[Formal Opening of the House of Affirmation]
WHITINSVILLE – The House of Affirmation, a therapy center for emotionally troubled clergy and Religious, will be formally opened with a Mass of dedication at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow in St. Patrick's Church, followed by a benefit buffet at 2 p.m. at Pleasant Valley Country Club, Sutton.
Concelebrants of the dedication liturgy will include Bernard Cardinal Alfrink of Utrecht, The Netherlands; Humberto Cardinal Medeiros of Boston, Bishop Flanagan, and other ranking prelates and clergy. Bishop Alexander Stewart of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts will also be seated in the sanctuary.
John Cardinal Wright, prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy of Rome, who supported the local center in getting the Vatican's approval for its work, cannot fulfill his promise to assist at the formal opening because of pending Vatican activities, the center announced this week.
Cardinal Alfrink will be the principal speaker at the buffet dinner, according to Rev. Thomas A. Kane, executive director of the House of Affirmation.
A noted educator and Biblical scholar, Cardinal Alfrink is the 67th bishop of Utrecht and the seventh archbishop since the restoration of the hierarchy to The Netherlands in 1853. he is also primate of Holland.
Pope John XXIII named him a cardinal in March, 1960, the fifth cardinal in Dutch history.
As a widely-acclaimed scholar, the cardinal was the leading contributor to the official Dutch translation of the Gospel. His translations of the Epistles and Gospels are read every Sunday in the parish churches of The Netherlands.
Cardinal Alfrink was born in the village of Nijkerk in the central Netherlands on July 5, 1900, and his native village was only seven per cent Catholic. He was the first native of Nijkerk to be ordained a priest in modern times.
Following studies at the major seminary at Driebergen, he was ordained in the Utrecht cathedral on Aug. 12, 1924.
Post-graduate studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome, earned a doctorate in Biblican studies, perhaps the most difficult of all Catholic degrees to attain.
Returning to The Netherlands, Cardinal Alfrink served as a curate at Houten and Maarssen, before being named professor of Sacred Scripture at the seminary of Rijssenburg in 1933. he was named a consultor to the Pontifical Biblical Institute in 1944.
Promoted to the Catholic University of Nijmegen in 1945, the cardinal worked on the transplation of the office Dutch Bible.
Pope Pius XII created his coadjutor archbishop in 1951 to assist the ailing John Cardinal de Jong. Following Cardinal de Jong's death in 1955, Archbishop Alfrink succeeded to the See of Utrecht.
Within a month, he issued his first pastor letter – a sweeping survey of religious conditions throughout Holland – in which he warned that "there is no greater enemy of the Church and Catholics who disgrace their faith."
After five years as head of Utrecht archdiocese, he was named a cardinal. The archbishop of Utrecht is the ranking member of the Dutch hierarchy and Cardinal Alfrink also serves as military vicar of the Royal Dutch armed forces.
In the post-Vatican Council II era, the Dutch hierarchy and clergy have had problems with the conservative elements in the Roman Curia, the Vatican officialdom.
The famed "Dutch Catechism" brought forth world-wide reaction, favorable and unfavorable alike,'' he said.
Cardinal Alfrink once described the difficulties with Rome as attempts to correct a ship's course.
"If you find that a ship is off course, you can try to correct that course by a radar contact," the cardinal said. "A more drastic way is to fire a shot across its bows, but what they are doing now is firing a broadside at the shop. I find that a good comparison, though the Pope, of course, never wanted to fire a broadside at the ship. That is happened is the result of some measures of the Curia."
Only a 'Catholic'
Cardinal Alfrink has also been recorded as avoiding the "Roman Catholic'' label. "I much prefer," he said, "the word Catholic and then I think of that Catholic Church to which every one belongs who is following Christ."
In a 1972 biography of the cardinal, author Ton Oostveen quoted a protect by Cardinal Alfrink to the accusation of being "non-Roman."
"Everyone who knows me," the cardinal was quoted as having said, "know that I am very much a Roman. But they know that this sympathy, though a strong one, is not identical with blind love. Though I am a Roman, I am still more a Catholic."
The House of Affirmation, located at the former Lasell Estate on Hill street, began its ministry in September of 1973. Already, professional Religious from three continents and a number of countries have come to the therapy center which is an outgrowth of the Consulting Center for Clergy and Religious which was opened on Salisbury street in Worcester at the request of the Senate of Priests and the Senate of the Religious, with Sister Anna Polcino, M.D., as consultant. Fr. Kane, a professional psychologist and priest of the Worcester diocese, began work with the Worcester center here following completion of his graduate studies.
Dr. Conrad W. Baars, a native of The Netherlands, a practicing psychiatrist in Rochester, Minn., delivered a set of lectures at the center and the House of Affirmation is a direct result of discussion with Fr. Kane and Sister Polcino about the needs of troubled clergy and Religious, it was noted. Dr. Baars is now chief psychiatrist at the center.
Fr. Kane, Sister Polcino, a surgeon-psychiatrist, and Dr. Baars were founders of the therapeutic center which is to be dedicated officially tomorrow.
Tickets for the benefit buffet may be obtained at 201 Salisbury street, Worcester (757-3184) or at the House of Affirmation, 120 Hill street, Whitinsville, Mass. (234-6266)
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