“Good Pope John”

Pope John XXIIIToday, the Catholic Church celebrates the life of St. John XXIII, was Pope, Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, from 1958 to 1963.

Born Angelo Roncalli, in the Italian province of Lombardy, to a family of sharecroppers, in 1881. He would be ordained a priest in 1904, serve as an stretcher bearer and chaplain in the Italian army, during World War I. After the war, he would be a bishop’s secretary, papal diplomat to Bulgaria, Turkey, and France. During World War II, he would use his diplomatic and ecclesial status to help hundreds of Jews escape the Holocaust.

He was appointed Patriarch of Venice, Italy, and made a Cardinal, in 1953. In 1958, after the death of Pope Pius XII, he joined other Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, to elect the new Pope. After eleven ballots, Cardinal Angelo Roncalli was elected Pope. As is custom he took a new name, and became Pope John XXIII.

He was expected to be a “caretaker” Pope, his papacy was to be short and uneventful. He shocked everyone when in 1959, he summoned the world’s bishops to what became the Second Vatican Council. He would not live to see it’s conclusion, dying of stomach cancer in 1963.

I have no memories of his pontificate. As an altar server, I witnessed the steady changes that came in the liturgy. When I was in high school, I came across a book listing his memorable sayings, including his more humorous ones. I became attracted to this Pope from the Italian countryside. In seminary, I read his spiritual journal, “Journal of a Soul,” and encountered the deeply spiritual Pope John. And I have read, or at least tried to read his social justice papal encyclicals “letters,” especially his famous “Pacem in Terris.”  I am finding that this letter still has something to say for our times.

Recently, I learned that there is something St. John XXIII and I share; we are both Secular Franciscans.  He joined the OFS during his seminary days, I joined in 1988.  So to my fellow Franciscan, I ask his intercession for our troubled Church, that the Holy Spirit will guide us into living the Gospel life more fully.

Weekend Coffee Share 10/09/2016

deacon coffee mugOver a cup of coffee, I would be telling you about my wife and I attending the 2016 Annual Convocation of Deacons of the Archdiocese of Boston, at the Pastoral Center, in Braintree, MA, yesterday.  There was a very good turnout of deacons, spouses, and men who are in formation for the diaconate.  After some coffee and pastries; the Morning Prayer, we heard a presentation from Deacon Stephen Lape from the Diocese of Albany, NY.  Deacon Lape is also a Licensed Social Worker, and his topic was on Addiction, the types, the addictive substances, and the treatments.  The talk was timely for us, since the Boston area has been going through an opiod addiction crisis.  Some of my brother deacons have been trying to help persons suffering from addiction, and/or their families, through this illness.

After the presentation, we received a report from two of our brother deacons on the results of a survey that was sent out to the Boston Diaconate community on the New Evangelization.  “The New Evangelization “is a term coined by the late Pope St. John Paul II.  The goal in the Archdiocese ofdeacon-convo-2016 Boston is to reach out to those Catholics who may have fallen away from the Church, and invite them back; and to reach out to others who may not be Christians.  This is to be done by having all Catholics realize that we are all called by Christ to become evangelizers; by our words and lives, to show that the Good News of Jesus Christ, still has the power move people’s hearts, and make a difference in their lives.   The goal of the survey was to provide a snapshot for our Cardinal Archbishop, of the work of the diaconate in the Archdiocese, and how it furthers the goals of the New Evangelization.

The survey shows that, as of 10/15/16, there are 166 active Deacons in the Archdiocese.  That a majority of us provide from 5-10 to 10-30 hours of weekly service.  That 52% of us preach on a monthly basis; a majority of us prepare couples to receive the sacrament of marriage; prepare new parents for their child’s baptism, and preside over the celebration of the sacrament; and a majority of us preside over wake services.  The survey also showed a multitude of other social, charitable, and parochial works we are involved in.  There followed small group discussions on how we can further the work of New Evangelization.

By CatholicTV

By CatholicTV

After a celebration of the Eucharist, followed by lunch; we heard a moving talk by Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart.  She is the foundress of an archdiocesan religious community of sisters, “Daughters of Mary of Nazareth” She is a favorite speaker of the Boston Diaconate community, and she did not disappoint.  She is an Iraqi Eastern Rite Catholic nun, who came to this country, in 2001, to finish her education.  She became involved in campus ministry at Boston University.  In 2005, she was received into the Roman Catholic Church, and in 2011, she received permission from Cardinal Sean O’Malley to establish the new religious community.

Mother Olga spoke to us about the need for prayer in our ministries, the need for humility, and the need for faith.  I hope to have more reflections in future posts.

Over a cup of coffee, I would share with you the today’s news that Pope Francis has named 17 individuals to the “scarlet;” cardinals in the Catholic Church.  13 of them are young enough to be electors in future papal conclaves.  Three of them are Americans; Archbishop Cupich of Chicago, Archbishop Tobin CSSR, of Indianapolis, and Bishop Farrell, formerly of Dallas, now Prefect for the newly formed Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life.  With these current and past appointments, Pope Francis is well on his way to leaving his imprint on the Catholic Church, well into the future.

Over a near empty cup of coffee, I would tell you that my wife and I are now visiting her parents and cape-in-the-rainone of her brothers on Cape Cod; and that it is raining cats and dogs, and the wind is blowing very strongly right now.  Ah well.

Well, the cup is empty, and I am now nursing a glass of beer.  I hope to see you next weekend, over a cup of coffee.