Friday, June 29, 2018

Thank you, Rich!

The transitions at SJS continue, as Rich Flaherty retires today as Director of Administration and Finance. The complex realities of Seminary administration cannot be navigated by a Rector alone, and his dedication and expertise are an integral part of each success we have realized. Thanks, Rich! Ad multos annos!

Our new Vice President for Administration and Finance, Tricia Fraser, begins work on July 9th. Mary Millman, my new Executive Secretary, begins work today. Saint John’s is so blessed to benefit from the collaboration of all the dedicated professionals who go to make up the Seminary Staff. Please remember them in your grateful prayers.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Thank you Joanne!!!

This week is a time of transitions in the Rector’s Office, as Joanne Murphy retires after many years of devoted service as Executive Secretary to three Rectors. I give thanks to God for Joanne’s competence, constant support and patience! Ad multos annos!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Five Things You Need to Know About the Liturgy

Here's a short talk I gave today at the Theological Institute entitled, Five Things You Need to Know About the Liturgy.


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

So many great ideas!

Here's a quick photo from the Theological Institute's "Think Tank" which convened this past week at our offices in Braintree, strategizing ways to expand our recruitment of Lay Ecclesial Ministers for the Church of tomorrow! We are so grateful for all the good ideas which emerged from this important consultation!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Congratulations to Father Madejski and Father Wilbur

Father David Madejski and Father Joshua Wilbur were ordained by Archbishop Leonard Blair in Saint Joseph’s Cathedral in Hartford yesterday and celebrated their first Masses today at Holy Cross Church, New Britain and St. Thomas of Villanova in Goshen. Here are some photos from their First Masses.

Father Raymond Van De Moortell preached
at Father Wilbur's First Mass.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Congratulations Father Kevin Upham!

On May 26th, Father Kevin Upham was ordained by Bishop Robert Deeley at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland. Monsignor Caron represented Saint John’s Seminary. 

In the course of his instruction, Bishop Deeley expressed his gratitude to Father Upham “for hearing and following the call of the Lord, which has brought him to this day. We are grateful also to his parents for their own prayerful participation in the life of the Church, which led Kevin to come to know Jesus and to be open to hear this call.”

Congratulations Deacon Brendan Rowley and Deacon Eric Silva!

Bishop Robert Evans ordained Deacon Brendan Rowley and Deacon Eric Silva on May 26th at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence. Father O’Connor represented the Seminary at this wonderful celebration.

Congratulations to Deacon Ryan Healy and Deacon David Wong!

Deacon Ryan Healy was ordained on May 19th by Bishop Da Cunha at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River. Father Cessario was present to represent Saint John’s Seminary.

Deacon David Wong (left) was ordained on May 26th by Bishop Libasci at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Manchester. Monsignor McLaughlin was present to represent Saint John’s Seminary.

Congratulations to Fathers Gill, Munoz and Nunes

On June 9th I was delighted to be present for the ordination of Father Juan Carlos Muñoz Montoya, Father Daniel M. Nunes, and Father Matthew G. Gill.  Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V. ordained them in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River.  Please join us in giving thanks to God for these great men who will now serve the Church in Fall River.  Ad multis annos!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Eternal Rest Grant Unto Her, O Lord!

Last week we were privileged to join Father Christopher O'Connor, Vice Rector of Saint John's Seminary, as he celebrated the Funeral Mass for his mother Jean O'Connor at Saint Margaret's Church in Dorchester. Also present at the Funeral Mass with a large number of friends, family and priests was Jean's husband Kevin, Father's sister Erin and brother Jonathan. Our continuing prayers go out to them all.

Father O'Connor preached this wonderful and touching homily.

When it comes to Jesus Christ, CS Lewis the great Christian Christian thinker tells us that we have really three options: He was a lunatic, a liar or Lord. Another author put it this way: Christ was either mad, bad, or God.

Upon the death of her brother Lazarus: Martha in our scripture passage is confronted with those three options about Christ: lunatic, liar or Savior. Christ tells her: I am the Resurrection and the Life whoever believes in me will never die. Martha makes a statement of faith: I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God.

Mom knew Jesus Christ to be Lord and so we gather to give thanks for her life, to console one another, and to ask Christ in his mercy to welcome Mom into the gift of Heaven.

God gives us so many gifts. It was through a CYO dance in the basement of this very Church that Mom and Dad met. They were prom sweethearts. Dad waited for Mom to come home from her senior trip from NYC waiting for her bus with a bunch of roses. He recognizes now a piece of gold jewelry would have clinched the deal a lot easier. God in his eternal goodness brought them together. Dad and Mom enjoyed the gift of marriage for 49.5 years. A holy Marriage that occurred in this beautiful Church. They have given excellent testimony to their marriage vows: in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health til death do us part. As the breathing tube was removed from her, Mom’s first question was Where is my husband?

Through that marital gift came the gift of children: Christopher, Erin and Jonathan. That Jesus is life and Resurrection was imparted to us as soon as we could walk and talk. It was easy for us to profess a loving and merciful God for we had a mother who loved us in spite of our successes and our failures. She loved us… Period. That same love was demanded of each of us. I used to be jealous when I was younger when a friend would tell me that he was not speaking for days or weeks to one of his siblings. That simply was not allowed in our house. There could be explosions and disagreements, but by the close of business all of that was to be put behind you. For we were taught: Love is more important. That same love that Mom and Dad shared allowed my sister to bring her husband Scott and four sons into the fold. Nan loved and continues to love: Matthew, Nick, Chris and Noah. You were her pride and joy!

Our hope and prayer at this mass is that Christ the Good Shepherd lead Mom to life in Heaven. What is Heaven? It is the place or reality that God prepares for those who love Him. In Heaven, we join with all the angels and the saints in beholding the face of God which radiates his goodness and love. Heaven is where we join all those friends and family members who have gone before us. One of my nephews like Martha in the past few days made a statement of faith. He said: Uncle Chris Nan is in Heaven with and he named one of our family friends. This is the mystery of our Christian faith. Christ through his Cross frees us from the effects of sin and death, and welcomes us to the New Jerusalem where there is no suffering, no pain, no division but perfect love. Eternal love. Love that never quits.

After giving a homily once on Heaven, a college student came up to me and asked me: is Heaven boring…you know: me looking at God and God looking at me all day long? I asked him have you ever been in love? Has someone ever loved you? There is nothing boring about love. It is energizing and exhilarating. And so there is nothing boring about Heaven which gives firsthand: God’s love. The scriptures describe Heaven as feast, a banquet, a party. Which is why I have no problem with two or three desserts. Mom did have a problem with it however: She would wait til I had the second piece of something and say: Buster, slow down, you are going to have a heart attack! Heaven is the place where God showers us with his everlasting love. It is perfect love and so it is enriching, and powerful. It brings joy and happiness. It consumes us and makes us perfect. We know what human love is, we have a glimpse of God’s love here on Earth, but we await the true gift of Heaven. Human love pales in comparison to the divine. Eye has not seen; ear has not heard what God has ready for those who love Him.

Recently I discovered the motto for the O’Connor clan throughout the world. It reads: From God every help. It is a perfect motto. It is a clear reminder to us OConnors that everything we have is pure gift—God-given. He gives life. He gives us family and friends for communion and support. He gives us priests. He gives us this Eucharist where we ponder and are drawn into the mystery of Christ’s life, death, and Resurrection. Being drawn into Christ’s sacrificial love we pray that Mom’s soul might rest in Heaven. This Eucharist asks us to allow us ourselves to be drawn into a mystery which requires lifting our heads from the ordinary and the sadness of loss to the gift of Heaven. The Eucharist places in our midst not a lunatic or a liar but the saving presence of Jesus.

Christ’s death on the cross teaches us that Christian death requires surrender. Death required Mom and it will require each of us to surrender all the helps that God has given us here and now for the something greater that only Jesus and Heaven promise!

Pray with me that Christ welcome Mom into the gift of Heaven. From God Every Help!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Congratulations Deacon Little!

I was delighted to concelebrate the Burlington ordinations last weekend as our own Deacon Robert Little was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Christopher Coyne at Saint Joseph's Cathedral in Burlington last weekend.  Here are some shots from the new Deacon's investiture in a dalmatic for the first time.

Blessed arthey who dwell in youhouse, O Lord. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Corpus Christi in Webster...

Last Sunday I was delighted to be back home at Saint Joseph's Basilica in Webster for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. After Mass we processed along the streets of Webster with the Blessed Sacrament. Here is the homily I preached.

Today we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christ, the Body and Blood of the Lord. We sometimes say we are going to Mass or to the Eucharist, or, more often, I'm going to Communion.

But why do we call it Communion? With whom do we commune?

As any first communion candidate could tell you, it is Jesus who comes to live in us whenever we say Amen and receive his Body and Blood.

Our Holy Communion is with Jesus in heaven, on earth, and in our hearts.

Now Communion with Jesus in heaven is pretty easy to figure out. The Mass is a participation in the heavenly banquet, a communion with the Church in heaven. As Pope John Paul II tells us in his encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, “in celebrating the sacrifice of the Lamb, we are united to the heavenly ‘liturgy’ and become part of that great multitude which cries out: ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!’ (Rev 7:10) The Eucharist is truly a glimpse of heaven appearing on earth. It is a glorious ray of the heavenly Jerusalem which pierces the clouds of our history and lights up our journey (EE, no. 19).”

If we look all around us, we should be able to imagine what is really there, though unseen. Angels and Saints rejoicing and sharing in communion with Jesus. Look around you and you will see them: Grandmothers who have gone before us in faith, ancestors who intercede for us from the place of the blessed. This Church, like every celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, is crowded with our invisible friends.

We will get a glimpse of that in just a few minutes when I raise the consecrated Bread and Wine before you and declare: “Behold the Lamb of God...How Blessed are they who are called to the Supper of the Lamb!” Not just this supper, but the heavenly supper and the supper in the upper room…for in the Holy Eucharist all time and space disappear and we are made one with Christ upon the cross and Christ in glory and Christ as he comes to us on that altar.

But our Holy Communion is not just with Jesus in heaven. This Communion is also here on earth.The account of the Last Supper in Matthew, Mark, and Luke centers, of course, on the Lord’s gift of the Holy Eucharist. But in the Gospel of John, this Communion is described in the washing of the feet.

To be in communion with the Lord Jesus is not just to eat his body, but to wash the feet of the members of his body, to serve him in the least, the littlest, and the most forgotten. If it is true that whatever we do to the least of them we do to him, then if we are in communion with him, we must be in holy communion with them as well. That’s why Saint Paul says that it is "unworthy" of a parish community to receive Holy Communion and at the same time to ignore the poor (cf. 1 Cor 11:17-22, 27-34, cf. EE, no. 34).

And if we are in communion with Jesus in heaven and in the poor man who lives out there on the street, we will also come to recognize him living in our hearts.

For in Holy Communion I came to know Jesus, who was like me in every way but sin---Jesus who understands the pains of my heart, the sorrows that bring tears, and the worries that ache deep inside. In Holy Communion I come to know Jesus, who promises me eternal happiness with him at the heavenly banquet of the Lamb at the end of all time. In Holy Communion I come to know Jesus, who gives me the grace to love, to wash feet, to seek out lost sheep, to pray for those who hate me, to forgive those who hurt me and to love others as he loved me from the wood of the cross.

And that is our Holy Communion, with Jesus who comes down from heaven upon that altar, who makes us like himself in loving all who need us, and who dwells in our hearts.

And how blessed are we who are called to the Supper of the Lamb!

The Rome Experience Arrives in Rome...


Our own John Larochelle is one of twenty-one seminarians on The Rome Experience.  Having returned from a retreat in Ars and freshly inspired by reflecting on the Curé, the seminarians from across the country are beginning classes in Rome this week.  Please keep John in your prayers as he studies and prays beneath the shadow of the Dome!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Home with my Presbyterate...

I am blessed these days to be studying and praying with my brothers at the annual Worcester Presbyteral Assembly.  

A few of us were speaking tonight about the moment in the Rite of Ordination of a Priest when the Priests of a Presbyterate exchange the Sign of Peace with the newly ordained "as a sign of reception into the presbyterate." From that moment on, the Priest is a part of "one presbyterate in union with their Bishop...virtuous co-workers with the episcopal Order, called to serve the people of God..." (Ordination of a Priest, no. 101).

I have been honored to be a member of the Worcester Presbyterate now for thirty-eight years, which is why, in these days, it is so good to be home.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Congratulations Dr. John Skalko!

Yet another member of our Faculty was awarded his Doctorate a few weeks ago when Dr. John Skalko successfully defended his doctoral dissertation at the University of Saint Thomas in Houston. His dissertation was entitled " “Why is it Intrinsically Evil to Violate the Purpose of a Power or Use Assertions Unnaturally?” and was directed by Dr. Steve Jensen. A number of us gathered for a celebratory dinner this evening. On behalf of the entire Saint John's Seminary community, congratulations Dr. Skalko!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Congratulations to the Reverend Doctor Ryan Connors!

It was a wonderful day for Saint John's Seminary in Rome today, as the Degree of Doctor of Theology was awarded to Father Ryan Connors, a member of our own Faculty. I was delighted that Father Romanus Cessario, O.P. was on hand to offer the toast at the Doctoral Dinner following the Reverend Doctor's successful defense.

Toast of Honor upon Receiving the Ecclesiastical Doctorate For
Reverend Ryan Wilson Connors, S.T.D.
Rome, 1 June 2018
Romanus Cessario, O.P.
Saint John’s Seminary

In 1636, an English divine named Roger Williams was banished for his liberal religious views from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In order to escape Puritan pursuit, this exiled preacher had to travel a great distance into the New England wilderness. Once across the Seekonk River, Williams met Narragansett Indians who greeted him with the words, “What cheer, Neetop.” Neetop in Algonquin means “friend.” Thus began felicitously what today we know as the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The sachem or chief of the Narragansett Indians whom Williams met bore the name, Canonicus. Nomen est omen. The name speaks for itself. Williams called his new settlement “Providence.” For he believed that God himself ordained his reaching this delightful corner of New England that, because of its extensive exposure to the sea, came to be called the “Ocean State.”

Events in Rome around 1636 exposed a different side of human culture. No animal skin–clad natives teaching Roger Williams how to eat raw quahogs. No low–church dissenters preaching religious liberty and freedom of conscience. No Baptist ministers bashing Constantine the Great. [Williams considered Constantine more the Church’s enemy than Nero!] No, none of these humors. By contrast, the pontificate of Pope Urban VIII (1623–44) displayed urbane sophistication, polite but firm correction of Galileo’s then controversial hypothesis about the sun, and a very strong defense of the Papal States and their integrity, even their territorial augmentation.

Today Providence and Rome come together in the successful achievements of a very gifted young priest, Father Ryan Wilson Connors. Eventually, Catholics came to populate Rhode Island. Eventually too, Pope John Paul II came to succeed Pope Urban VIII. The former greatly influenced the erstwhile Capitol Hill intern to choose a vocation higher than marriage and lay life. Ryan was ordained in June 2012. Providence then moved Providence to put Father Connors at the service of seminary instruction. What Cheer, Neetop! Again, Providence (with its several secondary instruments) arranged for his studying with Father Sherwin and the Angelicum Dominicans. What Cheer! Now Father Connors returns to take up his priestly work on the Boston side of the Seekonk River. Many voices resound with the words, “What Cheer.” Surely his parents, Joe and Lisa Connors, rejoice. After all, Brighton stands closer to Providence than does Rome. Cardinal O’Malley and the Rector of Saint John’s Seminary, Monsignor James Moroney, rejoice. Talented, credentialed, and young seminary professors are difficult to come by these days. And the Saint John’s seminarians rejoice, especially those from Providence. They will find in Father Connors an image of Christ’s priesthood with which they can identify. What Cheer divine Providence ordains for Christ’s Church, especially at a time when the promotion and formation of diocesan priests require her best efforts and best priests.

Now, dear friends who have gathered in Rome from Providence, Boston, Fribourg, and other places, I invite you to join me in honoring Doctor Ryan Connors, who today receives the awesome responsibility of sustaining young men in the grace that leads to their priestly ordinations. What better toast may we offer than that of his Rhode Island forebear, Canonicus, the Narragansett sachem? So let us raise our glasses and say together, What Cheer!