During this past week, as we entered into the last full week before Ash Wednesday, the Church celebrated two feasts of note, one a major one, the other a lesser one. The lesser one celebrated on Saturday commemorated the feast of Saint Blaise, a martyr of the early church. There is a legend that St. Blaise cured a young man who had a bone stuck in his throat, and this gave to the sacramental we have of the blessing of throats on the feast of Saint Blaise.
Saint Blaise believed to have been martyred during the persecution of the Emperor Licinius in the early fourth century. He was the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia and is venerated by the Eastern Church.
The other feast celebrated during the past week on Friday was the Feast of the Lord. In accordance with the Law of Moses all male babies were to be presented to the Lord forty days after their birth.
The feast originated in the fourth century in Jerusalem and in the fifth century in Rome under the titles "Feast of the Meeting." and is also known as Candlemas Day. It has a special meaning for me and for some one hundred plus priests of the Archdiocese who were ordained on this day. Traditionally ordination day was set in May, and then, in 1955 was observed in January. The Class of 1953 was accelerated and so the class was ordained in January of 1953, and the next class was ordained in September of 1953. The members of that class will tell you that the diocese needed priest so badly that their ordination date was moved from May to September. There are others who will tell you the reason for moving the date up was due to the need for housing for the large class entering the major seminary. I mention this because my class, numbering 84 students entered the Fall of that year. In either case, the next class was ordained on February 2nd, setting a pattern which existed for the next six or seven years. My class was ordained on February 2nd, 1957 with fifty two priests ordained for the Archdiocese of Boston and another thirty one ordained for dioceses from Racife, Brazil to Worcester, Mass, with many diocese in between. These large classes, with over fifty priests ordained for about five or six years has resulted in the large number of priests now in retirement or about to retire. That is why we are so grateful to you for your generous response to the appeals for the Health and Retirement benefits of the retired priests, some fifty or so who live at the retirement home for priests, Regina Cleri which is located directly behind Massachusetts s General Hospital.
From these facts it is quite clear that we must pray, and pray hard for vocations to the priesthood. Cardinal Sean has said that if every parish in the Archdiocese could send one student to the seminary the needs of the diocese would be filled for years. Please pray for an increase of vocations, and pray, especially, for my fellow members of the Class of 1957 that they may be blessed with health and happiness.
Fr John R. Mulvehill