From Cardinal Seán’s blog

Each year we have a holy hour and a Mass on New Year’s Eve as a way of ending the old year and beginning the new. It is a custom that I have observed every year since I was ordained a priest. In fact, when I was in the West Indies, it was the biggest celebration of the year -- people could not fit into the churches; many were outside looking in the windows.

When I came to Boston I was very pleased to see that the tradition was already in place here. Of course, I have been pleased to be able to continue it.

The Pro-life and Young Adult Offices have been key sponsors of this Mass and the holy hour often has a pro-life theme. This year the theme was centered around the vocation of marriage as part of the marriage initiative currently underway in the four dioceses of Massachusetts. It was our pleasure to hear two testimonies on the vocation of marriage.

Marianne Luthin, director of the Pro-life Office, as always, worked very hard to prepare the event, which was held at St. Mary Parish in Waltham. We are also very grateful to Father Michael Nolan and his parishioners for hosting the Mass. After the Mass, they served coffee, cookies and things, and people had the chance to socialize.

There was wonderful participation; the church was filled. Those in attendance were a wonderful reflection of the diversity of our archdiocese. There were African, Syro-Malabar and Hispanic Catholics. The congregation was young and old. I was also pleased to see many of the seminarians were there.

Visiting Regina Cleri

On Thursday I celebrated a Mass with the residents of Regina Cleri, the retirement residence for priests in Boston.

The auxiliary bishops, vicar general and some of the priests in ministerial and priestly services always make an effort join us for the Mass which is celebrated around Christmastime.

This year, the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master had decorated the chapel so beautifully -- the crèche and the altar. I told them that every year the chapel seems to be decorated more splendidly.

Following the Mass I had an opportunity to greet and chat with some of the priests before sitting down to a very festive meal -- a turkey dinner that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.

Stem-cell research

Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to comment on the very encouraging advances in stem-cell research that does not involve immoral methods or the destruction of human embryos.

In light of the latest discovery employing adult skin cells, the bishops of Massachusetts issued a statement calling on the governor and our leaders in the Commonwealth to look carefully at these advances. We want to avoid putting all of our resources in methods that are immoral and have been unproductive.

We see here how faith and reason always coincide. Some people think that there is a contradiction, but as faith illumines reason, it leads us closer to the path of truth.

We hope that the statement will have some impact on the government and help educate people as to what is going on. The Church is not indifferent to the suffering of people with Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and so many other terrible diseases. Indeed, we are anxious for cures to be discovered. However, we are convinced that whatever we do, it must respect the dignity of human life and the human person. It should never turn human life into some sort of commodity that can be used to make medicine. And if we follow moral and humane procedures, then we will find the cures that we are all longing for.

Also in this week’s blog:

> Celebrating Mass with the Haitian community