Beginning the New Year

Happy New Year to you all!

Each year we have a holy hour and a Mass on New Year’s Eve as a way of ending the old year and beginning the new. It is a custom that I have observed every year since I was ordained a priest. In fact, when I was in the West Indies, it was the biggest celebration of the year — people could not fit into the churches; many were outside looking in the windows.



When I came to Boston I was very pleased to see that the tradition was already in place here. Of course, I have been pleased to be able to continue it.


Beginning the Mass


Delivering the homily

The Pro-life and Young Adult Offices have been key sponsors of this Mass and the holy hour often has a pro-life theme. This year the theme was centered around the vocation of marriage as part of the marriage initiative currently underway in the four dioceses of Massachusetts. It was our pleasure to hear two testimonies on the vocation of marriage.


It seems to have been a late night for some of the little ones


Marianne Luthin, director of the Pro-life Office, as awlays, worked very hard to prepare the event, which was held at St. Mary Parish in Waltham. We are also very grateful to Father Michael Nolan and his parishioners for hosting the Mass. After the Mass, they served coffee, cookies and things, and people had the chance to socialize.


The church was decorated with these manger scenes created by the parish children set in small models of St. Mary’s


There was wonderful participation; the church was filled. Those in attendance were a wonderful reflection of the diversity of our archdiocese. There were African, Syro-Malabar and Hispanic Catholics. The congregation was young and old. I was also pleased to see many of the seminarians were there.



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Another tradition I have maintained since arriving in Boston is celebrating a Mass on New Year’s Day with the Haitian community. Jan. 1 is their Independence Day, and the Mass is an opportunity for them to gather with their bishop at the cathedral. The Mass was celebrated in Creole and French, the languages of the Haitian people.

The Mass has always been a very beautiful celebration and as usual, the choirs were wonderful.

Father Gabriel Michel is the coordinator for the Haitian priests, and there were many priests, seminarians, religious who came. The cathedral was quite full.

One of the beautiful customs of the Haitian people is eating pumpkin soup as a sign of their liberation on New Year’s Day.


The Haitian community is a very important part of our Catholic community in our archdiocese, and their Haitian Catholic Center is doing very well.

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On Thursday I celebrated a Mass with the residents of Regina Cleri, the retirement residence for priests in Boston.


The outside of Regina Cleri


A stained glass window of the chapel where we celebrated Mass. St. John Vianney is the patron saint of priests



Bishops Edyvean, Dooher, Boles and Hennessey were able to join us for the Mass
The auxiliary bishops, vicar general and some of the priest in ministerial and priestly services always make an effort join us for the Mass which is celebrated around Christmastime.




Msgr. Jim Tierney, Director of Regina Cleri proclaims the Gospel



Our Vicar General, Father Richard Erikson, exchanges a sign of peace with one of the residents




As in past years, Msgr. Frank Strahan shared his great talent by leading the singing at the Mass

This year, the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master had decorated the chapel so beautifully — the crèche and the altar. I told them that every year the chapel seems to be decorated more splendidly.


Following the Mass I had an opportunity to greet and chat with some of the priests before sitting down to a very festive meal — a turkey dinner that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.




Saying grace


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Sister Olga Yaqob has recently been on a visit to her native Iraq and has been able to visit some family and friends along with American troops. Her visit began on Dec. 16, and she is scheduled to come home sometime this month.

In the meantime, she sent us back some photos.


She took with her a statue of Our Lady of Fatima and presented it in the nunciature


This photos shows her meeting with the chaplain, who happened to be a Franciscan, and three of the servicemen who are from Boston

We pray for sister’s safe passage and that she returns to us soon.

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Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to comment on the very encouraging advances in stem-cell research that does not involve immoral methods or the destruction of human embryos.

In light of the latest discovery employing adult skin cells, the bishops of Massachusetts issued a statement calling on the governor and our leaders in the Commonwealth to look carefully at these advances. We want to avoid putting all of our resources in methods that are immoral and have been unproductive.

We see here how faith and reason always coincide. Some people think that there is a contradiction, but as faith illumines reason, it leads us closer to the path of truth.

We hope that the statement will have some impact on the government and help educate people as to what is going on. The Church is not indifferent to the suffering of people with Parkinson’s Disease, diabetes and so many other terrible diseases. Indeed, we are anxious for cures to be discovered. However, we are convinced that whatever we do, it must respect the dignity of human life and the human person. It should never turn human life into some sort of commodity that can be used to make medicine. And if we follow moral and humane procedures, then we will find the cures that we are all longing for.

I’d like to share with you now the statement which I issued jointly with my brother bishops of Massachusetts just before Christmas:

As the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Massachusetts, we applaud the recent stem cell announcements from Japan and Wisconsin. Researchers have confirmed that pluripotent stem cells can be created without need of cloning and destroying human embryos. Scientists agree that the new techniques offer real promise for finding cures.

The approach taken in the new studies avoids the moral objections associated with research requiring the destruction of human embryos. That unethical practice disregards human life and has not produced a single clinical benefit. Instead, the groundbreaking discoveries advance both science and ethics.

In light of the exciting developments in the stem cell field, we renew our call for the promotion of biotechnology in the Commonwealth that abides by the highest ethical regard for the sanctity of human life. The recent advances show that good science and respect for life can work together.

Stem cell legislation filed in the State Legislature by the Governor, similar to other bills filed by various legislators, proposes public funding to promote experiments fatal to human embryos. These experiments are performed on embryos to acquire stem cells that the new studies now demonstrate can be created through ethical means. We continue to oppose this legislation in its current form as unjust and unnecessary. We ask the Legislature to craft stem cell legislation promoting only research that respects human dignity.

Moreover, there is a rush to enact this legislation within the next few months. We urge our elected officials to conduct the legislative process at a more deliberate pace. This would accommodate full consideration of the new research findings and their bearing on the misplaced priorities currently endorsed by the Governor’s stem cell legislation and its companion bills. With so much at stake, careful assessment and not haste, is in order.

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For the photo of the week, I have selected this photo from my visit Thursday to Regina Cleri. Two days before the Mass, I had been at Regina Cleri for the wake of Msgr. William Granville. One of the roses from monsignor’s funeral arrangements had been placed next to the Christ Child in the crèche at the side of the chapel for the Mass.


Until next week, blessings to you all,

– Cardinal Seán

12 thoughts on “Beginning the New Year”

  1. Cardinal Sean – Hello. While doing some research on-line about St. Fidelis in Herman, Pa, I noticed you gratuated from there. I had 3 uncles gratuate from there in the 70’s and had planned to attend myself but the facility closed before I was of age. I lived the first 28 years of my life on Chicora Road (Route 68) just 5 miles from St. Fidelis and have lived the last 10 years in Northeast Ohio. I currently run a local movie theatre chain in Cleveland. I find your blog very interesting and from all I have read you are doing an incredible job in the Boston area. I will pray for the continued success of your diocese.

  2. Cardinal Sean–Thank you for putting the beautiful pictures of Regina Cleri residents on your site!! I am so happy that I decided to ‘sign in.’ My uncle, who died at Regina two years ago, loved the place, and especially, the people. We still miss him so much, but we are so grateful that he had people who loved and cared for him so tenderly. What a wonderful treat to see their pictures. Again, thanks to you for your service, and to the staff at Regina, for all that they do for the men who have given their lives for God’s people.

  3. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    I am a current senior at Boston College High School. As an aspiring worker in the field of medicine, I find the Church’s response to the new developments in regards to biotechnology to be heartening. These adult stem cells can eliminate the need for embryos and have potential in both the field of medicine and ethics. The response from the Church also demonstrates that science and faith can coexist. I hope that the Church will continue to support developments that are beneficial to people, as long as these developments continue to respect the dignity of all human lives.

    Bohan Liu

  4. Cardinal Sean – I want to send my best wishes to you in the new year. I hope and pray that this will be the year that troubled parishioners of recently closed churches will find peace with the Archdiocese so that there will be one less distraction for you and your staff during these difficult times.

  5. Cardinal Sean – ditto Feitelberg. A candle burns in our window for you in the fullest Irish tradition.

  6. Cardinal Sean–Greetings and Blessings in this New Year to you for all you have accomplished for RCAB

  7. Cardinal Sean,

    We the faithful are so indebted to courageous leaders of our Church such as yourself. I thank you for your witness to charity, to compassion, to truth. Thank you for standing up for the sanctity of all human life, our most precious gift from God. Thank you for echoing in your actions the words of Our Blessed Lord, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (Jn 10:10).”

    I pray through the intercession of Our Lady that this year will awaken in the hearts of every man and woman a new reverence for all human life, for the need of a consistent ethic of life which protects life from conception until natural death. My own home state of New Jersey has finally outlawed the death penalty, and you have written well of the exciting new stem cell opportunities, and the miracles of ultrasound technology and the availability of it are causing an awakening as to the reality of human life in the womb. Please, Cardinal, continue to stand up for life, continue to stand up for Christ, for it is the likes of you, my own Archbishop, Justin Cardinal Rigali, and many other soldiers of love, including our Holy Father, who will lead this Church to greater conformity to the Sacred Heart of Jesus , through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. God bless you!

  8. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    Do you know the story of how pumpkin soup came to symbolize freedom?

  9. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    Happy New Year to you too.
    I would like to take this time to Thank you for celebrating the New Year’s day Mass at my Parish in Waltham.It was a beautiful celebration,very joyful.I’m just sorry I missed out on the happening after the mass.I would have loved to have met you.You are always welcome at Saint Mary’s.Please do come again.
    Thank you also for creating this blog with such great information and beautiful pictures.
    May God Bless you,Olga

    For whom cry.
    For whom is without home,food,shoes.
    For whom live in the war.
    Because GOD is with them

    Massimiliano Scio’ Rome Italy

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January 2008