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The Permanent Diaconate

Can you hear me now?

People have asked me how did I come to be a deacon? Being a deacon is a vocation — a call from God. Becoming a deacon has been an amazing journey. As we all know, hindsight is 20/20. As I look back, I really can see how the Lord has prepared me to serve His people as a deacon. And this goes way back, almost 50 years. 

That was when I met my wife-to-be,Carol. The seed to learn and grow in my faith started to grow. …

Sharing each other’s pain 
A brief reflection of my (nearly) 10 years as a deacon

This is part of an ongoing series providing information and personal reflections about the permanent diaconate in anticipation of accepting applications for the 10th diaconate class this fall.

In the film, “Diethrich Bonhoeffer — Agent of Grace,” there is a very moving scene where, in a bombed out church in the German countryside, the great Lutheran clergyman, theologian and writer is ruminating aloud, in front of a small group of prisoners of war, about the future of Christianity in a world that had apparently rejected God. …


Mary, Mother of the Church

Mary, Mother of the Church and Spiritual maternity for priests 

This year June 1, the memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church sets the tone for a month traditionally devoted to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and to prayer for the sanctification of the clergy. With this new memorial we can perceive Our Lady’s maternal influence over the Church and the priesthood. In this article we will meditate on Mary, Mother of the Church as the Spiritual mother of priests and how we can share in her Spiritual maternity by our sacrifice and prayers for priests, in order to extend Christ’s mission and increase vocations in the Church.

Mary, Mother of the Church — Spouse of the Holy Spirit and Mediatrix of all graces

During the month of May we honor our Blessed Lady as our loving Mother of the Church. By instituting the memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church on the Monday after Pentecost, Pope Francis has shown us by means of the Liturgy the profound union that exists between Our Lady and the Holy Spirit. As we pray the nine-day Novena to the Holy Spirit in the final days before Pentecost, Mary accompanies the Church in prayer and watches over us with her maternal care just as she did at the beginning of the Church with the Apostles in the Upper Room. …

Mary, Mother of the Church and the Holy Mass

In this time when our access to the Eucharist has been made so difficult, let us all the more unite with Mary, Mother of the Church. Her life in union with Jesus was a daily taking up of the cross in preparation for Calvary and an anticipation of Heaven. Mary is for us today, as at Cana, interceding with Our Lord, with her words, “They have no wine.”  The joy of Sunday worship has been somewhat muted for us and yet she teaches us to trust in Him through the Church, “Do whatever He tells you.”  

Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of the Eucharist

According to St. John Paul II, “Mary, throughout her life at Christ’s side and not only on Calvary, made her own the sacrificial dimension of the Eucharist. In her daily preparation for Calvary, Mary experienced a kind of ‘anticipated Eucharist’ — one might say a “Spiritual communion” — of desire and of oblation, which would culminate in her union with her Son in His Passion, and then find expression after Easter by her partaking in the Eucharist which the Apostles celebrated as the memorial of that Passion.” 

Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of Sorrows

On April 3, Pope Francis in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta gave a homily encouraging veneration of Our Lady’s Seven Sorrows. It is a devotion which helps us commemorate the sorrows of Mary in her life of union with Jesus. Pope Francis outlined, “The first, just 40 days after the birth of Jesus, is the prophecy of Simeon, who speaks of a sword that will pierce her heart.” [1] This mystery came as a joy to holy Simeon to whom “it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord” (Lk 2:26).

Mary, Mother of the Church, the entire mystical Body of Christ

Our Lenten observance was punctuated with the Solemnity of the Annunciation on March 25. In this Joyful Mystery of the announcement of the Angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary “in the fullness of time” we recall that this was the moment all creation was awaiting since the fall of Adam and Eve. 

The Church reminds us to celebrate the mystery of the Annunciation and Incarnation of the Lord in Mary’s Immaculate Heart and in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. …

Mary, Mother of the Church and mother of the domestic Church

According to the “Catechism,” “The family is the privileged setting where every person learns to give and receive love.” The family — based on the permanent union of one man and one woman in Marriage — is threatened by a culture of death that promotes isolation from God. It takes extraordinary effort for families to foster a “culture of life” against such pervasive threats, yet that is precisely its mission as St. …

Mary, Mother of the Church: Our identity as adopted children of God and Mary Immaculate

Editor’s note: This begins a nine-part series focusing on the unifying centrality of Mary as Mother of the Church, the entire mystical Body of Christ. 

In our American culture there is a growing emphasis on personal identity. With the increase of political, gender, social and other self-made identities, we as Catholics risk getting lost in the contemporary “identity crisis.” Lent is an opportune time to reclaim our fundamental identity as members of the mystical Body of Christ in the Catholic Church. 


Living Our Lady’s Message

God’s plan of Salvation in the light of the second apparition of the Angel of Peace

Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, is the second in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

In Sacred Scripture Jesus tells us, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 18:3). If we want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, then of course we need to be obedient and submissive children of God. …

Eucharistic reparation through the third apparition of the Angel of Peace

Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, is the third in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

The consecutive apparitions of the Angel of Peace had the effect of forming the three shepherd children to live the words and example of the Angel more fully. After the three little shepherds had brought their flock to the place where the Angel had previously appeared, Lucia states in her memoirs, “As soon as we arrived there, we knelt down, with our foreheads touching the ground, and began to repeat the prayer of the Angel.” 

The May apparition of Our Lady of Fatima

Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, is the fourth in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

The Church traditionally devotes the month of May to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is the month when children receive their First Holy Communion and crown Our Blessed Mother with garlands of roses. …

The June apparition of Our Lady of Fatima

Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, is the fifth in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

Our Lady’s Apparition of June 13, 1917 came on the feast of St. Anthony. As one of Catholicism’s most beloved saints, he is often portrayed as carrying the Child Jesus in his arms. …

The July 13 apparition of Mary

Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, is the sixth in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

The apparition of Our Lady of Fatima on July 13 is one of the most notable of the apparitions. In this third apparition, we see the Blessed Virgin who showed hell to the three children: Lucia, 10, Francisco, nine, and Jacinta, seven. …

The August apparition and the passion of the children of Fatima

Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, is the seventh in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

The account of the August Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima came after the shepherd children had undergone much suffering. Perhaps in this month, the theme of the mystery of redemptive suffering and strength shines more vividly in the experiences of the three children. …

The September apparition of Our Lady of Fatima

Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, is the eighth in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

Days prior to the September Apparition of Our Lady, the three shepherd children offered to the united Hearts of Jesus and Mary a multitude of sacrifices done with zealous love to obtain the conversion of sinners and to save them from Hell. …

The October apparition of Our Lady of Fatima

Editor’s note: This guest column by Grace Small, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro and a high school teacher, is the ninth and final installment in a nine-part series on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

The Apparition on the 13th of October was the sixth apparition of Our Lady. It was the most anticipated Marian apparition by believers and skeptics. …


Holy Week 2020

Holy Week 2020: A Reflection

This morning, I celebrated the Palm Sunday Liturgy online in the Church of La Salette Shrine in Attleboro. I thought of sharing some of my thoughts for the coming week with you as we enter this most solemn of weeks. I am sure that each day, we will hear more and more about the spread of Coronavirus in the United States and around the globe: the number of new cases and the number of deaths due to Covid-19. 


Guest Columns

Finding God in the Coronavirus: Diocesan high school senior shares thoughts on current events

Finding God in the Coronavirus: Diocesan high school senior shares thoughts on current events

By Tom Canuel
Class of 2020
Coyle and Cassidy High School, Taunton

“Stay home. Try not to go out. Stay healthy during this pandemic.” Suddenly, it feels like this is the new …

Visions of a new Church: Same as the old Church!

Changes in parishes across the country have caused many people to become angry or frustrated with the Church. Change is never easy. In our society people expect to be heard …

ROE Act testimony day

On Monday, June 17, I was blessed to be able to go to Boston with some members of Massachusetts Citizens for Life in the Fall River chapter, in protest of the ROE Act that …

Setting things straight

Setting things straight

Shame on you, Gary Wills, religious historian, you know otherwise. 

Your recent piece in the Boston Globe has some egregious historical errors. Without entering into a sad …

Remembering Msgr. Moore

I think it was sometime during the summer of 1978 that I first met Father John Moore. Looking back at our first meeting, it occurred in a somewhat of a strange way. You see, …

Immigration, Church teaching and political calculus

I am writing in this space a guest column, instead of on the editorial page (although I did write this week’s editorial, as you can tell from the ample use of quotes and tangential …

In the ‘meantime,’ let’s keep Advent!

Advent ,when approached as more than the weeks prior to Christmas and thus merely as preparation for it, can function as an annual reminder to us of just where we are in the …

When and where is Advent?

On November 16 as a group of pilgrims who had accompanied me to the Holy Land arrived home and exited customs in Logan’s Terminal E, we were greeted by the sight of two Christmas …

Cardinal John Henry Newman and our times

After the intolerance, bigotry and hatred on the part of xenophobic groups at the recent demonstrations in Charlottesville we must turn to the lives of the saints who teach …

Nazi idealism, slavery and ME

Nazi idealism, slavery and ME

In the first half of the 20th century, the theory of eugenics brought visions of Utopia, and realities of horror here and abroad. A workable definition of eugenics could be …

Superheroes and the power of love

Superman has his red power cape. Elijah wore a cape to manifest his Divine authority. Most famously, the Virgin Mary is usually portrayed wearing a cape-like garment known …

Who is ready to stand up for religious liberty?

In college I grew in my Catholic faith and had a strong experience of religious pluralism. I was involved in the Newman Center daily, but I also had many non-Catholic friends …

The greatest mission for parents

Last month we watched Pope Francis travel to Fatima for the centenary of Our Lady’s apparitions to the three shepherd children, Lucia dos Santos and Jacinta and Francisco Marto. …

Other persons are a gift

A few days ago I met a very little girl who made a big impression on me. Grace and her older brother Benedict suffer from a rare genetic disorder that has resulted in serious …

Secrets of the fourth Gospel: A new approach

Secrets of the fourth Gospel: A new approach

For a period of time in the early years of the Church, it was felt necessary not to speak, or write openly about some of the beliefs of Christians. This was the age of the

The sick, our everyday heroes

Over Christmas, two of my family members were talking about a mutual friend who, though chronically ill, routinely does heroic acts of kindness for others. Though they get …

The Culture of Life begins in our hearts and our hands

Each October we observe Respect Life Month in dioceses throughout the United States. Although ending abortion remains a priority of the utmost importance, threats to the disabled …

Young people, talk to your grandparents!

For many young Catholics the defining moment of the summer took place in Poland, where Pope Francis joined more than a million teens and young adults for World Youth Day. Although …

Detour to Brooklyn, lesson in kindness

Working my first black tie dinner as a very junior public relations person, I learned virtually nothing about my chosen profession. The scale, pace and glitz of the fund-raising …

Dare to be of good cheer!

In May I was asked to offer a Spiritual reflection at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. I used my moment in the spotlight to share three pieces of advice that helped …

Seasons of the journey

St. Pope John Paul II described the unique essence of woman in these words: “The moral and Spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human …

From the ‘pond’ to the ‘ocean,’ and back again: Consecrated virginity lived in the world

People sometimes wonder about the Spirituality that marks my journey as a consecrated virgin living in the world. I describe my life metaphorically as undulating between a “…

Vocations: What can I do?

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Since getting involved in vocations work earlier this year, I occasionally get asked the question, “What can I do to help?” phrased in one way or another. I love this question …

The intersection of charism and apostolate

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“Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary .…”

I was perched on the arm of an empty recliner when I heard those words. Glancing across the room, I discovered their origin in a …

The treatment of offenders and the challenge of mass incarceration

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Reflections offered to His Holiness Pope Francis

Your Holiness,

It is both an honor and a privilege to come before you and to share some reflections that I offer as president …

The Fresh Bread of our existence

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One of the most satisfying smells that I have memory of was walking by the Continental Bakery on a Sunday morning on our way to Mass at St. Michael’s Church in Ocean Grove …

The many branches of consecrated life

Pope Francis recently declared 2015 as the Year of Consecrated Life. What is consecrated life? It is a gift conferred by Christ when He calls a person individually to respond …

God in the schools

God in the schools

When I went to elementary school nearly 50 years ago, it was a great feeling to be told by my teacher that it was time to pray. Every morning, the class went silent for several …

The government and Marriage

The government and Marriage

When two people decide to get married, where at least one of the spouses is on federal subsidy because of a disability, the government has a tendency to cut benefits from the …



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