‘I was impressed by the student body [at Pope John XXIII High School], and I had a chance to meet with some of the students in the library.’ Photo courtesy/Pope John XXIII High School
Pope’s visit to Brazil
The visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Brazil this past week was quite significant. Probably half of the Catholics on the planet are in Latin America and they face many challenges, not least of which is aggressive proselytizing by the Pentecostal groups. They also have limited resources, both human and economic. I am sure the Holy Father’s presence with the bishops of Latin America was much appreciated.
In Latin America, the Holy Father was trying to tie in the quest for social justice to the Church’s teaching on our eternal destiny, eternal salvation and the moral conversion that is necessary to truly bring about a revolution in society. Pope Benedict was there to visit Brazil and to officially open the fifth general conference of the Latin American bishops, also known as CELAM. The bishops will continue to meet for the remainder of the month. They face many challenges. We pray that during this time, when the Church begins as we did yesterday our novena for Pentecost, that the Holy Spirit will lead all of us on the path that God wants us to be on and to give us the strength, courage and wisdom to be able to lead God’s people in these challenging times.
I was privileged to be at the Pueblo Conference, which Pope John Paul II opened in Mexico in 1979. It was his first trip after his election. Of course, he was a very young man, and it was a spectacular event. When I was in the West Indies, I participated in other CELAM meetings through the Antillies bishops’ conference as an official observer for the nine years that I was there. So I have many friends and many wonderful experiences related to the CELAM, and I am praying for the success of their conference.
I have just begun to read some of the talks that Pope Benedict gave in Brazil, so I cannot comment further, but I would also like to share with you that I just received “Gesù di Nazaret,” the pope’s new book which looks just wonderful. I am enjoying that thoroughly, and I understand that it is now being published in English. I would encourage everyone to read “Jesus of Nazareth.” Pope Benedict is such a wonderful teacher who makes the teachings of the Church so clear. He also helps people to understand how interconnected our teachings are.
St. Andrew’s Dinner
We also recently held another St. Andrew’s Dinner for young men discerning a call to the priesthood at St. John’s Seminary. There were around 60 high school students there, accompanied by their pastors, youth ministers and teachers. I was particularly pleased that the young men there represented so many ethnic groups. There were Haitians, Vietnamese, Brazilians and Hispanics there. We began with vespers and then there was a dinner and we had a number of the seminarians come to give personal testimony on their vocations, including Carlos Suarez and Greg Vozzo.
The St. Andrew’s Dinners have been particularly successful, and we want to encourage people to contact the Vocation Office to find out more information or suggest names of young men who may be interested in attending a future dinner. Our hope is that more young men will come to discern their vocation earlier, which would allow them to spend more time in seminary formation. Certainly, college seminary is an important way to train priests.
Visiting Pope John XXIII High School
On Thursday, I celebrated Mass for the Ascension in the auditorium of Pope John XXIII High School in Everett. I en-joyed my visit very much.
I was impressed by the student body there, and I had a chance to meet with some of the students in the library. The student population is very representative of the ethnic groups that reside in that area. In the past, it has been very heavily Irish and Italian. Now we see Asians, Vietnamese, Brazilians and Hispanics all represented in the school. That is a good development. Their enrollment is beginning to grow again, so that is a very hopeful sign. The headmaster, Dr. William Fitzgerald was very much involved in the Catholic Worker movement as a young man. He has a great love for his faith, the Church and Catholic education.
Also in this week’s blog:
> Attending lay theologian Christopher West’s talk to the priests of the archdiocese about “Theology of the Body.”
> Honoring retired at BC Club dinner.