Farewell Fr. Flavin

June 1, 2011

Some people may know that Fr. James Flavin, Director of Pastoral Care of Priests for the past five years, is moving on to a new role outside of the archdiocese at the St. John Vianney Center in Pennsylvania, which provides psychological care and counseling for behavioral health issues.  We thought we would take this time to bid him farewell, and his departure also brought to mind the idea to highlight a couple of the many real problems faced by priests.

First we cover Fr. Flavin and then the problems.

Fr. Flavin’s new role

Below is the email sent out in late March.  The going-away party was just last week, so that is why we waited until now to share this.
To:
Sent: Monday, March 28, 2011
Subject: RE: Fr. James A. Flavin appointed as Director of Clinical Services at St. John Vianney Center (Downingtown, PA)

Good afternoon,

On behalf of Cardinal Seán, I am pleased to announce that Father James Flavin, Director of Pastoral Care of Priests for the past five years, has accepted an offer to serve as Director of Clinical Services at the Saint John Vianney Center in Pennsylvania effective July 1, 2011. Father Flavin’s ministry to priests of Boston has been invaluable. He will now bring his gifts and talents to the service of the larger Church community in the United States.

Father Flavin wishes to share these words with his brother priests:  “Brothers, it has been an honor to work with you so closely these past five years. I am grateful to Cardinal Seán for the privilege to care for my brother priests during a critical period in our lives.  Needless to say, this ministry has been intensive but very rewarding.  The position at Saint John Vianney is a great opportunity.  I have worked closely with the staff there, I believe in the mission of Saint John Vianney, and I think that I can make a contribution to the care of priests and religious who go there for therapy. I am sure that my experience at Saint John Vianney will give me additional insights and talents to bring back to the Archdiocese of Boston, my home and the presbyterate I am honored to be part of. I welcome the offer of this position.  I thank Cardinal Seán for allowing me to accept it.  I ask for your prayers and support as I move onto to this next assignment.”

With Fr. Flavin’s new assignment this summer, our priest services group is already working on a plan to continue Fr. Flavin’s work.  Father Foley, Episcopal Vicar and Secretary for Parish Life and Leadership, is assisted by Father Michael Medas, who serves as Director of Clergy Personnel. Fathers Foley and Medas are dedicated full-time to the care of the clergy. Fathers James McCune, Edwin Condon and Brian Clary assist with clergy services. In addition, Mary Hanlon, RN, coordinates medical evaluations and care for our priests, and we are establishing a working relationship with a priest-psychologist to make recommendations for the psychological care and counseling of priests.  The priests and lay staff of the Clergy Office will continue to provide pastoral care and support for our priests, as well as on-going formation, personnel-related services and general assistance to the clergy on behalf of Cardinal O’Malley.

Please join me in congratulating Fr. Flavin and in offering our prayers for his ministry.

Fraternally,

Rich

Very Reverend Richard M. Erikson, Ph.D., V.G.
Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia
Archdiocese of Boston
Pastoral Center
66 Brooks Drive
Braintree, MA  02184

We realize that Fr. Flavin, like anyone in the sort of role he has occupied, has his supporters and critics.  Priests are human and subject to human failings and his role has been to try and help them in whatever situation they might be. BCI hears many positive things about his compassion and contributions in that role.  As most people know, priests may need care and counseling for any of a variety of issues: sexual abuse, sexual addiction, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, or some other issue. These issues can affect priests, religious, bishops, even archbishops.

Loneliness

With the shortage of priests, many diocesan priests face excessive workloads and live alone or work in relative isolation from other priests. Psychologists agree that the problem of loneliness can be prompted or exacerbated by a stressful, hectic schedule that is not conducive to adequate self-care. Pope John Paul II (1992) addressed the issue of loneliness in the priesthood in Pastores Dabo Vobis (I Will Give You Shepherds):

There is a loneliness which all priests experience and which is completely normal. But there is another loneliness which is the product of various difficulties and which in turn creates further difficulties. With regard to the latter, “active participation in the diocesan presbyterate, regular contact with the Bishop and with the other priests, mutual cooperation, common life or fraternal dealings between priests, as also friendship and good relations with the lay faithful who are active in parish life, are very useful means to overcome the negative effects of loneliness which the priest can sometimes experience”. [227]

If and when the current Pastoral Planning process ever concludes with some form of parish reconfiguration and consolidation–and assuming the committee does not lose too many more members who see it going nowhere fast–the intent is to have several priests living in a rectory, rather than one priest living alone.

Depression

BCI found the comment about “regular contact with the Bishop” from the Holy Father’s letter interesting.  For reasons already written about here at Boston Catholic Insider, we are not sure Cardinal O’Malley is inclined to have regular one-on-one contact with the presbyterate.  He is known to be shy and has acknowledged that. A Boston Globe interview when he was elevated to Cardinal in 2006 broached the subject of depression (“I often hear people say…you seem depressed by the job.”).  If you are a paid subscriber to the Globe, you can read the interview here, but if you do not subscribe, you can see the interview freely accessible here.  We offer an excerpt below:

Q: How do you cope with the controversies and the scrutiny?

A: Well, I’m just getting used to it I guess. As I said when I came, eat those powder milk biscuits for shy people.

Q: Do you think your physical or mental health has been affected by this job?

A: (laughter) Well, I don’t think so, but I may not be the best judge of that.

Q: I often hear people say they think you’ve lost a lot of weight or that you seem depressed by the job. Do you see either of those as being the case?

A: I don’t think so. I think that sometimes the problems weigh heavily upon me, but I don’t think I’ve been depressed. Depression, I think, is when you’re depressed and you have nothing to be depressed about. (laughter). When I’m depressed, I have something to be depressed about. If you know what I mean.

Q: I’m sure you recall, there was that clause in the letter, I think it was last fall, maybe it was two falls ago, in which you talked about sometimes wanting God to call you home. How should people understand that?

A: That reconfiguration was so much fun (laughter) that – I don’t think that was a cry of depression. I think it was trying to share with people the pain that I was experiencing in this process. But I think I still have my wits about me.

Q: How do you think your leadership style and your personality are suited to or stretched by being archbishop of Boston?

A: Well, I’m a good listener, and I think that the priests and the people appreciate that. I believe in delegating. I think in a diocese this big that needs to be done. But this is a very large diocese and I’m still learning.

Looking back on the last 5 years since that interview, there is quite a lot to be gleaned from those comments and others in the interview. We already knew he is a “listener.”  Has the “delegating” served the archdiocese well?  Are the right people in-place for him to delegate to?  Is the Daughters of St. Paul situation that dragged on for 5 years and resulted in a legal complaint an example of “delegation”?  Is it really “delegation” or is more like “abdication” in some cases?  Is there a lot about what is happening in the Boston Archdiocese that still gives the Cardinal something to be depressed about, or are we past that now?  Do those close to the Cardinal support and protect him, or do they take advantage of any of the human weaknesses he has revealed?

There are 3 intended takeaways from our post today. Good luck to Fr. Flavin, pastoral planning should ensure that priests’ well-being is an important consideration, and we need to pray for all of our priests and religious, our Cardinal and the future of our archdiocese.


Retaliation

May 27, 2011

The saga of the Archdiocese of  Boston and the Daughters of St. Paul continues today with so many developments, BCI can barely keep up.

We posted yesterday in, “Daughters’ Lawsuit Against Cardinal Settled, But…” how the legal action was settled, but the provincial leadership team was removed. It is tough to see that move as anything but retaliation.

Today, the Boston Globe is running an article, “Daughters of St. Paul replaces local leader” that sheds some new light on who did what, but there is still a lot of ambiguity. So, BCI will try to fill in the gaps.

Bottom line is that Cardinal O’Malley and the Archdiocese of Boston are asking you and me to believe some things that defy believability. The archdiocese is asking us to believe there was no connection between the Cardinal calling the Superior General of the Daughters in Italy to complain about the legal action by the U.S. province and the ultimate sacking of the U.S. provincial and most of the provincial leadership team.

We only have time for a few points today, so we will have to come back to this in our next post.

Everyone needs to remember that the U.S. province did not sue the Archbishop of Boston.  The Daughters asked the court to order a full accounting of their contributions to the plan by the plan trustees (that included Cardinal O’Malley), or to order that their contributions be returned. They did not sue the bishop, they brought action against the Board of Trustees, of whom the Cardinal was a member.  As the Boston Globe reported initially back in March,” the nuns have asked the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to order the pension plan trustees, who include O’Malley and several of his top aides, to provide them with a full accounting of the nuns’ portion of the fund, or to rule that the nuns were technically never part of the church-run plan and to order the archdiocese to reimburse the nuns’ contributions, plus returns.”  Taking care of their lay employees is required under civil law and there is nothing canonically wrong or disrespectful with this either, especially since the Cardinal’s own staff stonewalled the Daughters for 5 years.  Based on what BCI has heard, it appears to BCI that neither the Cardinal nor the Daughters Superior General completely understand how both canon and civil law work.

The circumstances around the sacking of the U.S. provincial merit clarification.  First off, according to this article, the appointment of the previous U.S. provincial was in the first week of July of 2008.  Thus her 3-year-term would have ended in July of 2011. Was the provincial government near the end of the term?  Yes. At the end of the term?  No.  There is no question that the Superior General’s decision to remove the provincial two months before the end of the 3-year term was unusual.  There is also little question that the complaint from Cardinal O’Malley contributed to that move.  Did the Cardinal specifically ask the Superior General to remove the provincial leadership? Probably not.  But was it because of Cardinal O’Malley complaining to the Superior General that the removal action followed?  Put another way, had the Cardinal not called the Superior General to complain, would the Superior General have removed the provincial? Probably not.

Here is what the Globe article says: “Richard Nicotra, a Staten Island hotelier who is a significant benefactor of the Daughters, said in an interview with the Globe Monday that Sato and other nuns were deeply distraught about the leadership change. He said they told him that the cardinal had called Bruscato in Rome and told her that he was embarrassed by the lawsuit. As a result, Nicotra said the nuns told him, Bruscato came to Boston and ousted Sato. “What the nuns in Boston were so upset about was that she didn’t have their back,’’ he said.

The new U.S. provincial is Sr. Mary Leonora Wilson. According to this short biography, Sr. Leonora has been out of the U.S. for most of the past 28 years (in Russia and Germany) and away from the motherhouse for all of that time.  Just now back in Boston, she may not yet completely understand the current situation, politics, deception and corruption in the Archdiocese of Boston, and current level of discontent amongst the other Daughters locally and in the U.S. over what has just happened.

As for the timeframe of exactly when the previous provincial and new provincial were informed, there really is not nearly as much that is “disputed” as the Globe report suggested.  Sr. Leonora says the Superior General decided to not reappoint the previous provincial “shortly after Easter.”  Easter was April 24, so “shortly after Easter” could have been within a week or two after Easter.  As best as BCI can determine, the U.S. province learned about the change in provincial government during the first week in May. Terms of the settlement were also finalized during that timeframe. The Superior General arrived the following week (during the week of May 9)  and met with Cardinal O’Malley at the Cathedral Rectory on Saturday, May 14.

The various communications from the archdiocese, including Terry Donilon’s late-night communication Thursday night to warn priests and employees about the Globe story appearing on Friday will have to be the subject of a different post.

Suffice to say that Donilon saying to the Globe, the Cardinal, “feels a particular bond with the Daughters and strongly supports their mission of communicating the Gospel” rings hollow right now.  If the Cardinal felt a particular bond with the Daughters, then why did he fail to take responsibility for resolving this and instead let their situation drag on for 5 years, leading to the legal action?  Why did he deny he knew of their level of frustration? Why did he not get personally involved to try and expediently settle the matter with the U.S. province? Why did he allow the patriarchal church to attack faithful women religious? What is he doing to address the problem of the collateral damage to the U.S. province that happened after he called the Superior General?

Something needs to change around the Archdiocese of Boston soon. Please keep the Cardinal and Daughters of St. Paul in your prayers.


Daughters’ Lawsuit Against Cardinal Settled, But…

May 26, 2011

The Archdiocese of Boston and the Daughters of St. Paul issued what was called a “joint statement” yesterday announcing that they have settled the nuns’ lawsuit against Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley and other trustees of its lay pension plan.   The Boston Globe and AP reported on the news of the settlement, and though the average reader might assume everything is now all well and good, that is far from the truth. What was not reported is the collateral damage the Daughters have suffered internally from how Cardinal O’Malley and the archdiocese reacted to the bad publicity over the lawsuit. Your prayers are needed for all parties involved.

First we will cover what has been said publicly about the settlement, and then the collateral damage.  From the Boston Globe we hear the following:

The Daughters, an international order of nuns whose North American headquarters is in Jamaica Plain, sued late last year to force the archdiocese to hand over the investments the Daughters had made in the archdiocese’s pension plan on behalf of the order’s lay employees.

The archdiocese did not disclose the amount of the settlement, but its statement said the agreement “included a transfer of the Archdiocese Pension Plan assets allocable to the Daughters of St. Paul to a new pension plan administered by the Daughters” and that it would “allow the Daughters to independently provide retirement benefits to their current and former employees.”

The Daughters claim they have been trying to extricate their lay employees’ assets from the church-run fund for years so that they could control the investments themselves. They had maintained they were owed nearly $1.4 million, based on their estimates of the value of their assets in 2007. In the lawsuit, they also claimed the archdiocese failed to maintain proper records of their assets.

Here is the “Joint Statement” issued by the Archdiocese:

May 25, 2011- Joint Statement from the Daughters of St. Paul and the Archdiocese of Boston

The Trustees of the Archdiocese of Boston Pension Plan and the Daughters of St. Paul are pleased to announce that as a result of the diligent efforts of all involved, a mutually satisfactory resolution to their differences has been reached.  As a result, on May 10, 2011, the parties jointly requested the court to dismiss the complaint filed by the Daughters in December 2010.  Click here for a copy of that joint filing.

The settlement, which included a transfer of the Archdiocese Pension Plan assets allocable to the Daughters of St. Paul to a new pension plan administered by the Daughters, will allow the Daughters to independently provide retirement benefits to their current and former employees.

The relationship between the Archdiocese of Boston and the Daughters of St. Paul, which began in the 1950s, when Cardinal Cushing welcomed the Daughters into the Archdiocese by giving them a bookstore in South Boston and a retreat house in Billerica, continues to be a strong and positive one.  Many Sisters in the community generously contribute to media initiatives around the Archdiocese, appearing on the new Catholic Radio station, WQOM 1060 AM, participating in Catholic media symposia and workshops, providing a source for Catholic media through their Pauline Book & Media center in Dedham and sharing their stories of faith on the Archdiocesan website’s Delegate for Religious home page. The Sisters also actively support the Archdiocese Pro-Life Office in countless ways.

The Archdiocese looks forward to continuing the tradition of having priests of the Archdiocese of Boston celebrate daily Mass for the Daughters at their chapel in Jamaica Plain as we work together to deepen and strengthen our common Faith.

(Interesting that no one from the Daughters of St. Paul is quoted in the “joint statement,” but we digress…)

The above represents just half the story. Though the two sides came to a mutually agreeable settlement, all but one of the provincial leadership team at the Daughters were removed from their leadership roles, apparently as a consequence of the archdiocese’s reaction to the lawsuit and media coverage of it.

In the interest of full disclosure, BCI has never requested permission or approval from the Daughters to report on this situation, and the Daughters declined to comment for this story. So here is some additional background as BCI understands it from other sources:

  • Claims by Cardinal O’Malley  to not have known about pending lawsuit are in dispute. Cardinal O’Malley has acknowledged he knew there was a problem–he received correspondence from the Daughters about the pension issue several years ago, he has said he quickly responded that the archdiocese would help them, and asked his staff to meet with the Daughters, which they did on multiple occasions.Though he has claimed to Pastoral Center employees and priests that the Daughters never let him or the Vicar General know they were dissatisfied with the progress of negotiations until they filed the lawsuit, his claim that he was unaware of the Daughters’ level of dissatisfaction is in dispute. This March 21 article in the Globe quoted the Daughters’ lawyer as saying the lawsuit was pursued only as a last resort, and “The Daughters of St. Paul are just as unhappy as they can be about having to do this.”  Several sources tell BCI that the claim by the Cardinal suggesting he was oblivious to the prospect of a lawsuit does not hold water. A reasonable person might ask any of the following questions: Did the Cardinal intentionally disengage and delegate or abdicate responsibility?  Did he not insist his staff keep him informed?  Did his staff keep this from him?  Did he know the Daughters felt they had exhausted everything but he did not accept that they were serious about the prospect of a lawsuit?  Or did he indeed know exactly what was coming from first-hand conversations, but he is just not acknowledging it?
  • Cardinal escalated situation to Daughters’ Superior General: After the lawsuit was filed and the Globe and other publications reported on it, the Cardinal was displeased with the negative media exposure and contacted the Superior General of the Daughters in Italy, Sr. Maria Antonieta Bruscato, to complain about the action. He had met her previously, as described in this 2008 entry on his blog. (“Then, I met with the superior general of the Daughters of St. Paul, Sister Maria Antonieta Bruscato. She is from southern Brazil, so we spoke Portuguese at the luncheon.”).  When a religious sister gets a call from a Cardinal, the hierarchical “red hat” is usually taken very seriously. That is what happened in this situation.
  • First mediation session ended without resolution. As BCI reported in “Pension Contention,” the first mediation session held March 29 ended without meaningful progress.  But substantial progress towards settlement was made in subsequent discussions through early May.
  • Superior General came to the U.S. earlier this month. Most of the U.S. provincial leadership team was removed.  Among the things BCI understands the Superior General did either before coming to Boston or after arriving was to consult with some of the other sisters here about the provincial leadership team. The provincial leadership team serves a three-year term, and the term of the 5-member team was to be ending in July. The Superior General appoints the team, and has the prerogative to renew terms if she wishes. This is objective, factual information (as evidenced here: “term is three years, with the possibility of being appointed to a second consecutive term”). Independent of the pension situation, BCI was aware of great things the provincial leadership team had accomplished during their term keeping the retail bookstores going during a down economy, releasing iPhone apps, and continuing the publishing, recording and evangelization initiatives. Despite these accomplishments, despite previous indications that the terms would be renewed and despite the level of confidence in the provincial leadership team we understand the Superior General found from the other sisters, BCI understands that the Superior General ignored this input and removed all but one of the team from their leadership roles effective immediately. This included the U.S. provincial superior, whose biography published upon her being named provincial for the U.S. and Toronto can be found here. (Masters in non-profit management from Notre Dame, bachelors degree from Emerson, previously was superior in Hawaii,  entered the convent at 17-years-old, spent 16 of her 30 years with the community in central governing positions, 13 as the provincial treasurer and three as a member of the provincial governing council).
  • Morale at the motherhouse in Jamaica Plain and in the U.S. province is not good right now.  Your prayers for the Daughters are much needed.

We have assembled this information over the course of several weeks and believe it to be accurate, but if anyone from the Daughters or the archdiocese has facts that dispute anything above, please let us know and we will be glad to make a correction.

It is difficult to look at what has transpired right now and feel this is a good outcome. The Daughters tried to resolve the dispute with the archdiocese over pensions for their lay employees for 5 years, as a last resort they filed a lawsuit, BCI wrote about it since we discovered it was public information on an archdiocesan website, the Globe and other papers picked-up the story, the Cardinal and his team got upset by the bad PR, he used the hierarchical “red hat” to push the Superior General to intervene, and the settlement that was nearly done before the Superior General arrived in the U.S. validated all of the merits of the Daughters’ original claim.  And by all indications, the end result of the Cardinal’s call to the Superior General complaining about the legal action was the removal of a dedicated, talented U.S. provincial leadership team 2 months before their three-year term was to have ended.  The Cardinal and his spokespeople will no doubt deny that his outreach to the Superior General was intended to take out the U.S. provincial leadership. However, whether an intended consequence or not, it is tough to not see the outcome for those provincial leaders as some form of retaliation by the archdiocese, the Cardinal, and his advisors.

BCI wonders if and when the Cardinal will ever publicly take responsibility for his actions and those of the archdiocese. The fact is that the Daughters of St. Paul tried for 5 years to resolve this matter with the Archdiocese of Boston and filed a lawsuit against the trustees of the pension fund as a last resort. Yet, the Cardinal’s comments about this situation and others typically have a tone of casting blame on others.  We do not ever hear him say something such as, “I realize that I screwed up”  or “My team did not address this issue in an expedient manner” or  “My team did not escalate this appropriately to me” or  “We mistakenly did not take seriously enough the indications the Daughters were frustrated and about to file a lawsuit.”  Instead, the tone and actions come across as casting the responsibility on others–they did not tell me, the media is to blame, etc.

BCI and thousands to tens of thousands of faithful Catholics clearly see an episcopal leadership void in the Archdiocese of Boston. For whatever reason, responsibilities for day-to-day leadership and management of the archdiocese appear to be almost entirely relegated, delegated, or abdicated to the likes of Chancellor Jim McDonough and his minions, Fr. Bryan Hehir, and Jack Connors.  What faithful Catholics see of the Archbishop of Boston is mostly travel and blogging about the travel. The organizational casualties to the Daughters are but one consequence of this situation. There are many others of even graver magnitude.

When will something change in Boston?  Will Cardinal O’Malley do something to repair the damage inflicted on the Daughters of St. Paul by this ordeal so they can most effectively continue their ministry? More importantly, will he acknowledge the governance problems under his watch and ask the Holy See to quickly help fill the void?

We urge our readers to continue to support the Daughers of St. Paul and pray for the Daughters, the Cardinal, and the Archdiocese of Boston. We suggest the beautiful words of the Memorare as a good starting point.


Pension Contention

March 30, 2011

We know everyone is waiting for the latest in the employee pension saga–both the issues raised by former Chancellor David Smith on behalf of former employees, and the mediation session yesterday between the Daughters of St. Paul and the Archdiocese of Boston to try and resolve the stalemate over them getting their lay employee pension funds out of the archdiocesan pension plan.

To be honest with you, we are afraid that we have not got much news we can report.

There is no public word from Attorney General Martha Coakley or Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin about whether they will intervene to take over and manage the archdiocesan plan.  Perhaps Martha is so busy looking at the issue of board of director fees paid by the state’s large health insurers that she has simply not had the time yet to look at the problems of coercion, deception, withholding of information, diversion of funds from one corporate entity to benefit a different one, material non-disclosure, and broken promises that affect 10,000 lay employees dealing with the $70 million underfunding of the Archdiocese’s employee pension fund.  As an aside, it baffles BCI how she can justify being so committed to dealing with the problem of director stipends at some non-profits (like Blue Cross), but not concerned at all with vastly greater excessive spending at other non-profits, like the Boston archdiocese. The AP reported earlier in March that she said this about Blue Cross:

“Blue Cross enjoys certain tax benefits as a non-profit in exchange for being committed to a purpose other than making money. Paying directors makes it look a lot like a regular business, and Blue Cross can’t have it both ways.”

Is it not be case that paying excessive salaries to lay executives instead of using those scarce monies to fund the lay or clergy pension funds would also be problematic for a non-profit charity like the Catholic Church, whose purpose is also other than making money?  (Sorry, we digress…)

Back to the pensions, as far as the mediation between the Daughters of St. Paul and the Boston archdiocese, sources indicate that no meaningful progress was made in the day-long mediation session on Tuesday.  The absence of any announcement by either side today would serve to validate that.  In terms of  next steps in the lawsuit and court case, we need to confirm those before we can share more details, but by all indications, it appears they will be headed to court.

The silence by Terry Donilon on this issue today is particularly noteworthy.  Terry was “Mr. Interview” on Monday when he was leading the smear campaign to counter the bad press about the latest pension flap.  Today, nada.  You will all also recall how confident he was just a week ago to Catholic News Service that the situation with the Daughters would get resolved amicably:

“Terrence Donilon, archdiocesan secretary for communications and public affairs, told Catholic News Service in an email March 23 that the archdiocese has been working “for some time” with the Daughters of St. Paul “regarding their request to withdraw from the lay pension plan.” Donilon said archdiocesan officials believed they were “making progress toward resolving any outstanding concerns” and found the December lawsuit “unexpected.” Since the suit was filed, he said, the archdiocese reached an agreement with the Daughters of St. Paul “on a number of issues.” He also noted that the archdiocese has “a long-standing and good relationship” with the sisters. “We will resolve this disagreement through mediation and continue to work closely together in the future for the good of the church.”

Terry, how confident are you now that the disagreement will get resolved through mediation?


Evangelization

September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day!

Today we take a break from our standard editorial content to let you know about something that all readers might wish to support–an upcoming event that Boston-area readers may want to attend and a worthy cause associated with the event which readers from any part of the country can contribute to.

The Daughters of St. Paul , based locally here in Jamaica Plain, are honoring Harvard Professor and former Vatican ambassador, Mary Ann Glendon on Sunday, September 12 at 3pm.  Here on the blog, we are anonymous fans of the Daughters of St. Paul and of Prof. Glendon.  The Daughters were founded by Blessed James Alberione, who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in April of 2003.  The Daughters live in community, and as described on their website, “are women consecrated like Paul the Apostle to be apostles of Christ to the world of today, announcing the message of reconciliation using the means of communication.”  The Daughters do fantastic work and operate 12 Pauline Book and Media stores across the U.S.  Funds raised from the event will benefit the Daughters of Saint Paul’s efforts to use new media for evangelization.

Here are some excerpts from the article in The Boston Pilot announcing the event. (Coincidentally, the article was from the same edition where they reported on the archdiocese blocking this blog).   If you want to skip the details and jump right to the page where you can either register or make a contribution, click here.

BRAINTREE — As they further equip their sisters to be more effective evangelizers in a digital age, the Daughters of St. Paul are inaugurating an award by honoring a former Vatican ambassador who garnered national attention when she refused an award from a well-known Catholic university.

On Sunday, Sept. 12, the Daughters of St. Paul will honor Professor Mary Ann Glendon at an Afternoon Tea at 3 p.m. at the Daughters of St. Paul’s convent in Jamaica Plain with the sisters’ first-ever Cordero Award.

The award will be presented annually to a Catholic person or organization who has “striven to uplift the human spirit and to recognize the dignity of the human person in or through the media.”

Funds raised from the event will benefit the Daughters of Saint Paul’s new media initiatives by further educating the sisters to be more effective users of new media to evangelize in modern times.

“When we think of education, we immediately think of children or teenagers. But if today’s educators aren’t keeping up with the times, then how can we be effective teachers and evangelizers?” asked Sister Christine Setticase, a member of the Daughters of St. Paul. “As our culture dives deeper into the age of digital media, we want to present the Gospel message in a way that is interesting and relevant. But to do this we need to specialize and know the language of today’s youth.”

Glendon is currently a professor at Harvard Law School and president of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences and former Vatican ambassador. She has taught and written on subjects such as bioethics, constitutional law, comparative law and human rights. She is a longtime consultant to the USCCB and is on the editorial and advisory board of the journal First Things.

During the afternoon, Glendon will also give a talk entitled “The Lay Vocation in a Media Culture: New Challenges.”

“As a prominent Catholic and as a former ambassador, she has always spoken up for the Catholic faith and the defense of human life,” Sister Setticase said. “She’s certainly an example of someone who has mirrored the Holy Father’s teachings.”

For more information about the event please contact Sister Christine at 617-921-0228 or csetticase@paulinemedia.com.

Note:  No one from the archdiocese or the Daughters of St. Paul has asked us to promote this cause, and we hope that the archdiocese does not feel the anonymous bloggers are doing “harm to the community” by our promotion of this worthy cause and the evangelization work of a religious community that is faithful to the teachings of the Church.  Individual seats for the event  are $100 and you will find other options for various levels of sponsorship from $500 up to $5,000 here.  Even if you cannot attend, we invite readers to consider supporting the cause.

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Ps. We also pause from the normal listing of the archdiocesan “Silence Meter”–that cites the amount of time which has passed since we first alerted archdiocesan officials about problems with conflicts of interest, cronyism, and unethical practices–to reference the first reading from today’s lectionary, a reading from the first Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor 5:1-8).  “It is widely reported that there is immorality among you…Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough…Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”


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