ďAs I mentioned in last Fridayís post, I also celebrated the opening Mass for St. John Seminary on Wednesday of last week (Sept. 2).Ē v
Last Friday (Sept. 4) I celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary. This was their opening Mass for the year.
Itís a great joy to see the seminarians at Blessed John XXIII, who come from dioceses throughout the country and who are receiving a wonderful formation there. This seminary was begun by my predecessor, Cardinal Cushing, in response to Pope Johnís statement that a vocation can come at any moment during life. Therefore, he named the seminary after Pope John. The rector Father Peter Uglietto, the faculty, and the Board of Directors are all doing a wonderful job there. Thereís a great spirit in the house.
As I mentioned in last Fridayís post, I also celebrated the opening Mass for St. John Seminary on Wednesday of last week (Sept. 2). The photos did not arrive in time for that post, so I want to share them with you now.
Blessed John XXIII was, in fact, the third seminary I visited in two weeks. The first one was the seminary in Havana, Cuba, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.
I had visited there 10 years ago as the Apostolic Visitator, and I was very, very moved when I realized that 90 percent of the 65 seminarians were converts. They had been atheists, agnostics and communists who attributed their conversion to the Holy Fatherís visit. That was the moment of grace for them to find their way into the Church and, eventually, their vocation to the priesthood. But when I first arrived, the rector discovered a spy infiltrated among the seminarians who had been sent by the government, and, of course, they expelled him immediately. Afterward the rector told me, ďO, bishop, itís just so shocking. This young man was so pious, so studious, so polite, so punctual.Ē I told him: ďThat should have been a dead giveaway!Ē
That evening, I presided over the religious profession of Brother Labrie-Marie of the Little Brothers of St. Francis at Mission Church.
It was very well attended. There were many religious from other communities there, as well as friends and relatives and many of the people that the Little Brothers minister to. Theirs is a very contemplative community, but with a special ministry to the poor and to the street people. Their house is very close to Mission Church and theyíre very much a part of that community. (Some people refer to them as the Sons of Levi because their habit looks like denim!)
The profession was held on the Feast of the Nativity of Mary. It was the 39th Anniversary to the day of the founding of their community by Brother James Curran.
I told them during my sermon that on that very day, 39 years ago on the feast of the Blessed Mother, I celebrated my first public Mass, which was for Nuestra Senora de la Caridad del Cobre with the Cuban community in Washington at St. Matthew Cathedral.
Agrupacion Catolica Universitaria
Wednesday afternoon, I was paid a visit by some friends whom I know from my long involvement with the Agrupacion Catolica Universitaria.
ACU is a wonderful Christian life community of professional Catholic men. It was started in Cuba at Belen -- the Jesuit school in Havana -- by a Spanish Jesuit named Padre Felipe Rey de Castro. His assistant was Padre Amando Llorente, who is still the spiritual director and in charge of the movement.
During my 20 years in Washington, I was very involved with that movement.
When I worked at the Centro Catolico, because our budget was very limited and we had literally many thousands of refugees we were serving, we depended greatly on volunteers. It was the Agrupados and their wives who stepped forward and were an incredible help in so many ways. Many of them were doctors, and helped begin the medical clinics, the dental clinics, and the educational programs there.