FRIDAY NIGHT (HIGH)LIGHTS
It has been an interesting week in many ways. I did not get to Miami to visit with the college seminarians as planned as the death and funeral of Monsignor Trainor and other local concerns kept me home. Father Plazewski, our Vocation Director, and I will be visiting the collegians in late March, however.
This blog is being read by an increasing number of people (a.k.a. “hits”) and apparently is also being read by the Catholic News Service as well. My blog entry from a week ago about the meeting of the Catholic Health Association made it into national news a few days ago. In that entry I reaffirmed that the passage of FOCA (in any form) would be fiercely fought by CHA and lots of others and in what I hope is the unlikely event it would pass, we would not allow it to cause our Catholic hospitals and their employees to violate either the Ethical and Religious Directives of Catholic Health Care Institutions or their private consciences. I also noted that it should not be assumed that the passage of FOCA would force the closing of Catholic Hospitals. The fact that a FOCA law would not close our hospitals should not, however, be interpreted to mean that it would have no effect whatsoever on Catholic health care. It could. But it won’t because we will resist and, if needs be, defy. All of this is still quite speculative since no FOCA legislation has yet been introduced in this Congress. If and when it is, we are strongly in the fight – in this diocese and throughout the country.
I confirmed two nights this week in the same parish, St. Stephen’s in Valrico. The combined number of confirmandi in this parish this week was just under 200 and for me this Spring that is the largest number I will confirm in this diocese. Tomorrow (Saturday) I will confirm about 140 at Nativity, Brandon. And if you are interested, the third place goes to St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Spring Hill. But it is more than a “numbers” game and for me the most important thing is how well these young women and men are prepared to receive the sacrament. I can attest to the seriousness with which the eighth-graders at St. Stephens had been trained and were prepared. Again, it was a wonderful experience and I think the adults present also experienced a sacramental moment in the Church at its best.
A group of about thirty-five priests from Boston made their annual retreat at Bethany this week. A wonderful colleague of mine, Bishop Arthur Serritelli of Paterson led the men in their retreat. The bishop is a Scripture scholar and is currently the head of the USCCB Committee on Liturgy (a thankless task in today’s Church). I had dinner with the priests and they were so very complimentary not just of Bethany which took their breath away but also of our Eucharistic initiative and the pastoral and the many good things they saw happening here. Many arrived on Sunday in time to experience Mass in one or more of our parishes. Boston has been at the epicenter of the sexual abuse crisis and it is also my father’s home and the home to the seminary where I was trained. For me it was a personal delight to give something back to the great priests of the Boston archdiocese. They are coming next year for two weeks, not just one.
Monsignor Trainor’s funeral this morning reminded me of the amazing unity of the priesthood, even in these challenging times and moments. As often happens when a senior priest dies, priests from the Venice, Orlando, St. Augustine and Miami archdiocese often come to say farewell to a brother with whom they once served. It gladdens my heart that this loyalty remains.
Saturday holds wonderful promise – a large confirmation in the morning at Nativity, Brandon, and the dedication of the new Church at St. Anne’s, Ruskin. More on both tomorrow.