Cardinal Seán’s Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: March 7, 2008

Inner-City Scholarship Fund dinner

Hello again to you all. I hope you have been having a blessed Lenten season.

Friday evening I celebrated Mass at St. Mary Parish in Waltham for the Communion and Liberation family. Many people who are involved in the movement attended, including the Memores Domini — the members of Communion and Liberation who follow a vocation of total dedication to God while living in the world — the Priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of St Charles Borromeo and other friends of the movement.


Some of the friends of Communion and Liberation who attended the Mass

All those gathered were part of this wonderful charism that came to the Church through the life and vocation of Father Luigi Giussani, who died three years ago. We are blessed to have so many people who are living his spirituality here in the Archdiocese of Boston.


Seated are Father Jose Medina; St. Mary’s pastor, Father Michael Nolan;
and Father David Barnes.

Each year the local community holds a Mass near the date that Father Giussani died — February 22 — and the anniversary of their approval of their way of life by the Holy See, which happens to be the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes that we celebrate on February 11.


Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger, celebrated Father Giussani’s funeral and preached at it so,in preparing for this Mass, I reread his homily. I was struck by so many different things once again (it had been awhile since I read it) particularly the hunger for beauty in the life of Father Giussani that led him to that deep relationship with the Lord and his apostolic and missionary zeal.


Msgr. Giussani with Pope John Paul II in 1998

One of his phrases was, “Whoever does not give God, gives too little.” That is so true. Sometimes we think that other things are enough. The works of mercy, working in the paths of social justice and all these things are important, but if we are not giving people God and opening them to the transcendent, then we are not doing enough for them. I encourage you to read the homily of Father Giussani’s funeral Mass here.


The group was very attentive




It was a beautiful Mass, and I was glad to be able to celebrate it. The choir sang some beautiful Italian songs, Gregorian chant and four-voice polyphony. They have some wonderful musicians in their group and always have exquisite music. I am sure Father Giussani would have approved; he was quite a lover of good music!

– – –

The following day, I visited St. Agnes Parish in Arlington for the launch of the 2008 Catholic Appeal.


We had our kickoff press conference there as a way to showcase this very vibrant parish.


St. Agnes’ has a grade school, high school, social service agency and a huge religious education program.



The children performance was very inspiring


They certainly deserved an ovation

Their religious education program begins very early and uses the Montessori Method. They do some creative and interesting things at that parish.


Posing with the children together with St. Agnes’ pastor, Father Brian Flatley

This year the appeal office asked me to tape a homily that could be shown at the Masses throughout the archdiocese, and so I did that using the beautiful Mass readings of that Sunday. It was an opportunity to try to connect our support of the works of the Church to our Lenten call for sacrifice, conversion and generosity. Of course at the Mass that I celebrated for the kickoff, we did not show the film because I gave it in person. It may have been better on the film; I don’t know!

There was quite a crowd there for the Mass, and so they had Mass in the main church and also the basement chapel. There was not enough room in the main church, so they had two simultaneous Masses for all the parishioners.


– – –

On Monday, I met with the Liturgy Committee so that we could talk about the needs of the archdiocese, and we reflected on the importance of helping train our parishioners involved in liturgical ministries. We talked about the need for good liturgical music and also workshops to help priests and deacons to improve their abilities to preside at the liturgies. It was a very good meeting. They gave me a report on the revision to the archdiocesan guidelines that they have been working on and are almost finished with.



The liturgy is the center of our life as Catholics and so we are very grateful to have the expertise and the dedication of so many people on this committee who are anxious to help us to improve our execution of the liturgy to make it more meaningful and to help our priests in the parishes with the multiple needs that exist for the beautiful celebration of the holy Mass.


– – –

Every year sister Marian Batho, who is our Delegate for Religious, organizes a luncheon with the newly elected major superiors of women religious during that year.

So on Wednesday we met with them. This annual event provides an opportunity for me to greet the new superiors personally and offer my best wishes and congratulations as they assume the responsibilities of leadership.

During lunch, we spoke about the importance of the religious communities to the life of the Church of Boston.

This year we had two religious communities represented at the lunch, the Sisters of Notre Dame and the Grey Nuns.

From left: Sister Mary Boretti, SND, Sister Andrea Walsh, SND, Sister Mary Farren, SND, Sister June Ketterer, SGM and Sister Marian Batho, CSJ, our delegate for the religious

Founded by St. Julie Billiart “to make known God’s goodness, especially among the poorest and most abandoned people,” the Sisters of Notre Dame have educated countless generations of Catholics. The Sisters of Notre Dame continue to serve the Archdiocese in a variety of ministries.

The Grey Nuns, founded by St. Marguerite d’Youville to care for the sick, started Mary Immaculate Health Care Services in Lawrence and Youville Hospital in Cambridge. Covenant Health Care System was created in 1996 to sponsor the Grey Nuns health care ministries.

The sisters spoke about vocations to their communities and new ministries. The celebration of the Archdiocesan Bicentennial provided the opportunity to talk about each community’s beginnings in the Archdiocese.

– – –

The Catholic School Foundation sponsors an annual dinner for the Inner-City Scholarship Fund dinner. At this dinner, they raise about $7 million that is used for scholarships for low income youngsters to go to our Catholic schools.


Students helped direct guests to the dinner



Peter Lynch and I go to meet some the students from St. Marks before the dinner


The ballroom


Greeting John Fish

This year’s dinner was held at the Boston Copley Marriott on March 5. There were over 800 people at the dinner, and Boston Mayor Tom Menino attended. It was a great success, as always.


Mayor Menino with our new Superintendent of Schools, Mary Grassa O’Neil

In great part, the success of the evening is due to the dedication of Peter and Carolyn Lynch who work so hard to bring this about every year. They have been doing this for many, many years. Paul Birmingham started an effort that was taken up by Peter and Carolyn, they have followed through and have been so successful in raising this money.


Peter Lynch

The Lynches presented an award to the 2010 Strategic Committee, which is working to revitalize our schools by the end of the decade. Jack Connors, the committee’s chair, received the award in the name of John Fish and all the other members who have done so much to refurbish and strengthen our Catholic schools.


Peter and Caroline Lynch, Peggy Noonan, Mary Richardson and Jack Connors


Jack delivering his remarks

The keynote speaker for the evening was Peggy Noonan, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and well-known author. Her speech was very interesting and helpful to the cause of Catholic education. Earlier in the day, she had paid a visit to Cathedral Grammar School and Cathedral High School, where she met with students, teachers and staff.


Peggy Noon delivering her keynote address


Talking with Peggy and John Fish before the prgram

I was impressed and happy to hear Peter Lynch say in his public remarks that Peggy Noonan accepted the invitation to the gala with the condition that she would not receive any compensation for the appearance, not even for her travel to Boston. So her coming did not detract in any way from the money raised during the evening to benefits Catholic schools.

The dinner is always an opportunity for us to showcase different things about Catholic schools. Mary Richardson, from Channel 5 and the evening’s emcee, showed a video about a project that the station did to make improvements to St. Patrick School in Roxbury.


WCVB Channel 5’s Mary Richardson

The children from St. Mark School in Dorchester, under the very able direction of Mary Swanton provided entertainment. I addition to their beautiful singing, they played violins and tin whistles.




Then, there was a beautiful presentation from a young student at North Cambridge Catholic High School, Jennifer Etienne. She is a Haitian immigrant, and talked about the help she received through the Catholic Schools Foundation.


Jennifer Etienne


Jennifer with the Lynches and Peggy Noonan

That evening we also recognized our new superintendent of schools, Mary Grassa O’Neill, and we presented a bouquet and publicly acknowledged the fine work of our interim superintendent of schools, Sister Kathleen FitzSimons.


With Mary Grassa O’Neil and Sister Kathleen



Our Vicar General Richard Erikson delivered the final blessing


With Jack Connors, Peter Lynch, Peggy Noonan and Mayor Menino

March 2008