From Cardinal Seán’s blog

On Jan. 22, I will be attending the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. We expect to have very good attendance from Massachusetts, particularly with young people. We have been encouraging the youth to participate in the march as a way of experiencing another reality of the life of the Church.

However, we also want to encourage others who are able to travel to the nation’s capital to be a part of the celebrations at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and the march itself. Those who cannot attend can participate by praying for the safety of everyone there and for the success of the march. They can also view the Masses and the other programs part of the March for Life on Catholic television stations.

The campaign against abortion in our country has been a long one, but we have seen great strides made. In part, that is because we have not let the issue die. Many are committed to continue to witnessing to the gospel of life, and we are very grateful for those who can go to the march and be personally present.

Visiting the Trappistine sisters

Last Saturday I went to visit the Trappistine sisters at Mount St. Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham. The Trappistine community there has over 50 sisters and many young women in formation. Their chaplain is Father Augustine, from St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer.

The Trappistine life is one of prayer and work. There is such a joy and a peace in the place that it is always a wonderful spiritual experience to visit them.

... Also this week I had Mass for the cloistered Carmelite sisters in Danvers. That community also has sisters in formation, and they have a wonderful community life. They live the traditional cloistered life of the Carmelites -- the spirituality of St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Edith Stein.

The Clergy Services Group

As a follow-up to our two convocations of priests held in the fall, we’ve begun a series of regional meetings in which the priests can come together in their own areas of the diocese for prayer, a light lunch, some presentations and dialogue. This week, we were in the South and Merrimack regions. The meetings were moderated by our vicar general, Father Rich Erikson.

Central to the conversation was the work of the six-priest team which is the Clergy Services Group. To have six priests -- four full time and two part time -- looking out for the priests and deacons of the archdiocese is a blessing and a sign of the diocese’s esteem and care for her clergy.

Since I’m sure many of you are unfamiliar with the Clergy Services Group, allow me to share a little bit about who the members are and the role they play assisting their brother priests:

Father Art Coyle is the cabinet secretary for Pastoral and Ministerial Services and acts as convener and coordinator of the group.

Father Brian Clary is the director of the Priest Recovery Program. He assists clergy and their communities with issues related to addictions.

Father Ed Condon is the vicar for Pastoral Care of Priests, making personal visits a major part of his work.

Father Bob Deehan is the director of Clergy Personnel, with particular responsibility for coordinating and recommending assignments of priests and deacons.

Father Jim Flavin has just begun full-time work as director of Pastoral Care of Priests and moderator of the clergy fund, having just completed his term as pastor at St. Edith Stein Parish in Brockton. He gives special attention to the emotional and physical health of our priests and has oversight of the funds that provide for priests’ health benefits and retirement needs.

Father Bill Kelly is the director of the Office for Clergy Support and Ongoing Formation. He is responsible for fielding questions, planning retreats, lectures and workshops, and also reaching out to priests and deacons on a daily basis.

We are blessed, and unique among dioceses, to have so many priests serving their brothers and we look forward to the rest of the regional meetings in February.

Also in this week’s blog

> Celebrating Christmas with the Ge’ez-rite Catholic community

> Attending the inauguration of the president of Archbishop Williams High School

> Celebrating a 25th wedding anniversary