Boston College can be commended for celebrating its 150th anniversary the way a Catholic college should: with a call to service, and with an opening Mass yesterday concelebrated by Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap., and BC President Father William Leahy, S.J., at Fenway Park.
But it must have seemed strange to the 20,000 participants that Cardinal O’Malley did not deliver the homily—instead, that honor was given to Father Michael Himes, OFM, a BC theology professor. He’s the same Fr. Himes who in February reportedly said it was “absolutely mad” to expect celibacy from homosexuals.
Cardinal O’Malley made “relatively brief remarks” after Mass, according to theBoston Globe. He reportedly did not mention BC’s frequent conflicts with Catholic teaching and the university’s own Catholic identity, but instead remarked on the historical contributions BC has made to Boston and the Church. From the Globe:
…[Cardinal] O’Malley praised Boston College for its role in the “Catholic emancipation,” a reference to the strong anti-Catholic sentiment faced by early Irish immigrants to Boston, such as BC’s founder, the Rev. John McElroy.
“In the days of Father McElroy, it wasn’t easy to be a Catholic or immigrant in Boston, and it isn’t easy today,” [Cardinal] O’Malley said. “We still need the giants of Catholic education to help form new disciples in the [C]hurch.
“The involvement of BC with the renewal of our Catholic schools has made a huge difference,” he continued. “BC has been a very important part in the history of our local church and we are all delighted to be a part of this magnificent celebration in Fenway Park.”
That latter point about Catholic schools is noteworthy in light of the service program launched by BC to celebrate its anniversary, according to The Heights:
As part of Boston College’s Sesquicentennial celebration, University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., and the Volunteer and Service Learning Center (VSLC) have invited members of the BC community to participate in 150 minutes of community service during the three semesters of the Sesquicentennial.
BC Alumni will also be asked to participate in 150 minutes of service through the more than 25 alumni service projects offered by alumni chapters or on the National Day of Service, April 23, 2013. To promote student involvement and outreach on the BC campus during the 150th anniversary, the VSLC has created a new program called the Eagle Volunteers.
The Eagle Volunteers is a student volunteer program that allows BC students to choose a volunteer opportunity that fits their schedule and interests. Through the VSLC, the Eagle Volunteers will be offering BC students three volunteer locations where they can complete their service time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays throughout the year.
Volunteer sites include St. Peter’s Teen Center and the Yawkey Center Food Pantry, both associated with Catholic Charities of Boston. But the third volunteer site is the Epiphany School, an Episcopal middle school for needy children. The choice of an Episcopal school is interesting, especially in light of Cardinal O’Malley’s praise for BC’s role in the “renewal of our Catholic schools.”
Despite the blemishes, Boston College’s choice to celebrate BC’s sesquicentennial with a public Mass and a call to service is a hopeful sign that after 150 years, Catholic tradition still holds a special place at Boston College.
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