Vicar general compare service in Boston and Iraq

Vicar general compare service in Boston and Iraq

The Boston Globe profiles Fr. Richard Erikson, the vicar general for the Archdiocese of Boston, today, making his most recent assignment as an Air Force chaplain who served in Iraq the basis for comparison with his new job. The occasion was his talk at “Christ in the City” lecture series sponsored by the Vocations Office of the archdiocese.

The Rev. Richard M. Erikson, vicar general of the archdiocese, was by turns humorous and somber as he described his 2004 tour of duty in Balad, Iraq, and his adjustment to dealing with the grievous problems of the church in Boston after coming here in June 2006.

“One of the big differences between Iraq and Boston,” the 48-year-old priest said at a midday forum at the Old State House, “is, in Iraq, first there’s the sirens and then there’s the hit. In Boston, first there’s the hit, then the sirens.

“Iraq was intense, horrible, and life-giving in terms of my life as a priest,” said Erikson, who holds the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.

“Hearing confession under fire, blessing someone who is about to die, praying with people about to go out on patrol—there are times over the last 18 months I’ve wished I was back in Iraq, where I knew what I was doing,” Erikson said.

The article makes one misstep. It characterizes the lecture series as an effort to encourage people to consider vocations in the religious life. While that’s part of it, I know that the Vocations Office sees its mission as more than that, as encouraging Catholics to consider their call from God to whatever state in life, whether it be the priesthood, religious life, marriage, or the single life.

Chaplains under fire

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  • I had a priest tell me that since his ordination a little over a decade ago, there has never been as much fraternity amongst the priests as there was when the heart of St. John Vianney came.  I am continually meeting more priests around the archdiocese who are absolutely on fire for our Lord and want to spread the Good News to the ends of the world, or at least to all corners of the archdiocese.  It amazes me.  Things are certainly looking up, but they battle is not over yet.

  • If Fr. Erikson is “less chancery focused and more intent on the mission in the parishes”, I hope he has his hear to the ground in the parish he resides (Holy Name Parish/West Roxbury).

    The following is what passes for “mission” at Holy Name and appparantly is sanctioned by its Pastor, Msgr. Carlson as perfectly acceptable Catholic formation: 

    From the monthly newsletter of Holy Name School for March, 2007

    “Holy Name Parish School celebrated Catholic Schools’ Week January 28th through February 2nd. . . . On Tuesday, our Enrichment Program, “We Are All One,” was performed by Encore Productions.  Using Folklore and parables from traditional Muslim, Jewish, and Christian stories, the actor performed a unique restatement of the golden rule.  Values of cooperation and community were emphasized as stories celebrated diversity and freedom.”

    Comment:  Aren’t Catholic schools supposed to promote Catholic faith and Catholic identity in their students?  (Homeschooling instead of Catholic schooling may protect some children, but it doesn’t solve the problem of diluted Catholic identity in Catholic schools.)