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AS WE WAIT – blog

Posted By March 28, 2013 | 4:40 am | Featured Article #4
We thank all of our contributors to As We Wait blog. From watching Benedict XVI's helicopter to Pope Francis' inauguration Mass we have been brought closer to Rome by first-hand accounts from local college students, seminarians, priests and lay people. We will update this blog on occasion as our bloggers send in new information. Peace to All.

We thank all of our contributors to our As We Wait blog.
From watching Benedict XVI’s helicopter leave the Vatican to Pope Francis’ inauguration Mass we have been brought closer to Rome by first-hand accounts from local college students, seminarians, priests and lay people. We will update this blog on occasion as our bloggers send in new information. Peace to All.


Check photo gallery, above,  for more photos from Tuesday’s installation Mass sent in by Seminarian Donato Infante.

Worcester seminarian Donato Infante III (left) with David Kidd (Diocese of Toledo in America) and Josh Laws (Baltimore). Photo courtesy of Donato Infante

Worcester seminarian Donato Infante III (left) with David Kidd (Diocese of Toledo in America) and Josh Laws (Baltimore). Photos courtesy of Donato Infante


Pope Francis waves to the thousands of people in St. Pete’s Square who came for his installation Mass Tuesday.



Once-in-a-lifetime experience

By Kaitlyn Cardey

“It’s absolutely amazing all of the things going on here in Rome!
“I had the pleasure of attending the last audience of Pope Benedict XVI, witnessing his helicopter taking off to take him to Castel Gandolfo, being in Saint Peter’s Square for the white smoke and the announcement of ‘Habemus Papam!’ and being in the Square for (Pope Francis’) installation.  Unfortunately, I was outside the Square for the Angelus, but I was still there.    “We are really in the heart of it all.  The crowds are huge, loud, and excited.  Even when I go out, talk always turns to the Pope and what he’s doing and how he’s changing things up.  Pope Francesco is giving everyone a run for their money and is probably driving his body guards crazy but the people love him and that’s all that really matters.
“Like I said, on Wednesday I was right there in the Square.  My friends and I went down to the Vatican because we wanted to see the smoke at least once.  We were sure that it was going to be black but we were not going to be able to go down the next morning due to our class schedule and we heard that the white smoke was going to happen then.  So, when we saw the black smoke, we were not surprised.  Then, all of a sudden, the smoke turned white!  We could not believe what we saw, yet we all grabbed each other and ran as far up as we could, which was about 100 feet or so from the barrier.  All around us people were screaming, ‘VIVA IL PAPA!!!’  The crowd was going wild and it was getting bigger and bigger by the minute.  It was absolutely amazing … and then came the wait. Once everyone died down a bit, the wait for the Pope started to feel like forever, especially with people pressing at you on all sides.
“Finally, after what seemed like hours, the Cardinal came out on the balcony.  I’m just starting the process of learning Italian and I don’t know any Latin so I had no idea what he said other than, ‘Habemus Papam!’ and ‘Francesco.’  The crowd went insane when they mentioned the name that the new Pope had chosen!  Saint Francis of Assisi is really popular here.    When the Cardinal stepped back inside, he did it among cheers of ‘VIVA IL PAPA!!’ and ‘PAPA FRANCESCO!!’
“And when Pope Francesco finally stepped out onto the balcony, the crowd was chanting, screaming, waving, and jumping.  I have never been in a crowd that rowdy that was able to be silenced by one man speaking.  When Pope Francesco asked for us all to pray for him I swear that you could have heard a pin drop, the square was that silent.
“The whole experience of that night was overwhelming and awesome!  It’s hard to find words to describe it and even the words I have used pale in comparison to the actual experience.    “I don’t have much to say about the Angelus because I was unable to get into the Square.  I was, unfortunately, outside the Square.  I could hear the Pope and I could see him from his apartment window, but I was not in the middle of the crowd like I was at the white smoke.   The crowd outside was small and we were just trying to actually see the Pope so there wasn’t much yelling.
“Pope Francesco’s installation Mass is a whole other story, though.  I got up at 5 in the morning in order to be at the gates by 6:30.  I went with two Assumptionist priests, two Assumption nuns, and an alumnus from Assumption.  We got into the central part of the Square, the section right behind the seated section, and we were right on the barrier.  We had to stand there for two hours before Mass.
“Then, Pope Francesco came out a half an hour before he was supposed to.  I was in the section that most of the religious were in and all the nuns were going crazy.
“Francesco Primo!” was the chant of choice this time in Saint Peter’s Square.      Then the Pope went into Saint Peter’s and the singing started. I thought that it was remarkable that the Mass had so many different languages in it: English, Spanish, Greek, Italian, Latin, Chinese, Arabic, among others.  Being in the square during the installation of the Pope is once-in-a-lifetime event.  I might never be back in Rome again to witness another installation, but I’m glad that I had this experience.
“I have witnessed history here in Rome.  I never imagined in my wildest dreams that, for the first time in 600 years, the Pope would resign.  Then, to have that happen and to have a new Pope elected in the short amount of time that I am in Rome for is just mind-boggling.”

Kaitlyn Cardey, 20

at Assumption College’s Rome Campus


A minister of Communion for Pope’s installation

Tuesday March 19 – Feast of St. Joseph

By Father Bob Grattaroti

The installation was absolutely amazing. I walked over to St. Peter’s Square at about 10 minutes to 8 a.m., met a bishop from Kosovo, who along with his secretary, walked with me.  He asked if I were a Jesuit, because I was wearing a Jesuit style cassock, with no buttons and a plain sash. I replied that I wasn’t but that I had been taught by Jesuits. It was great walking with him, because it expedited the 4 “check points” we went through to get in.
At about 8:10, as I finally got into the Square I noticed that the Piazza was 90 percent  filled for a 9:30 Mass.     Since I was a minister of Communion, I went past the Swiss Guards to the Bronze Gate where we were given surplices and stoles, and then we lined up for the procession which began at 8:30 a.m.
There were at least 500 of us distributors of Holy Communion and I couldn’t help but notice that the average age of them was about 35.
We had outstanding seats in the Square, just next to the large statue of St. Peter on the left side of the piazza. I was sitting with a student priest from the College, Father Bergida, whom I had met here several times upon my arrival.
The Holy Father came out in his popemobile at about 9 a.m. and circled the piazza. I was so close as he took the turn that I could almost touch him. He then went into the Basilica to the tomb of St. Peter along with the Patriarchs of the Eastern Churches to incense the remains of St. Peter. Then the pallium and papal ring were carried in procession to the sanctuary area while the litany of saints was being sung.  The people then sang: “Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat” which means, Christ conquers, Christ rules, Christ commands.
Pope Francis’ homily was most inspiring,  which I am sure will have read by now, and what particularly struck me, was the sound of his voice. Believe it or not, a tear came to my eye as I heard him address the world, and his voice sounded so similar to that of Pope John XXIII’s, whom I had heard many times in my student days here.
There were at least a million people gathered, and the day was stunningly beautiful, with sparkling sunshine and a gentle breeze, a sharp contrast to the rain, cold and damp we had  been experiencing all week long.
We were very close to the diplomatic corp, and could easily see the representatives of the Jewish faith, as well as a Muslim delegation, along with others from different faith traditions.
The ceremony lasted almost three hours and it was most prayerful and inspiring even with a congregation of a million people.
I was taken by the beautiful simplicity of the vestments which all wore, including Our Holy Father.  I couldn’t help but get the impression that he is true to his name: “Francis”  – “lowly, yet chosen” – with an astounding message of hope and love for a weary world.
As I was leaving the piazza with three other priests on sabbatical, I ran into the Taize Brothers again, Brother Benoit, whom I remembered, and who remembered me, again inviting me to their monastery in France. Who knows when?
And then the repayment of a debt from Father Frank from Chicago, a cappuccino and a pastry, since I had seen to it that he also got be a Communion minister.
Ah yes when in Rome… And so, once again… Blessings and prayers from Rome…

Father Robert Grattaroti
Pastor, St. Joseph, Charlton
On sabbatical in Rome

Students from Assumption and Holy Cross

Angelus and installation surprises

“Since last Wednesday things have been very exciting in Rome – as is to be expected!  The Pope is bringing us new surprises every day.
“Sunday morning I went down to the Vatican for Pope Francis’ first Angelus.  The Pope delivers his Angelus at noon, but when I got there at 10:30, the square was already teeming with people.  I surrendered to the flow of the crowd and wound up pretty close to the center of the square, which was great.  I had never been to an Angelus before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect besides a brief homily from the Pope.  What surprised me was the overwhelming amount of Italian I heard around me – unusually, the square was mostly locals, not tourists.  Before delivering his Angelus, apparently Pope Francis emerged from one of the Vatican gates to shake hands with people outside the square, but there were so many people that I didn’t even realize what was happening until it was over.  It was really nice to be at the Angelus and to listen to the Pope speak.
Once he emerged in his window, the square went wild, but was quickly overcome with this calmness.  Pope Francis spoke in Italian, so I only could grasp a little bit of what he was saying, but people around me were nodding and chuckling when he cracked a joke – it felt like I was at home, at Sunday Mass in my own parish, and that is a wonderful feeling to get from the Holy Father.
Then, this morning, a group of classmates and I attended the installation Mass.  We got up at 4 a.m. to make the trek to the Vatican, and there was already a mob of people when we got there!    When they started letting people into St. Peter’s Square at 6:30, it turned into chaos, with thousands and thousands of people pushing and shoving their way in.  But we all made it in alive, and my classmates and I ended up right on one of the barricades – so when Pope Francis entered a few hours later, he drove right by us and waved.  That was SO cool.  Then began the installation ceremonies and the Mass.
Somehow, as the mob entered the square that morning, ushers managed to pass out programs so we could follow along … though I was even more impressed by how efficiently they distributed Communion to that many people that morning.  Though most of the Mass was in Latin, many other languages were incorporated – readings were done in English and Spanish, petitions were read in Russian, Chinese, even Swahili, and the Gospel was sung in Ancient Greek.  My classmates and I were shocked to hear English when the first reading began (much to the amusement of the Italian family next to us)!    This is a very exciting, really unbelievable time, and I am so grateful to be witnessing it here in Rome!

Megan Whitacre
student at the College of the Holy Cross
studying in Rome

In pursuit of white smoke and new pope    

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be part of something like this. I was at our campus when we saw the white smoke on television. Our chef drove us as close as she could to the Vatican and we ran the rest of the way. The anticipation as we were running, swerving through crowds of people to get there as quick as possible, was unbelievable. To be in St. Peter’s square among all the other hundred thousands of people will be something I will always remember.”

Tracy Baldelli
student at Assumption College’s Rome Campus

Sunday, March 17

Pope Francis’ First Angelus

By Donato Infante

Today, Pope Francis held his first of what will be many weekly Angelus addresses, where he will reflect on the world’s events and the Gospel of the day, then praying with the people present the traditional noontime prayer known as the Angelus. Three of us, all alumni of the Tertio Millenium Seminar in Poland, were with George Weigel who is an analyst of sorts for NBC, so we went to their studio over-looking Saint Peter’s Square to listen. Timothy Cardinal Dolan was there with family and friends as well. On the balcony below us were members of the Chesterton Academy in Minnesota who are here for a conference. When they saw Cardinal Dolan, they sang him Mozart’s “Ave Verum.” It was beautiful. Because we were on the roof of a building, we could see the Square but we could not see that the crowds were so large that they went all the way down the street to the river. I’m glad we went to the roof and not to the Square, as we would not have been able to get in and we would have heard nothing.
Pope Francis had a prepared a text, although he departed from it to tell a story, and he only spoke in Italian. Typically, the address is given first in Italian, and then shorter summaries and greetings are given in Spanish, French, English, German, and other languages on special occasions. The main thrust of his talk was that God never tires of forgiving us. It is we who tire of asking forgiveness from God. I think he said those two things three times. What a beautiful first message to a world thirsting so much for the mercy of God!

Donato Infante III
Seminarian in Rome

Pope Francis’ image today is consistent with his reputation and the man I met. A man of the people. Also, a man of humility and forgiveness. As he told the crowd today in Rome be kind to each other and noted that “people are often harder on each other than God is toward sinners.” As I wrote in my book, the Pope will be a man whose main objective will be forgiveness. Its providential that he would make this profound statement today, the day we pay tribute to St Patrick, a man of peace and forgiveness. Its time to begin a new chapter in the world today. Today,we salute Pope Francis and St. Patrick.

Ray Flynn

Former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican and Mayor of Boston

An experience of the Papal election in Rome

By Mark Rainville
I did not participate in the great excitement and media attention in Rome. There was much speculation to why Pope Benedict retired and who would be the next Pope, mostly by the media which in some cases had a secular-humanistic view of the Church seeing it as but another human institution. Personally, I found it much simpler to take Pope Benedict at his word and then simply trust that the College of Cardinals would discern God’s will and elect a new Pope. With this said, when Tuesday March 12 came I did not go down to St. Peter’s Square. My only desire was that when a new Pope was elected I wanted to attend a Sunday Angelus before I left Rome. Whether or not I was in the square when the Pope was elected did not concern me. Thus, Tuesday passed as a normal day of classes ending at 7 in the evening; one class in the morning and two in the evening.
Wednesday came, and as I have one afternoon class from 3:30 to 5:15 my hope was to visit the square on Thursday as I would miss the smoke that would have come out at 5. I returned from class to the North American College  at about 5:35 a little bit soggy from walking back in the rain. Entering the NAC I inquired what color the smoke was and was told there was none. Next, my brother seminarians said that the smoke would come out at 7. Eucharistic adoration and evening prayer were both moved up to accommodate those who wanted to go into the square at 7. Evening prayer ended at about 6:30 and I pondered whether or not I would go to St. Peter’s. At 6:45 I decided to go and half way there I wondered why it was that I was going tonight instead of tomorrow. The only answer I could come up with is that I had not been to the square yet and that there were people emailing me from the Diocese wondering what the experience was like; I couldn’t answer any of their questions at this point. I continued on my way and reached the outside of the square within a few minutes. I saw a line to get in and, looking through the colonnade, a sea of umbrellas. For a split second my army hatred for lines emerged, then I remembered that there are two things Italians excel at, driving and crowd control; I got in line. It was about five minutes before 7:00 and security closed the barricade behind me just as I entered into the line with about five other people. The line moved quickly and within about two minutes I was in the square with a couple seminarians and a priest that I met in line, all were from the NAC. We ended up toward the back of the square about 70 yards behind the obelisk. We waited about four minutes and then white smoke poured out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel; it was 7:10. I was expecting black smoke.
I can honestly say I was a bit surprised and excited at this point. I knew in about an hour the Pope would emerge on the balcony. Thus, our crew of four began to easily work our way toward the front and center of St. Peter’s. We ended up about 50 yards back from front and center and watched the Swiss Guards march in. Also, after about 40 minutes, the rain stopped. During this time we made small talk and wondered what Cardinal Dolan would say if it was him, something like, “ Send peanut butter please America” we joked . Then at about 8:10 a Cardinal came out and announced the name, Francis. The crowd, which was rather subdued, let out a great cheer.
At this point I wondered about the great gift that the Lord was sharing with me at the present moment. I really had no intention of coming down this evening nor was I that worried if I had missed it but He again led me to the right place at the right time; I could only be thankful. Shortly thereafter Pope Francis emerged to a hail of cheers. He asked that we pray for Him and he gave us a plenary indulgence so said the German lady who was translating for me. Shortly thereafter he went back in and we easily worked our way out of the square and back to the NAC to sing the Te Deum in our chapel.
The celebration began and the night ended for me at about 11:30. I realized that it takes a little time for an experience like that to settle in to a person; it still is as I sit here and with great haste type this.
Rev. Mr. Mark S. Rainville
diocesan seminarian studying in Rome

Saturday, March 16

Just saw the front page cover of an Italian weekly Magazine: “PANORAMA” a beautiful picture of smiling Pope Francis with the headline: “FRATELLO PAPA:” BROTHER POPE….doesn’t that say it all…he beckons, by his very being, to the hear of love…where God is in each of us!

Father Bob Grattaroti

Pastor, St Joseph, Charlton on sabbatical in Rome

Friday, March 15

Wisdom comes with age

By Father Bob Grattaroti
These first few hours and days of Pope Francis’ ministry among us as the Holy Father are simply wonderful. This morning I listened on Vatican Radio to the talk he gave to all the cardinals, including those over 80. His words were momentous, addressing them as “Fratelli” Brothers…and at the end he said in words to this effect: You know many of us are old…but there is a wisdom which comes with age which must be shared with the young…It was the wisdom of the elderly Simeon and Anna in the Temple, who, when they saw Jesus, immediately recognized Him as the Messiah.
What a change in approach. I was graced by the Lord to be here years ago as a student when Pope John XXIII was pontiff. Everyone loved him, he was so fatherly and heartwarming. I cannot help but get that same feeling again, as I am graced by the Lord to be here at this historic time. His spontaneity, his warmth, his openness and humility are striking – as well as his desire to return to simplicity. (He took the bus, instead of riding in the papal car; he paid his own hotel bill, instead of sending someone to do it; he disregarded his prepared texts and became spontaneous…and he is a Jesuit!)
Just a few moments ago I was in the kitchen having a snack with a priest colleague of mine who is also on this sabbatical. He told me that on Tuesday morning he was in St. Peter’s and went to the tomb of  Blessed John XXIII  and prayed, “Dear Blessed John, please ask the Lord to send us a pontiff like you.”  The day following the election he went back to Blessed John’s tomb, and there he saw a fresh rose on the railing in front of the bier. It was this priest’s favorite colored rose, which was not red. This priest was overwhelmed. “Thank-you!” To which I added my thank-you, thank-you, thank-you.
Will be going to the installation Mass on the feast of St. Joseph… more later.

The Legacy of Pope Benedict, Part III

Centrality of the Liturgy

By Donato Infante

Continuing our reflections on the four areas in which Pope Benedict will be remembered for having made a lasting contribution, one must mention the centrality of the liturgy in his pontificate.  Before his election as pope, Benedict had written and spoken about the liturgy, the liturgical reform that had taken place, and had expressed some concerns.  Many of these are most notably recorded in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy.  For example, while still Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, he expressed concern about the practice of applause during the Mass (or immediately after the Mass) for the musicians, as if their work was a concert and not sacred worship directed to God.  He wrote, “Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.”   This was not intended as a ban on all applause (at a wedding, for example, it would seem that the applause is not because of a human achievement but as a sign of approval for what God has done, bringing the couple together) but only that which turned the focus away from God.

He continued, “Liturgy can only attract people when it looks, not at itself, but at God, when it allows him to enter and act. Then something truly unique happens, beyond competition, and people have a sense that more has taken place than a recreational activity.”   Further, according to Pope Benedict, when the liturgy tries to draw people by becoming a recreation activity, for example, through using music that is secular in style or have an overly relaxed feel, while there may be an initial draw, it does not last.  “Such attraction fades quickly – it cannot compete in the market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does various forms of religious titillation.”  That is, after a while, according to Pope Benedict, people realize that Church musicians cannot compete with secular musicians on their level, and the appeal wanes.

With all of this in mind, once being elected to the Chair of Saint Peter, Pope Benedict taught by the way in which he celebrated the Mass, in what can accurately be called noble simplicity.  While some are skeptical that this will draw people to Mass, it is something which many priests have begun to imitate and have found it speaks to their parishioners.  Living here at the North American College, we have a group of recently ordained priests who, having been ordained this past spring, are now back in Rome for one last year of study.  I will let one of them, Father Ryan Connors of the Diocese of Providence, speak for himself:

“Through his teaching and example, Benedict XVI showed us that the priest must fade into the background in the celebration of the liturgy. The gestures, the language, even the vestments demonstrate that the priest is a type, one who holds an office, and the liturgy itself, the work of worshipping God takes center stage. There is nothing more important in the world than the worship of God. The sanctification of God’s people happens principally when God is given due worship….

“In my experience, the people of God respond very well to the celebration of the liturgy according to the mind of the Church. A beautiful celebration of the liturgy, as the Church intends, helps people to believe that Jesus really does become present in the Eucharist. The beauty, the music, the silence, the transcendent language all help us to believe that the work we do in the liturgy matters more than anything else in the world.”

Donato Infante III
Seminarian in Rome


Thursday, March 14

By Father Bob Grattaroti

Just wanted to give you a flavor of our new Holy Father. Today’s (Thursday’s) International Herald Tribune’s headline:  “Conclave Elects Argentine” Subhead: “Pope Francis sought service, not debates”
Then it quotes him when he was Archbishop in Buenos Aires … “In our ecclesiastical region there are priests who don’t baptize children of single mothers because they weren’t conceived in the sanctity of marriage,” he told his priests. “These are today’s hypocrites. Those who clericalize the Church. Those who separate the People of God from salvation. And this poor girl, who rather than returning the child to sender, had the courage to carry it into the world, must wander from parish to parish so that it’s baptized!”
He compared this concept of Catholicism, “this church of ‘come inside’ so we make decisions and announcements between ourselves and those who don’t come, don’t belong,” to the Pharisees of Christ’s time – who congratulate themselves while condemning others.
You can read more by going to the International Herald Tribune.

“The world is alive with excitement. Our Holy Father’s papal motto is “Lowly; But Chosen”… Wow! Cannot help but think of our Blessed Mother’s Magnificat. And Pope Francis went to St. Mary Major this morning to offer prayers to our Blessed Lady; his first official visit as our new Pope.

Father Robert Grattaroti
Pastor, St. Joseph, Charlton
On sabbatical in Rome


Wednesday, March 13

Woman who knows pope says, ‘He is a saint’

By Donato Infante

After evening prayer as a community at 6:15 p.m. (which was 30 minutes earlier to allow us time to get to St. Peter’s Square) we ran for our coats and umbrellas to get down there.  Tonight security checkpoints were in place.  That was not the case last night.  After passing through the checkpoint, I noticed the front of the Square was empty, so a classmate and I moved just a few rows from the front.
We were there when white smoke came out.  The crowd was energetic.  People began shouting in Italian, “Long live the Pope!” (“Viva il Papa!”)  even though we didn’t know his name yet.
About 50 minutes later, Cardinal Tauran came out to inform us who was elected and his name.  When I heard him say the name George in Latin, as he paused to say the last name, I thought to myself, “The only George I can think of is Cardinal Pell in Australia.  Is there another?”  My mind didn’t move fast enough to realize that Jorge was George, but when I heard Bergoglio’s last name, I was ecstatic. Not that I know all the candidates, but I have been impressed with him for these past eight years since I heard of him, and I remember thinking he’d be a fine pope.  When he came to give his blessing and short address, it was clear he is very pious and very down-to-Earth.
He began with a simple, “Brothers and sisters, good evening.”  He ended with, “Good night and good rest.”
I did simultaneous translation for some Texans who were here on vacation and it just happened to coincide.  It was striking that Pope Francis spent so much time emphasizing that he is the new Bishop of Rome.  Will ministering to the people of Rome be a central focus for him in a way it has not always been for previous popes?  I got that impression.          On the way out, the crowd was pushed together and I was shoved into a Hispanic religious sister.  I asked, “What do you think of this?”  She said, “I am thrilled.  He is so kind.”  I said, “I am happy, too.  I love that he lives a life of simplicity.”
Hearing from my accent that I am obviously not from Latin America she said, “You know him?”  I said, “I’ve read about him before.”  She said, “I know him. He’s a saint.”

Donato Infante III
Seminarian in Rome


Watching and learning

From left, Christine Song, Dae Hwan Kim, Adam DeSimone, and Rob Foisy work on a project about selection of the pope.

St. Peter Marian students, from left, Christine Song, Dae Hwan Kim, Adam DeSimone, and Rob Foisy work on a project about selection of the pope.

At St. Peter-Marian Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School

Instructor Bill Driscoll  broke up his sophomore and junior theology classes into six groups.    “I challenged my students to complete group research projects to share with the class,” he said. ”Each group of four was assigned a different topic relevant to the election and report their findings in a 20 minute presentation. The assignment was to combine media, technology and traditional research to learn about the process and the Cardinals.     “Topics included Pope Benedict, American Cardinals, Global Cardinals, Sistine Chapel, & Vatican City. Another group was to act as the press corps to ask questions of the groups and fact check the presentations.     “The whole school is on pope watch. “We check the internet to see if the smoke is black or white,”  Denise Allain, principal, said early Wednesday.

At St. Stephen Elementary School in Worcester

Laurie Murphy, principal of St. Stephen Elementary School in Worcester, said that ever since Pope Benedict XVI resigned, students there have been learning about the whole process. They have up-to-the-minute live streams in their classrooms and are having discussions, doing research and writing papers.    “This kind of connects with our school mission,” she said. “Christ is the reason for our school, just as the pope is the representative of Christ on earth.” She said they are trying to impress on the students this connection and the fact that they are living history.

At Assumption College in Rome    

We did attend Pope Benedict’s last general audience together (a moving moment, he was much more personal than I expected him to be) and we’re planning on being at St. Peter’s tonight at 7 p.m.     The students are very excited, well aware that we’re in Rome at a historic moment. For me, personally, it is actually the second conclave: I taught at the Pontifical Lateran University before coming to Assumption in 2008 and lived in Rome for more than 8 yrs. I was in St. Peter’s Square in 2005 when Pope Benedict gave his first blessing “Urbi et Orbi.”

Prof. Christian Gobel,
Dept. of Philosophy, Assumption College


At St. Thomas Aquinas School, Warren 

“Whenever something important is going on, we watch and pray.” (Students watch EWTN’s live feed.)     “We watched Pope Benedict leave the apostolic palace Feb. 28 and we prayed for him then.”    “We have a rosary procession every first Friday so we actually prayed for him and the conclave.”    Today (March 12) each student lit a votive candle in front of the statue of St. Joseph in St. Thomas Aquinas Church. (March is the month of St. Joseph and he’s patron of the universal Church.) Students prayed the cardinals in the conclave would be attentive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in choosing a new pope and prayed for the new pope.    They will probably do something when pope is elected.

Steven Rust
principal, St. Thomas Aquinas School, Warren

Remembering Pope Benedict XVI

“I’m grateful to God for the gift of our loving Papa, Pope Benedict XVI. His holy daring and traveling to England, despite hostilities and threats, and opening the way to the heart of the Church by establishing an Anglican Ordinariate, was remarkable. I am most grateful for the reform of the liturgy and the establishment of a greater reverence for the holy Eucharist.”

Alice Bernard, member of St. Paul Cathedral Parish, Worcester  

“Pope Benedict was a smart man. I like that he let us have the Latin Mass again, the Year of Faith.”

Thomas Bernard, a seventh-grader at St. Thomas Aquinas School in Warren

Awesome signs of good things to come

By Father Bob Grattaroti
from St. Peter’s Square

It was most exciting and quite a spiritual experience, amidst the uproar and the awesome silence in the crowd, when new Pope Francis asked his people to bless him and pray for him.
I got to the square at 5.45 p.m., (Rome time) expecting a first burning of the ballots at 6 p.m. What struck me as I first entered the square was that we had to go through the monitors (didn’t have to do that yesterday). I immediately felt – this is it.
Then I met a reporter from Orange California who indicated that the installation would be on the feast of St. Joseph, March 19 – and so it happened.
We waited and waited and finally, after a couple of hours, brilliant white smoke followed by the tolling of the bells. This is it!
And then he was presented. Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who takes the name Francis.
A Jesuit – name of Francis – gave up his car and chauffer and took public transportation to work – asked for a blessing from his people – deeply concerned for the poor.
Wow! These are awesome signs of good things to come.

Joan, from Dublin, whom I met while waiting, told me that she wanted to be here for this so she booked a flight  and arrived yesterday and had been in the Square since 10:00 a.m. Elvira, a native of Poland, now living permanently in Rome, goes to daily Mass in St. Peter’s and was here with her husband, waiting and praying as we chatted for an hour or so. There was a group of American Students from Catholic University studying in Rome, who were so excited about this marvelous event, they were beside themselves…
And so, the awesome mystery of Church continues … even to this day … until the day of Glory.
Greetings to all … and as we all screamed out over and over again: VIVA IL PAPA!!!
Father Robert Grattaroti
Pastor, St. Joseph, Charlton
On sabbatical in Rome


The Legacy of Pope Benedict, Part II

Pope Benedict and the ecumenical movement

By Donato Infante

The second aspect of Pope Benedict’s papacy that I believe will be remembered as one of his lasting contributions to the Church is a proper understanding of ecumenism.  Some online commentators have named him the Pope of Christian Unity, and while that strikes me as a little strong, it certainly has some grounding in fact.
After the Second Vatican Council, which Pope Benedict attended as a theological expert, many people thought that goal was no longer to bring all Christians together again into one Church. As Scripture scholar and Catholic convert Scott Hahn says of his own experience of converting, “One [priest] actually said, ‘Are you thinking of converting? No, you don’t want to do that. Ever since Vatican II we discourage that. The best thing you can do for the Church is just be a good Presbyterian minister.’ … I said, ‘I’m not asking you to break my arm and force me in. I think God is calling me.’ He said, ‘Well, if you want help from me, you’ve come to the wrong man’”  (“The Scott Hahn Conversion Story” is available from St. Joseph Communications).
Others were opposed to the form of dialogue which was taking place, seeing the older method of apologetics as sufficient. These people say that ecumenism condemns itself by its very principles, or more strongly, that ecumenism a heresy.  Such views can easily be found online.
Pope Benedict knew that these two extremes were not right.  The Church would continue her new form of dialogue but would see dialogue as leading to an eventual return to all being in communion again.  This is readily seen in his outreach to members of the Society of Saint Pius X, who reject some of the reforms instituted either at the Second Vatican Council or soon thereafter. Pope Benedict lifted the excommunications on the bishops who belong to the group.  This gesture of kindness was overshadowed by the realization after the fact that one of the members denied the historicity of the Holocaust and had some other views that, at the very least, one would describe as unusual.  After the Holy See’s acknowledging that these views were unacceptable and the statement from the other members of the Society that this bishop in question was not representative of the group as a whole, Pope Benedict tasked a team to work out a doctrinal agreement with the other bishops.  This dialogue continues, since no agreement has been reached.  However, the act is one that teaches us what true ecumenism looks like.
More significant was the creation of the Anglican Ordinariate for former Anglicans who desire to become Catholic and maintain what is best in the Anglican tradition: their great liturgical-musical patrimony.  By creating a structure where these communities have a canonical existence in the Church like a diocese (led by either a bishop or priest who has some juridical authority like that of a bishop) and allowing them to ordain new clergy, Pope Benedict opened wide the doors to a whole host of people interested in the Church. This would allow both a unity of faith and belief but also a legitimate diversity of expression.
He taught the world that those particular forms which have been developed by Christians over the age and are legitimate expressions of the faith are welcome in the Church and do not have to be uniform, but at the same time that the Church cannot compromise on doctrine, since it is revealed by Jesus Christ and not made up by the Church.  Not an insignificant lesson about what the Second Vatican Council meant ecumenism to look like from a man who was there.

‘Now we sit and wait’

Tuesday, March 12

With Msgr. Francis D. Kelly in Rome

Msgr. Kelly, told The Catholic Free Press this evening that he was present this morning for the opening Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica and all 115 cardinals concelebrated.    “I was struck by the atmosphere of prayerfulness, serenity and peace throughout the whole Mass. It was beautiful, peaceful, serene.
“I was looking at some of the people whose names have surfaced as possibilities as they walked by me – the rest of us are excited and nervous – but they were peaceful.”
“Cardinal (Angelo) Sodano gave a beautiful, spiritual homily, in all, it was a great start for the conclave,” he said.
There are 60 American priests staying at the Casa Santa Maria, the house that Msgr. Kelley still runs, and most went down to St. Peter’s Square tonight, even though they knew there would not be a pope elected. “It is rainy, miserable and cold. But there were thousands of people in the Square.
“Now we just sit and wait,” Msgr. Kelley said.
Msgr. Kelley did not think it would be a quick vote.  The cardinals will vote Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (twice each day). “If there is no decision by Friday, then Saturday is a mandatory day of prayer discussion, and reflection. They go back to voting on Sunday,” he explained.
“We have the Rome Marathon next Sunday (March 17) with 20,000 runners and the whole inner-city is shut down.” He said that marathon organizers have told Church officials that if a new pope is elected in time to be installed on Sunday, that they would delay the start of the marathon until 5 o’clock in afternoon.
There is something of a time constraint because the next day for installation would be Tuesday, the feast of St Joseph and that is a national holiday in Italy; and the Sunday after that is Palm Sunday, Msgr. Kelley explained.
The person who has clearly captivated the Italian media is Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, he said. “Just the image of the barefoot, sandaled cardinal is so much out of their norm” that he has captured their imagination.
(Msgr. Kelley was being interviewed by Lisa Hughes of Boston’s Channel 4 news on the day it was announced that an opening date for the conclave had been set. He was told that a segment of their interview will be aired on the 5 o’clock news tomorrow, Wednesday, March 13.)
Msgr. Francis D. Kelly is canon of St. Peter’s Basilica and superior, Casa Santa Maria, Rome

Father Bob Grattaroti (right) and Donato Infante (left) in Saint Peter's Square, moments after black smoke indicated that no one was elected on the first ballot. March 12, 2013.  Photo by Rev. Mr. John Connaughton

Father Bob Grattaroti (right) and Donato Infante (left) in Saint Peter’s Square, moments after black smoke indicated that no one was elected on the first ballot. March 12, 2013. Photo by Rev. Mr. John Connaughton

Waiting in the Square

By Father Bob Grattaroti

As you know, the smoke was pitch black. (I guess those chemicals really work.) We got to (St Peter’s) Square at 6:30 and waited for almost an hour and a half. Just as the smoke issued forth from the chimney, I bumped into Donato and he took some pictures which he will be sending along.
The Square, I would say, was about 80 percent filled and there were loads of young people – from late teenagers to people in their 20s, 30s and 40s. From what I observed, they seemed to outnumber us “older” folks.
I ran into two students from the Rome branch of the Rhode Island School of Design, both of whom were Catholic and asked where they might find Mass in English and I indicated the Church of Santa Susanna, the American church in Rome. Then I was briefly interviewed by a radio reporter from Germany, who spoke perfect English, asking me to give him a name – so I said: HOLY SPIRIT.
We will eventually find out.
Until tomorrow…

Father Robert Grattaroti
Pastor, St. Joseph, Charlton
On sabbatical in Rome


American cardinals prepare to leave the North American College to celebrate Mass at Saint Peter's and begin the conclave.  March 12, 2013. Photo courtesy of Donato Infante.

American cardinals prepare to leave the North American College to celebrate Mass at Saint Peter’s and begin the conclave. March 12, 2013. Photo courtesy of Donato Infante.

Inspiring Liturgy

By Father Bob Grattaroti

About 300 or so seminarians, priests and sisters along with the North American College staff were on hand at 7:20 this morning to bid prayerful farewell to our American cardinals who were bussed to St. Peter’s for the 10 a.m. Mass for the Election of a Pope.
We were all there also, and I was lucky enough to get the first seat one row behind several diplomats, and happened to be seated next to five Brothers of the Taize Ecumenical Community in France. It was a great occasion for me to use my French as I met Brother Benoit seated next to me.  We were very close to the cardinals whom I could almost touch as they processed to their assigned places not to far from where we were seated.
The rosary was prayed about 20 minutes before the Mass began, and the opening hymn, Psalm 27 was sung: “The Lord is the strength of his people, a saving refuge for the one he has anointed. Save your people, Lord…” as the 15-minute long procession filed into place.
The first reading for the day was taken from the prophet Isaiah, the very words Jesus spoke: “The spirit of the Lord has anointed me … to bring good news to the poor … ” and was proclaimed in English by an American first year seminarian from the North American College, Tony Hollowell.
Most, if not all, the cardinals were at the Mass, including those over age 80 who cannot go into the conclave.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals and over the age to be eligible to vote,  was the main celebrant and referred in his homily to the readings, especially the Gospel of John in Chapter 15 – “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you….this is my command…love one another…remember, you did not chose me, but I have chosen you…to bear fruit that will last.”
He said that the pope must first and foremost be a man of love,  in imitation of our Lord, and he spoke well of the popes of the preceding years who left a great legacy of well-being for all of humanity. When he mentioned Pope Benedict XVI, the congregation broke out in spontaneous applause.
It was a most inspiring Liturgy, so filled with hope and love.
Tonight, we run down to St. Peter’s for the first puffs of smoke at 7 p.m.


“Clap Out” for Cardinals

Worcester Seminarian Donato Infante (center) stands with two of his classmates, Fernando Camou of the Diocese of Pheonix (left) and Geoffrey Brooke of the Diocese of Jefferson City (right).  Visible in the balcony is the red curtain used during conclaves.  March 12, 2013.Photo courtesy of Donato Infante.

Worcester Seminarian Donato Infante (center) stands with two of his classmates, Fernando Camou of the Diocese of Pheonix (left) and Geoffrey Brooke of the Diocese of Jefferson City (right). Visible in the balcony is the red curtain used during conclaves. March 12, 2013.Photo courtesy of Donato Infante.

By Donato Infante

At the North American College, we have a tradition.  When new seminarians arrive for the first time together as a class, the bells are rung as they process into the chapel, telling all of Rome that new men have begun their time here at North American College.  The faculty and upperclassmen applaud as they process in, and this is known as the clap-in.  When men are leaving after their studies to return home, the bells ring again and everyone applauds, once more telling all of Rome that a man is going home to serve the people of God as priests.  This is the clap-out.

Today, at 7:20 a.m., the college community gathered outside to “clap out” the American cardinals as they left for Mass and to fulfill the sacred duty of selecting a new pope.  Who knows?  Maybe one of them won’t be coming back as a cardinal.

 Exciting atmosphere

By Michael Trachy

I was at the Vatican earlier today.  It is a very exciting atmosphere with crowds of people and media gathered all throughout St. Peter’s Square anticipating the start of the Conclave.  I can’t wait to see it all unfold over the next few days!

Michael Trachy is a student at the College of the Holy Cross
studying in Rome



Praying for the Cardinals

Monday, March 11

By Father Bob Grattaroti

We are beginning a week of retreat this week. Tomorrow at 7:30 am we will be on hand to “pray” the American Cardinals off to the Vatican as they leave from the North American College for the Mass in St. Peter’s for the Election of a Pope (to which we will be going).
Today we heard from our Retreat Director, Father James Quigley, a Domincan from Providence College, a quote in similar words to these: “These are topsy turvy times in the church.  There has never been such disorder and scandals as we have seen in our age.” That Cardinal was Hugh of St. Cher, the first Dominican cardinal in the 1200’s!!!!   So, there is really nothing new under the sun.
Trust that all is well.

Peace and Love

Father Robert Grattaroti
Pastor, St. Joseph, Charlton
On sabbatical in Rome


The Legacy of Pope Benedict, Part I

By Donato Infante

There are certain events, moments, or decisions that go down in history as defining a pontificate.  For example, when people think of Pope Leo XIII, what comes to mind is the publication of Rerum Novarum, an encyclical that established Catholic social doctrine as a branch of theology in many ways moved the papacy away from the old model that had existed during the time of the Papal States to what we are familiar with now, the papacy as the world’s conscience.  He is also known for inaugurating the great renaissance in the philosophy and theology of Saint Thomas Aquinas.  Blessed John XXIII is remembered for having called the Second Vatican Council.  Venerable Pope Paul VI is known for the publication of the controversial encyclical Humanae Vitae, upholding the Church’st2,000-year-old teaching on the sinfulness of using artificial contraception and the immortality of abortion.

A picture of the late pope Blessed John Paul II is seen on a rosary case at a souvenir stall near St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 10. A group of 115 cardinals is expected to enter the Sistine Chapel March 12 for the conclave to elect the next pope. (CNS photo/Eric Gaillard, Reuters)

A picture of the late pope Blessed John Paul II is seen on a rosary case at a souvenir stall near St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 10. A group of 115 cardinals is expected to enter the Sistine Chapel March 12 for the conclave to elect the next pope. (CNS photo/Eric Gaillard, Reuters)

The pontificate of Blessed John Paul II is still very close in memory, and so many such happenings come to mind.  As time goes on, some of these will probably seem less significant than others, but now, eight years after his death, people associate with him the fall of communism, the reform of seminary life with the publication of Pastores Dabo Vobis, many world travels, the creation of World Youth Day, and his final witness that life, even amidst great suffering, is worth living.

What will the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI be?  Over the next few days, while we wait for the start of the conclave and the election of the new pope, I will be writing about the four things that come to mind which seem to me the main contributions that Pope Benedict made during his pontificate and for which he will be remembered in history. The first of these is that Pope Benedict became a leader in handling the sexual abuse crisis.    The leader of the Catholic Church acknowledged the horrendous acts that had been committed by priests and personally met with victims on his international trips in the United States, Malta, Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom.  He spoke publicly, saying that, “The greatest persecution of the church doesn’t come from enemies on the outside but is born from the sins within the church.”  Also, “The church needs to profoundly relearn penitence, [and] accept purification…” Regarding the cases in Ireland he wrote a pastoral letter to the Catholics of that country speaking of the matter, and during his pontificate a clarification came out on how to implement the norms that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office which he ran prior to becoming pope, had in place regarding sexual abuse allegations.  There do remain those dissatisfied with Pope Benedict in this area, but many victims have praised him for what he has done.  I believe time will show his work in this area to be one of the great contributions to the Church.

Donato Infante III
Seminarian in Rome



An Encounter with Cardinal Ratzinger

Msgr. Anthony S. Czarnecki, pastor of St. Joseph Basilica in Webster,
recalls an interesting encounter with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI

“I always remember going with one priest in Rome looking for a restaurant,” he says. Upon finding one, he asked the owner if the food was good. Perturbed that he would ask such a question, the owner merely responded, “Come and see” and took them to one of the small rooms typical of restaurants in Rome.
There was Cardinal Ratzinger eating with another clergyman. It was as if the owner was telling them, “If my place is good enough for the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it’s good enough for you.”
The cardinal noticed Msgr. Czarnecki, who had been to his office to see friends who worked there.
“Since he noticed me, I didn’t want to disappear,” Msgr. Czarnecki says. So he went over and shook the cardinal’s hand.
As for the restaurant and the food?
“We stayed, and it was good.”


Cardinal Sean O’Malley shares his Sunday homily

Sunday, March 10 – Laetare Sunday

By Cardinal Sean O’Malley

Tweeted (@CardinalSean) his English remarks from Sunday’s homily:

This Sunday is also special because today we prepare for the conclave that begins on Tuesday.  The Catholic world is united in prayer, filled with confidence that comes from our faith.  Jesus has promised to be with us always, and to give us the Holy Spirit to guide us toward the Father’s house, where our loving God awaits us.  The gift of the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and the newly born Church on Pentecost, after nine days of intense prayer in the company of Mary, the Queen of the Apostles and Mother of the Church.  Let us pray that the Holy Spirit illumines the Church to choose a new Pope who will confirm us in our faith and make more visible the love of the Good Shepherd.

English Translation of Homily in Italian given by Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap.Archbishop of Boston at the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria
Extemporaneous Remarks at the Beginning of His Homily

Dear brothers and sisters –
Thank you for your presence here to pray with Catholics throughout the world for our Church in these days of such important for us.
When I took possession of this beautiful Church I said to the Carmelite Fathers, jokingly, that I thought I could bring the Statue of Saint Teresa made by Bernini back home to Boston.
They answered that Napolean already tried that!  But it seems that they have forgiven me because the General Superior hasn’t requested a different Cardinal to be assigned here!
In this beautiful, Cardinatial titular Church, I want to assure you that after the Conclave I will be back as your Cardinal and probably I will try to take the St. Teresa statue back to Boston (joking)!

Homily for Fourth Sunday of Lent – Laetare Sunday

God is a good and merciful father unlike any other.  He is a father who receives us with open arms every time we return to him.  This is the meaning of the parable that is presented to us today.  It touches at the very heart of our Lenten journey.
The words of Jesus are very clear:  the Father is happier over one sheep who returns than for the ninety-nine who were never lost.  Even before today’s parable, we hear Jesus speaking about the lost sheep and the lost coins.  These two brief parables also conclude with the joy over a sinner who is found.
On this Laetare Sunday of Lent, there could not be a better parable than that of the merciful father and the prodigal son.  In fact the parable concludes with the words: we have to throw a party and rejoice because your brother was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and he has been found.  A moment of joy!

Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley  celebrates mass in S. maria della Vittoria Church in Rome, Sundy, March, 10, 2013. (Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley celebrates Mass in S. Maria della Vittoria Church in Rome, Sunday, March, 10, 2013. (Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

One of the things that scandalized the Jews is Jesus’ familiarity with sinners.  The Pharisees and Scribes find themselves in crisis before this messiah, who was not how they expected him to be.  Even the God of Jesus is not the one who they thought they knew.
Of the three protagonists in the parable, let us begin to consider the so-called “prodigal son”, the one who leaves home after asking for his part of the inheritance.  The parable is about a son who wants to live his life without the father, without God.  But for that son, distance becomes the reason that he recognizes his own solitude and poverty, and so he returns by retracing his steps.  Now he is looking not for autonomy, but for a welcome into his father’s house.
God always remains near to those who seek him.  As the Psalm says:  the Lord is near to the brokenhearted!  The prodigal son wants to use the gifts of God just for himself.  Leaving home is equivalent to denying the spiritual reality to which he pertains, trying to make his own life.  One can leave the Father’s house, the Church, for many motives: for ignorance, for lack of acceptance, for negative experiences and scandals, or for spiritual mediocrity.
Often when we consider ourselves to be in communion with the Church, we can live our lives as if we were outside of the Church.  The consequence of this is a disordered life.  From wanting to have everything, we end up begging.  From being the son, we end taking care of the pigs.  The prodigal son asks for his share of the patrimony as if everything that he is and everything that he has he didn’t owe to his family.  But life soon presents him with a cost.  He does not act responsibly, he has wasted everything, and he ends up fighting for the scraps that were fed to the pigs.
His returning home first of all appears a realistic realization of what he has lost.  He will present himself to his father humbly, as someone who has been defeated, showing that he understands that it’s possible to be free, even in one’s own family.  He is preparing himself to declare his repentance:  I have sinned against heaven and against you.  Like a young man who is waiting in line at the confessional, practicing what he’s going to say to the priest.  The prodigal son walks slowly towards home, as human repentance is often slow.  The father, who represents Divine compassion, runs swiftly.  “When he was still a far way off, his father saw him, had compassion, and he ran to meet.  He threw his arms around his neck and kissed him.”
The father appears generous and meek.  Even too indulgent.  He gave his son what he had asked for, he respected his freedom, he lets him leave.  But as soon as he sees him reappear, he doesn’t even let him speak, he simply embraces him with open arms:  he had waited every day for his return.  For this reason he organizes a great party for him, which caused a reaction in the older brother.  But the father, even with the second son, shows himself to be loving and indulgent.  He justifies his action and asks for understanding:  Your brother was dead, and has come to life.  What great love, what great paternity in these words and in how he treats the older son.
The father shows mercy to the prodigal son and teaches mercy to his brother.  We find ourselves before a father who surprises us with his goodness, a father great in his weakness, who loves us beyond all common sense.  The Scribes and Pharisees in this parable are confronted with a surprising and merciful God.  A father who doesn’t complicate the life of a son who returns, just as Jesus receives and forgives those he finds at meals, those who have distanced themselves from God and have gambled their lives.
Lent is the right moment to return to God through the sacrament of reconciliation, permitting the Father of all, who is always waiting for the return of the one who is lost, to “throw a party”.
Likewise the Christian community in this season of Lent should show a Gospel welcome to those who have strayed, showing the same merciful zeal of the father in the parable.  Without making life difficult for those who have left home, we should welcome those who ask to return after their fifteen minutes of freedom, because often it’s the negative experiences that give a new value to a greater maturity, and often it’s achieved through suffering.
Every person is a seeker of God and of happiness, but at times we seek Him where He is not.  The Church reminds us continuously that it is only in God that the thirst of the human heart can be satisfied.
Lent is an invitation to make a new start, to return to our family, and so experience the joy of being at home.  Our God came to the world to seek his prodigal sons and daughter.  We are the cause of his joy!

This Sunday is also special because today we prepare for the conclave that begins on Tuesday.  The Catholic world is united in prayer, filled with confidence that comes from our faith.  Jesus has promised to be with us always, and to give us the Holy Spirit to guide us toward the Father’s house, where our loving God awaits us.  The gift of the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and the newly born Church on Pentecost, after nine days of intense prayer in the company of Mary, the Queen of the Apostles and Mother of the Church.  Let us pray that the Holy Spirit illumines the Church to choose a new Pope who will confirm us in our faith and make more visible the love of the Good Shepherd.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap.
Archbishop of Boston



Conclave begins Tuesday

Friday, March 8

By Father Bob Grattaroti

Yes, the conclave begins this Tuesday. There is a Mass at St. Peter’s at 10:00 am, then the Cardinals process into the Sistine Chapel for the consistory. I believe there will be at least one ballot taken in the afternoon on that day.

It is, of course only the Holy Spirit who knows who it will be, but in the course of human events, there is still much speculation. Heard this morning that it is between Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Cardinal Angelo Scola. Cardinal Ouellet, in some fashion , is being considered an “American,” as he comes from North America.

Calendars featuring images of Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI are seen for sale in Rome near the Vatican March 9. The conclave for the election of a new pope begins March 12. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Calendars featuring images of Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI are seen for sale in Rome near the Vatican March 9. The conclave for the election of a new pope begins March 12. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

At the coffee shop where I had a cappuccino this morning, the waiter said he was hoping the new pope would have an outgoing personality and was open to the world and could capture the attention of all the people for God. Again it is anyone’s guess.

I met two reporters from WBZ radio in Boston at the Munich airport when I arrived there on Thursday. As it turns out, one of them had a seat next to mine on our flight to Rome. In our mid-air conversation it turns out that I performed the marriage of one of his cousins, Kelly Harvey who married Justin Starkus a few years ago, and he was at the wedding.

Well, when we got to Rome he interviewed me, asking my thoughts, and it was aired on the morning show on Friday. I then got an email from Billy Yukatonis, formerly of Charlton, who heard the broadcast as he was driving his wife to work. You know, it is after all a small world..

Then I spoke with one of the Venerini SIsters here in Rome.  I am in the process, and actually, have just finished, translating a wonderful book on the life of Rosa Venerini, their foundress, from Italian into English. This nun, Sister Piera, is setting up a meeting for me with the author of the book, along with their Mother General. There are many Venerini SIsters in English-speaking India, along with the Americans, who are eager to read it.  It is a remarkable story about a remarkable woman who was a couple of centuries ahead of her time.  It is now in the final stages and I hope to finalize it and edit it while I am here. Then the American Superior, Sister Hilda Ponte, will finalize the work and have it published.

My best to all back home. It is great to be here. Just came back from a holy hour in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel inside St. Peter’s. Many, many people there, and of course, paid my respects at the tombs of Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII.

Saturday, March 9

I will be concelebrating Mass with Msgr. Francis Kelley tomorrow, Laetare Sunday, at St. Peter’s Basilica at the altar of the Chair. My Mass intention is for the people of St. Joseph’s. All the cardinals are saying Mass tomorrow in their various titular churches for the conclave. I was invited to be with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (retired archbishop of Washington) at his church of Sts. Nereus and Achilles (two Roman soldiers who were martyred because they embraced Christianity), or to Washington Cardinal Donald Weurl’s church of St Peter in Chains. But I chose to go to St Peter’s Basilica for my first public Mass here. (Other ones so far have been in our chapel.)

At this point it is anyone’s guess who will be pope, but some of the word I hear is that they expect to have WHITE smoke by or on Thursday of this week. How exciting! O Yes, there is a GOD and a loving Holy Spirit who guides the Church.

Father Robert Grattaroti

Pastor, St. Joseph, Charlton
On sabbatical in Rome

A sad good-bye

By Donato Infante

It seems fitting that I briefly introduce myself to readers.  My name is Donato Infante, and I grew up as a parishioner of Saint Anne’s Parish in Southborough.  I graduated college in 2009 and entered the seminary for the diocese.  I spent two years studying philosophy at St. John’s Seminary in Boston and then was invited by Bishop McManus to study theology in Rome.  I am in my second year here, living at the Pontifical North American College, home to over 250 seminarians studying theology here in Rome.  I attend class at the Pontifical Gregorian University, founded by Saint Ignatius Loyola and run by the Jesuits.

When the North American College was founded by Blessed Pope Pius IX over 150 years ago, part of his desire was to invite Americans studying to be priests to experience the great blessings that an education in Rome has to offer.  To be near the tombs of the earliest saints and martyrs, in particular to be near the tomb of Saint Peter, is an education all by itself.  With it comes the realization that discipleship is not always easy, and that like Christ was faithful to the Father even to the point of death, we, too, must be faithful even to the point of death if so called.

 Donato Infante attends Pope Benedict XVI’s last Angelus in a photo taken by Alec Scott, a seminarian from the Archdiocese of Washington and a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross. The Pope is visible in his window.

Donato Infante attends Pope Benedict XVI’s last Angelus in a photo taken by Alec Scott, a seminarian from the Archdiocese of Washington and a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross. The Pope is visible in his window.

Another blessing, though, is to be near the successor of Saint Peter, and for this past year and half, except on a few occasions, I have walked every Sunday to Saint Peter’s Square to hear Pope Benedict teach about that day’s Gospel.  I have been there as he has expressed words of consolation and offered prayers for victims of terrible events, such as natural disasters or the violence that took place this past December in Newtown, Connecticut.  What has always struck me is his loving concern for the whole world.  One can hear in his voice that these are not empty words.  He is truly praying for these victims, saddened by the events, and wants what is best for every person of this world.

Thus, it was with much sadness that I heard the news that this great man was stepping down from his office for the good of the Church, so that a man with more energy could lead.  I have tried to make the most of these last few weeks, listening even more attentively to his final remarks to the world on Sundays at his Angelus addresses.  I was there for his last public Wednesday audience, thinking, “I know you have prayed about this, and if you say this is what is best, I trust you, but I wish you were staying.”  On the day when a helicopter took him to Castel Gandolfo for him to begin his retirement, I rushed home from class and quickly made my way to the sixth floor roof.  I arrived with seconds (literally) to spare and waved goodbye with my peers as he flew overhead.  I hope he knows how much we miss him already, and that the love he has shown us in all his talks is reciprocated.

Over the coming days and weeks, I look forward to sharing with all of you more thoughts as events unfold.

Donato Infante III
Seminarian in Rome

Counting Popes

By Father Paul Tougas

With the surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI I quickly decided to count up how many popes I have known and lived under.

I realized with the next pope, the number would be eight.

So counting backwards it would be Benedict XVI, John Paul II, John Paul I, Paul VI, John XXIII, Pius XII and Pius XI.

Father Pauk Tougas, pastor St. Mary of the Hills, Boylston

Father Tougas, pastor St. Mary of the Hills, Boylston

I soon was urging parishioners to count their popes as well as the children in religious education classes. Even a 9-year-old child has lived with two popes and is approaching their third with the election of a new pontiff.

I then decided to check out the lineage of my ordination. Catholicism is “one holy Catholic and apostolic.” Apostolic means the power of the sacrament of Holy Orders goes back to the apostles and every ordination can be traced.

I was ordained a priest by Bishop Bernard Flanagan, Bishop of Worcester. He was consecrated Bishop of Norwich by Edward Ryan, Bishop of Burlington, Vermont. Ryan was consecrated by Cardinal Richard Cushing of Boston who in turn was consecrated by William Cardinal O’Connell, Archbishop of Boston. O’Connell received Episcopal Consecration from Francesco Satolli, who was the first Apostolic Delegate to the United States. Satolli was consecrated by Cardinal Raffaela LaValetta Monaco, who was ordained bishop by Blessed Pope Pius IX.

So I was delighted that my line of ordination went back to a blessed no less. Blessed Pius IX (Pio Nono as they called him). I continued to track until I came to a pope. This too is the lineage of anyone ordained by Bishop Flanagan.

A little history: Pio Nono declared the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, called the First Vatican Council which proclaimed papal infallibility, and declared himself a “Prisoner of the Vatican” when he lost the papal states to the unification of Italy. He was the longest reigning pope in history, reigning 32 years. He had an eventful time as pope.

Father Paul J. Tougas
Pastor, St. Mary of the Hills, Boylston