A mug with the bicentennial theme, “Journey together in Christ” Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy
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Last week, I attended a meeting of the Bicentennial Committee that has worked diligently for over two years on our upcoming celebration of the Archdiocese of Boston’s 200th anniversary.
At the meeting, we talked about the calendar of events, and there was a great sense of hopefulness in the plans for the bicentennial year.
Under the leadership of Father Bob Connors, the committee has planned various activities, including the celebration’s opening Mass on the first Sunday of Advent, Dec. 2. Hopefully representatives from all parishes and Catholic organizations will be able to come to Holy Cross Cathedral to mark that day with us.
We are now just [a few] weeks away from launching the bicentennial, and I would like to give Father Connors the opportunity to tell you more about it:
I would like to thank Cardinal Seán for giving me this opportunity to share with you some of the initial programs surfacing for the Bicentennial of the Archdiocese of Boston. The Church of Boston is about to reach a wonderful milestone. On April 8, 1808, in order to address the increase of Catholic immigrants, the Diocese of Baltimore -- the only diocese in the United States at the time -- was divided into four new dioceses: New York, Philadelphia, Bardstown, Ky. (now Louisville) and Boston. Initially, the Diocese of Boston covered most of New England. As the need led to more dioceses, Boston encompassed Maine and Massachusetts, and finally, the boundary that we have today outlined roughly by Route 495. In those 200 years, the history of the archdiocese has been blessed with people, places and events and has influenced both the country and the world. Like any institution or family, our history has had its highs and lows, reminding us of our human limits and dependence on the Lord. However, from unique and spirit-filled personalities to the missionary zeal of the St. James Society to the extreme generosity by the people of the archdiocese, we have a rich history of which we can be very proud. This bicentennial moment is an opportunity to continue our mission and ministry in bringing the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ to all. It is a moment of revitalization.
For almost two years, the Bicentennial Committee, representing a broad spectrum of the people and ministries of the archdiocese, has met on a regular basis to prepare for this upcoming moment. The committee has been consistently enthused and we are so grateful for the support Cardinal Seán has given us. From the very beginning his vision was to use this milestone to re-energize the Church of Boston. It is a time to acknowledge our past and to move into the future; a time of reconciliation and forgiveness; a time of healing and hope; a time of evangelization and welcome to so many that are separated from the Church. The logo for the Bicentennial stresses this journey, history and hope for Boston. The theme says it directly: “Journey Together in Christ.” This year of celebration can be a catalyst for unity in the Lord, who is our help and our salvation. As we begin, all the parishes and agencies of the Archdiocese have been invited to use the Bicentennial to enhance their own local goals as we join together to build the Church of Boston. We are excited and confident that “together” we can journey forward in Christ.
Our official year of celebration begins on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2007, with an opening liturgy at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. The cardinal has designated the 2008 Liturgical Year for our time frame. We begin on the first Sunday of Advent; we end on the feast of Christ the King -- Nov. 23, 2008. Coincidentally, it is the Year A of the Liturgical Cycle -- centering on the Gospel of Matthew. When Matthew wrote his Gospel, he addressed the Jewish/Christian community in the years after the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Many of the converts to the faith were drifting away and questioning their loyalty and faith in the Lord and his message. Matthew uses his Gospel to convince them that they made the right decision. He encouraged them to remain loyal to the Church for it was a precious gift they needed to rediscover. How apropos of our own time: his message then is the message of today. During the year many events will be held throughout the Archdiocese. Most of the information will be readily available on the new web site which one can reach at www.Boston200.org or through a link on the archdiocesan web site at www.rcab.org.
Let me share with you a few of the upcoming events that are in the organization stage. Immediately after the Opening Liturgy on Dec. 2, all the parishes have been asked to conduct a three-day retreat to begin our bicentennial year. During the Season of Advent, as a total archdiocese, we will be asking for the Lord to “come” into our lives in a special way. The retreat may be held in individual parishes or clusters in an area, and the idea is to have us all praying together during this “preparation” Season of Advent prior to Christmas. From then, we hope to have a wide variety of events and programs.
The Catholic colleges of the archdiocese will have special programs and seminars surrounding the bicentennial themes. Each region of the archdiocese, under the guidance of the regional bishops, will set aside a special day to gather all the people of the region -- young and old -- and celebrate our being a Catholic family. There are special projects being developed to honor the work and ministry of the religious men and women who have served the archdiocese so well over the past 200 years. Another on-going effort is gathering an oral history, especially through the experience of the senior priests of the archdiocese. Our Catholic schools and parish religious education programs will offer special events and programs for the young. The service agencies of the archdiocese will be using the bicentennial as a catalyst to enhance their own specific service and ministry. The Pilot, the oldest continuous running Catholic newspaper in the country -- another gift from Boston -- will offer articles and information during the year. That communication will be enhanced by the efforts of Boston Catholic Television. We all know that a major contribution has been made by the ethnic communities of the archdiocese over the past two centuries. The diversity of the Church of Boston is extensive and affirming our unity in that diversity is an important priority. Not forgetting our youth, the bicentennial will join with Proud 2B Catholic next summer to center on families, youth and young adults -- all they have given, and all they can give as our journey continues -- for they are the future of our Church.
So it is about to begin in a few weeks and I want to extend an invitation to each of you to join our effort to make this year a year of grace and hope. Volunteer in your parish to help with any plans that are being made; reach out to your family and neighbors who may be distant from the Church right now and invite them to return; and, above all, pray for us all -- that this bicentennial year will bear great fruit for our archdiocese and its people as we journey together in Christ.
God bless you all.
Father Bob Connors
Also in this week’s blog:
? Attending an evening in appreciation for the dedicated service of lay leaders in the archdiocese
? Joining in an evening of prayer with the seminarians at St. John’s Seminary.
? Celebrating a Mass at the cathedral for altar servers.
? Celebrating the Red Mass.