Approaching Holy Week

We are quickly approaching the holiest week of the year. This year Easter has come so early in the calendar that it is hard to believe we are already poised to begin Holy Week!

Palm Sunday is always such a magnificent celebration, one that prepares us for all the events of Holy Week by reflecting on Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem and His passion. This year I will have Palm Sunday Mass at St. Mary Parish in Franklin, which is one of the largest parishes in the archdiocese. I am looking forward to being there with the people of Franklin.

On Saturday we will celebrate St. Joseph’s Day. The celebration has been moved this year from March 19 to March 15, the Saturday before Holy Week. I will be celebrating Mass with the Little Sisters of the Poor in Somerville. They have a very special devotion to St. Joseph who is a patron of their community.

St. Patrick’s Day will not be liturgically observed in the archdiocese, but we will mark it during the celebration of Mass on the Monday of Holy Week. The Mass will be held at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross at noon and some of the readings will be done in Irish, Irish songs will be sung and the shamrocks will be blessed and distributed. I invite all of you to join me at the Cathedral.

On Tuesday we have the Chrism Mass, which is probably the largest concelebration of the year because all the priests in the archdiocese are invited to participate in the blessing of the oils.

You are all welcomed to join me at the celebrations of Holy Week that will take place at the cathedral as follows:


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At the end of the month, the Office for the New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults, the Vocations Office and the Office of Campus Ministry are jointly sponsoring a eucharistic congress for young adults and college students. The congress will take place at St. Stephen Church in the North End March 28-29.


There will be speakers, adoration, a eucharistic procession through the North End and a service component as well. We are particularly encouraging the campus and young adult ministries to invite their constituencies to come to be a part of this wonderful event. The idea has been very well received, and we are hoping that we will have a good turnout.

For more information about the speakers, times and registration, visit their web site and also read the article that was published in this week’s Pilot.

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On Thursday of this past week, I had a visit from officials of the Missionary Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception. Sister Elaine Morzone, the mother general, is Australian. She is stationed in Rome but spends a great part of the year visiting the sisters in various houses throughout the world. She was accompanied by Sisters Jeanette Gaudet and Mairead O’Reardon, two council members. They were just passing through and came as a courtesy to say hello.


Sister Jeanette Gaudet, Sister Mairead O’Reardon and Sister Elaine Morzone

The order has sisters working in Papua New Guinea, and they know the Capuchin friars who work there. Their community is in many parts of the world.

They are the same sisters that run Mount Alvernia High School in Newton, which is a fine Catholic girls’ school here in the archdiocese.

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I also had a meeting with Father Joseph D. Calderone who was appointed interim president of Merrimack College in January.


The Augustinian friars founded the college at the request of Cardinal Cushing and it is such an important Catholic institution within the archdiocese. The Augustinians have had parishes in the Merrimack Valley for over a century. I was very happy to meet the interim president and to offer him our assurances of prayers and support as the university is looking for a permanent president.

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Last Friday, the directors of religious education had a Lenten day of prayer. As it was first Friday, we invited them to the Mass I celebrate every first Friday for the staff of the chancery. Afterwards we had a little coffee hour, and then I gave them a talk on the new evangelization. There were about 40 DREs in attendance.





The staff of our Religious Education Office: Pilar Latorre, Sister Clare Bertero, Susan Abbott and Susan Kay

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Later that day, I attended a groundbreaking for a low-income housing development for elders in Lowell. The Planning Office of Urban Affairs, in conjunction with the Grey Nuns, is working on the project, which will be next to the wonderful facility the Grey Nuns have there. Lisa Alberghini, president of the Planning Office, was able to attend.


Rep. Thomas Golden; Sen. Steven Panagiotakos; Lisa Alberghini, President of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs; Provincial Superior Sister Prescille Malo, SCO; Mayor Bud Caulfield; Taylor Caswell, Regional Director, US Department of Housing and Urban Development


We had a prayer service in the Grey Nuns’ chapel before the groundbreaking.



The chapel has beautiful stained glass windows


The local provincial of the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa, Sister Prescille Malo, is a real pillar of the community. She is the principal of St. Jeanne d’Arc School, involved on the board of All Saints Hospital and is very anxious for the charism of the Grey Nuns to continue. Even though there are fewer sisters, their mission to serve the poor and the elderly will be enhanced by this type of cooperation.



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On Saturday, which happened to be International Women’s Day, I attended a diocesan gathering for women who are considering religious life. The day of discernment took place at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Brighton.


They had it in the room they call the “penthouse,” which is up on the top floor and has a fantastic view of the city. Sister Marianne Batho organized the event, and many different religious communities were represented. The sisters talked about their different charisms.

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I attended a feast at St. Peter Parish in Cambridge that took place after their Mass to commemorate the Irish potato famine. At the annual Mass, parishioners received potatoes and shamrocks.


The parish was founded by Irish immigrants who fled the famine in the 1850s. Father Kevin O’Leary, the pastor, instituted this celebration, which is held a bit earlier than the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

The big dinner afterward was far from a famine with lots of Irish food. They also had entertainment, including bag pipers and the Irish Sopranos, a lovely trio of women.



The Sopranos sang traditional Irish songs and a number of arias from Italian operas. They also did a rendition of “Our Lady of Knock” which, of course, is one of my favorite hymns. Bishop Boles and his sister were able to attend, and everyone had a wonderful time.

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On Sunday, I attended the 125th anniversary Mass of Immaculate Conception School in Newburyport.


It was wonderful to celebrate the occasion with the priests and the school family. The children, wearing their school uniforms, brought the gifts up in the offertory procession and sang very beautifully. Their music program was very, very impressive.






After the Mass, there was a reception in the hall, and I visited with the confirmation class. It is a very large class, taught by one of our seminarians, Christopher Carmody, who is from the parish.



– – –

This week the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ administrative board met in Washington, D.C. I attended since I am the chairman of a new committee that has taken over the functions of the priestly formation, consecrated life and the diaconate. I am also part of the pro-life committee and the immigration committee. So I had three committee meetings plus the administrative board meeting. It was a busy week of meetings!

For the photo of the week, I have chosen this beautiful depiction of the crucifixion of our Lord taken at the Grey Nuns’ chapel. It is a timely reminder of the upcoming celebrations of Holy Week.


Until my next post,

Cardinal Seán

35 thoughts on “Approaching Holy Week”

  1. I agree 100% with Cardinal Sean in which Palm Sunday is a magnificent celebration of the year (especially how it prepares us for all the events of Holy Week by reflecting on Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem and His passion). I think it is wonderful that Cardinal had the chance to celebrate the Palm Sunday Mass at St. Mary Parish in Franklin, which is one of the largest parishes in the archdiocese. Once again, reporting from St. Paul School, I am Marissa, (see you soon). I hope to read your next blog soon!

  2. I am in total agreement with Cardinal Sean about Palm Sunday being a magnificent celebration. The mass is especially beautiful on Palm Sunday. It prepares us for Holy week and reflects us on Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem and His Passion. I would love to be apart of the Palm Sunday mass with Cardinal Sean. It would be so much fun to be there and enjoy everything that he has to say. I am a student at St. Paul in Hingham Massachusetts.
    ~ Kiana

  3. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    What an amazing blog! These blogs every week just get so much more interesting. It was great seeing the students bring up the gifts at mass on Sunday! Plus, seeing the balloons at the confirmation class party was really nice. I enjoy this blog every week! Again, I say i can’t wait for the next blog!


  4. Hi! It’s Susie of Saint Paul School Hingham.
    I think that even though Holy Week is very important in the church calender, I liked that youalso explained some of the feast days and special masses leading up to Holy Week. Such as St. Patrick’s day or Chrism Mass. Thank you so much for taking the time to post this blog.

  5. Hello, I am Colby of St. Paul School in Hingham.
    It was interesting to read about how St. Peter Parish in cambridge was founded. The celebration after dinner must have been exciting to watch as people played the bagpipes and as the Sopranos sung the song, “Our Lady of Knock”. Hopefully you get the chance to come visit us before we get out of school in June. God Bless.

  6. In Cardinal Sean’s blog, I enjoyed the part when he wrote about himself attending the Mass of Immaculate Conception School in Newburyport. I thought it was great how Cardinal Sean could celebrate a great Mass, and the children could participate. He wrote about how he met with the confirmation class, and about how he thought that the children did great in the Liturgy. He complimented the school children many times. That shows that he demonstrates God’s love everyday. He is a great role model for me, and all the other children at St. Paul School.

  7. Hi I go to St.Paul School. I think the photograph of the crucifix reflects really what we are celebrating in lent it shows how Jesus sacraficed his life for us so we could spend eternal life with him. We have a lot to be thankful for!

  8. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    I think that it is very important that people reflect on this week. Because like you said it is the most holliest week of the year. The fact that Jesus died just for us to go to heaven and that all sins be forgiven. I think its absolutly breath-taking. It’s amazing that you have all those Mass’s… You must be very tired. I know I would be! I bet you all those people in Franklin enjoy you serving the Mass. Our whole class enjoys reading your weekly blog! I can’t wait for your next blog!!!!!

    p.s. Our principal has hurt his leg. Could you please pray for him. I think he is a lot of pain! Thank you 🙂

    ~Caroline: A student at St.Paul in Hingham, MA

  9. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    This weeks blog was fascinating. My favorite part of this weeks blog was the part about the groundbreaking for the elders low-income housing development in Lowell. This was my favorite part because I think that the elders are not taken seriously in Scituate (where I live) and other towns in the area. I like to see when people are taking care of elders in their community. This project gave me some hope that the same thing will be done in Scituate or in other surrounding areas. This was a wonderful blog, I hope I will be seeing more that spread a simular messages to people.

  10. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    I think that it is pretty amazing that you are doing all those masses during Holy Week. It is great that you even have the masses in Spanish! I think it would be really neat to do masses in two different languages! Here at St. Paul school in Hingham, we are learning about Holy Week and the Triduum. I find it very fascinating to learn about Jesus and what he did for us. Thank you for writing such an inspiring blog!
    Have a happy Holy Week and a happy Easter!!
    ~ Megan~ ☺

  11. My favorite topic on this week’s blog was the emphasis on Holy Week. Here at St. Paul School, we are also honoring Holy Week by celebrating mass and performing the living Stations of the Cross, which are presented by our upper grades. My family and I also plan on attending all of the services given during Holy Week. So far I have enjoyed the Palm Sunday liturgy, which was very compelling. I also found it interesting to read about the Chrism Mass, and recalled it being mentioned by one of our priests at school. It would be fascinating to look into it more and I hope to do just that. Looking forward to next week’s blog, God bless.

  12. Hi, I’m Christian Leahy from St. Paul school in Hingham. What I enjoyed most about your blog was how you attended the low income housing development for the elderly in Lowell. I think this will help the poor greatly. I also would like to thank the Grey Nuns for running this project. Another thing I noticed was the picture of Jesus on the cross which made me think of all the harsh things he went through for people to go to heaven. God Bless!

  13. Hello, my name is Hugh and I attend St. Paul’s school. I wish that I could have been with Cardinal Sean as he traveled everywhere this week. I would have loved to have gone and been a part of the celebration, at St. Peter’s. I was very interested in the background of that parish. It must have been very entertaining to be able to feast on Irish food, while live music was played. Happy Easter!

  14. I enjoyed reading Cardinal Sean’s blog. It was very interesting to read about Holy Week because my class finished learning about it in school. Holy Week plays an important role in the Easter season. I liked comparing the facts that I learned in school to the new facts on the blog. I also liked reading about Cardinal Sean’s current events and where he is celebrating the masses during Holy Week. The newest fact that I learned about was the Chrism Mass. I remember when Father Chris, one of the priests at St. Paul’s Parish, had told my class about this Mass. I enjoy reading and learning about what the priest do during Holy Week. I would like to thank Cardinal Sean for mentioning Holy Week especially because it is so close in the religious calendar!
    ~ Kelly Callahan

  15. Cardinal Sean’s new Blog is great!!! Out of all he wrote about, I feel the picture on the bottom sums it all up. Jesus Christ died for us. I feel sometimes we forget that he did not have to do it. That picture reminds us that, during these days of the Triduum we have to pray to Jesus and thank him for all he did for us!
    -St. Paul Student
    Hingham Mass.

  16. Cardinal Sean gracefully took control of this busy week. St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s feast days being only a few days from Holy Week, the Cardinal had a very busy week! The Chrism Mass must have been a very beautiful service. Cardinal Sean is always visting and meeting people at various parishes, it’s no wonder Holy Week seems to have snuck up on us! I’m sure Cardinal Sean will deliver a beatiful Easter service.

  17. My favorite part of Cardinal Sean’s blog was when it showed the part on International Woman’s Day. I like it because I had never heard of this day until I read it on the blog. I thought that it seemed like a nice day , were many women could all visit the “penthouse” and talked about their different charisms.
    My favorite part of Cardinal Sean’s blog, is that I always know I will learn something new. That is why a make it a daily routine to check the blog for new subjects each week.
    Caroline J. St. Paul School

  18. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    This week’s blog was very interesting. I enjoyed reading about the 125th anniversary Mass of Immaculate Conception School. The pictures of the students are phenomenal! It is always great to see students from other schools in the Archdiocese of Boston. I would also like to wish you a happy Easter.Thank you very much for your blog. GBY!
    Caroline K.

  19. Holy week was very busy in the surrounding communities that Cardinal Sean visited. What interested me the most was his visit to St. Peter’s Parish in Cambridge. Father O’leary is the pastor. He used to be the pastor at St. Mary’s in Scituate and is a great friend of my family. He performed the funerals for both of my grandparents. Father Kevin always makes celebrations interesting and fun for all ages. He remembered the Irish potatoe famine and had a dinner with the Irish food and bag pipers. It sounded like a spiritual and fun time.

  20. Hello, I am a 7th grade student from Hingham, Massachussetts. I think that Saint peter had a very good idea about a feast after mass to commemerate the potato famine in Ireland. Ireland went through many years liveing in hardship because of that. It is also extremely intersting that people that fled from the famine are the ones that made this great feast. Also I know about the Sopranos, thay are excelent Irish musicians, and I am very familiar with their work. I wish you the best of luck on your next adventures, Cardinal Sean!

  21. I enjoyed how Cardinal Sean attended a diocesan gathering for women who are considering religious a life. I enjoy this because the fact that the population of Catholics are increasing. I also enjoyed reading about the Immaculate Conception School in Newburyport, because the school I attend ( St. Paul School).

  22. I never knew that there was a mass for the potato famine. I think it’s funny that they give everyone who attends a potato. It is a bit odd, however, that the mass celebrates the potato famine, but everybody gets a potato, and then they have a feast afterwards. I have a few interesting facts about Ireland here: During the famine, the people who didn’t emigrate ate grass. Also, there were plenty of other foods being grown, but the Irish’s oppressors wouldn’t let them have anything but the potatoes. A final fact is this: There are more people of Irish descent in New England than there are in Ireland! Have a great Easter!

  23. Bishop Sean,
    Would you please address the eulogy at catholic funerals issue? I have had the occurence of a 10 minute eulogy “prior” to the mass, this seems wrong, and also inconsiderate as this takes place during the regularly scheduled 9:00AM daily mass.
    Thank you

  24. The day of discernment, which took place at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Brighton, caught my attention the most while I was reading. All the Sisters where there to talk about their different religious communities. I can picture this as a beautiful gathering. To me, this is like many diverse religious communities coming together, to spread the message of Christ. I would be honored to be able to hear some of this information, at my school, St. Paul School, Hingham MA. Also, I bet the view from the “penthouse” was amazing, expessically since you are with wonderful people, who can experience it too.

  25. Dear Cadinal Sean:

    If you are ever elected Pope, would you continue to wear your Franciscan Habit or adopt the Dominican Habit of the Pontifical Office?

    God Bless,

  26. It is wonderful to read the activities of Cardinal Sean every week. I live in Arizona and I stumbled upon this website. I think the people of the Archdiocese of Boston are blessed. Thank you for sharing.

  27. Hi Cardinal Sean,
    I see your new assistant, Fr. Jonathan Gaspar, in these photos. Isn’t he a gem!
    God bless you both this Holy Week.

  28. Querido Padre Sean:
    Thank you for sharing every week your daily activities with all of us throughout the world. May God bless you! FELICES PASCUAS DE RESURRECION! When I see the many services that you will be holding for the faithful of Boston in this Holy Week, I just wish we had PRIESTS LIKE YOU HERE IN MEERHOUT! There are five parishes in our town, but for Holy Thursday en Holy Friday we have services in one parish for the whole town. On Holy Saturday there is the Easter Vigil at 7 p.m. in the main church, and on Sunday at 11 a.m. Please remember the Church in Belgium in your prayers, and especially our family.
    Paz y Bien,

  29. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    We want you back here in Washington DC. We will not stopping loving you here.

  30. Cardinal Sean it was an honor for my husband Ken, my son Ed and myself to meet you today at St Marys in Franklin. Have a blessed holy week and a wonderful Easter.

  31. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    I had the great pleasure of meeting Father Joseph Calderone after 46 years. Joe and I both graduated from Presentation BVM in Penn Wynne PA. in 1962. Merrimac had a fund raiser here at the City Club and Joe invited me. We had made contact by phone after many years when I was at St. Ann’s in West Palm Beach. It was a joy to see Joe again and I hope that the Auggies will keep up a prayerful presence at Merrimac. I had 8 years of Augustinian education at Malvern Prep and Biscayne College in Miami but never considered entering the order because I didn’t want to be a teacher. LOL, I taught for 19 years before entering the seminary and becoming a secular priest. I believe Fr. Joe will be a good president for Merrimac and as I told him forget abour interm. We all know how that goes. Continued blessings on your ministry and I miss our dinners at St. Ann’s. In Christ Peace, FrBrian Flanagan

  32. I love that photograph! It is breathtaking to imagine how dark those three hours were, and to imagine being one of the two thieves!

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March 2008