Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
I pray that this letter finds you all staying safe and well during these days. As I write this, though we remain in the midst of our state of emergency the news is reporting that the “numbers” in Massachusetts are trending in a favorable direction. This is good news. Let us pray that this trend continues and that our plight might be eased. This week I started to have conversations with our Parish Pastoral Council and with the staff, trying to “imagine” what our worship will be like when we are finally able to offer public Masses again. Cardinal Sean has also begun this at the Archdiocesan level and we will, of course, follow the lead of the Archdiocese in this regard.
May 10th, if it were not a Sunday this year, would be observed in the United States as the memorial of St. Damien de Veuster or St. Damien of Molokai. It is a shame that his memorial is missed this year for, it seems to me, he is an important saint for us to be turning to now, so that we might seek his intercession during this pandemic. St. Damien was a missionary from Belgium who belonged to the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
In the late 19th century, a colony was formed on Molokai to quarantine those in the Hawaiian Islands that were suffering from leprosy, now known as Hansen’s disease, so as to stop the spread of the disease (sound familiar?). With no one to care for their spiritual needs, Damien volunteered to go to minister to them. He cared for both their spiritual and physical needs, helping them to recognize their own dignity in spite of how the outside world looked upon them. After laboring for years within the colony, Damien contracted the disease himself and died from it in 1889 at the age of 49. He was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in 1995 and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.
Let us seek St. Damien’s intercession, in our own days of quarantine, towards our being liberated from this COVID-19 plague, and for all who suffer from it in any way. Let us ask his prayers for all the medical personnel assisting them and for all those who, by doing their daily tasks, are at risk, as well as all those who are unable to be with their loved ones in their suffering. You may also be aware that some teams of priests from the Archdiocese have been designated to minister solely to those who are dying of COVID-19, to bring them the consolation of the anointing of the sick. Let us pray for them also, as they go at all hours of the day to comfort the dying, that they may be kept safe from the disease themselves.
Finally, I want to wish all the moms a very blessed Mothers’ Day this Sunday. No doubt it will be one different from any that we’ve seen. On a day that usually sees a lot of people going to restaurants, there will likely be a lot of take out! God bless and stay safe!