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Bishop Law visits Boston

By Betsy A. Lehman, Globe Staff, 1/27/1984

eclaring that he is "coming to establish my final home," Roman Catholic Archbishop-designate Bernard F. Law arrived at Logan Airport just after 10:35 this morning and was greeeted by civic and religious leaders.

He delivered a prepared statement after spending several minutes shaking hands with and speaking to Gov. Michael S. Dukakis; Mayor Raymond L. Flynn and his wife, Catherine; Massachusetts Senate President William M. Bulger; Massachusetts House Speaker Thomas W. McGee; the auxiliary bishops of the Boston archdiocese; representatives of Protestant, Orthodox and Jewish faiths and members of the black community, including US District Judge David Nelson and Henry F. Owens 3d, president of the Boston Chapter of National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.

The bishop leaned forward and spoke directly with each of those he greeted, often clasping them by the hand and arm, talking quietly and laughing with many.

In an aside before he read his brief statement, Bishop Law said he was "amazed at the weather in January in Boston " and, turning toward reporters, said, "By the way, Springfield (Missouri) is not the South. . . . We think of it as the West."

He expressed his "profound gratitude" at "being part of the Archdiocese of Boston." Directing his attention to officials seated behind him, he said, "The presence of each of you, representing as you do the civic and religious community of Boston, is beautifully symbolic of that unity in service which I pray will characterize my ministry in your midst."

Bishop Law drew applause and a burst of laughter when he said that the apostolic delegate "reminded me that after Boston, there is only heaven."

He thanked Bishop Thomas V. Daily, archdiocesan administrator, and the rest of the community: "I am profoundly moved by this welcome, and I look forward to coming back to stay later in March."

Applause rang out as the bishop was led to the Ionosphere Club in Logan's Eastern Air Lines terminal. He emerged about 10 minutes later.

In the hallway, surrounded by dignitaries, state police, reporters and photographers, the bishop picked up 4-year-old George Rosa of Revere and blessed him. "George represents the future of Boston," he said.

George, appearing shy and overwhelmed, was quickly led away to a motorcade by his mother, Linda Rosa, a Revere school board member who was part of the welcoming party. "I'm ready to cry," she said.

Walking out of the airport terminal, state trooper Hector Grazio smiled and said to a woman nearby, "He's down to earth; he needs to be a politician and be down to earth too."

Bishop Law was ushered to a late-model blue Pontiac, slipped into the front passenger seat and snapped on a seat belt.

After settling into the car, he opened the door and called to Sr. Mary Bernard and Sr. Genevieve, two Little Sisters of the Poor who were standing on the sidewalk. He shook their hands, smiled and said he hoped to see them soon.

Bishop Law was driven to Dorchester to view the remains of fire-ravaged St. Ambrose Church on Adams street in Fields Corner and to confer with its pastor, Rev. Paul Clougherty, and meet some parishioners.

"I hope it's not too long before I can talk to you inside," Bishop Law said as he emerged from the burnt-out church.

On Adams street outside the church, the crowd of parishioners, neighbors and reporters had grown to nearly 400. Some shouted "Boston Loves You," and several children carried a large hand-lettered sign reading, "We thank you for caring."

Bishop Law told the crowd that when he was a priest in Mississippi during a period of racial violence in the 1960s, "over 60 churches . . . were burned as a sign of hate and death. That death didn't win. The churches were rebuilt, and in the process, the community was closer than ever before. If that can happen there, I know it will happen here."

Pressing through the crowd, he said, "It's a great welcome. I'll have to come back to Dorchester soon."

Later, he ate lunch at the archbishop's residence in Brighton where he met with church leaders before holding a press conference at St. William's Hall in the archdiocesan complex.

The archbishop-designate was expected to fly out of Boston about 6:30 tonight to return to his current post in Missouri as bishop of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese.

His appointment to the Boston archdiocese was announced Tuesday morning in Washington by the Vatican's Apostolic Delegate to the United States, Archbishop Pio Laghi.

Bishop Law will be installed as archbishop of Boston on March 23 at ceremonies in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. The installation will be presided over by Archbishop Laghi.

Born in Mexico of American parents, the new leader of two million Roman Catholics in the Boston archdiocese attended Charlotte Amalie High School in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. He spent the years between 1948 and 1953 in the Boston area while a student at Harvard.

He also studied at seminaries in Louisiana and Ohio and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson, Miss., on May 21, 1961.

This story ran in the Boston Globe on 1/27/1984.
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