the office of sanctifying. For by your ministry the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be made perfect, being united to the sacrifice of Christ, which will be offered through your hands in an unbloody way on the altar, in union with the faithful, in the celebration of the sacraments. Understand, therefore, what you do and imitate what you celebrate. As celebrants of the mystery of the Lord's death and resurrection, strive to put to death whatever in your members is sinful, and to walk in newness of life.
Remember, when you gather others into the  people of God through Baptism, and when you forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church in the sacrament of Penance; when you comfort the sick with holy oil and celebrate the sacred rites, when you offer prayers of praise  and thanks to God throughout the hours of the day, not only for the people of God but for the world -- remember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf  for those things that pertain to God. Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ.
Finally, dear sons, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, while united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.