The International Eucharistic Congress

Hello and welcome back!

At the time of my last post I was in the midst of my trip to Quebec City to participate in the 49th International Congress on the Eucharist.

By last Friday we had just concluded the pre-congress symposium at which I gave an address. In case you missed my last week’s post, you can read the text of my talk here.

On Saturday, we went to have Mass at the motherhouse of the St. Jeanne d’Arc Sisters, the Sisters of St. Joan of Arc.


There are 106 nuns living at the motherhouse and the Mass was concelebrated by a number of missionaries, including a bishop from Santo Domingo. After the Mass, we had lunch with the sisters.


The sisters worked for many, many years in the archbishop’s residence and in the chancery in Boston. Cardinal Richard Cushing was a great supporter and benefactor of the community. They also worked in St. Anselm’s Abbey in Manchester, N.H.



They were also with me for 10 years in Fall River, so I was very happy to be able to go and celebrate Mass (in French, of course) for their community. They live very contemplative lives, praying for priests, for the Church. They offer daily holy hours for priests, and I used to enjoy being a part of their holy hour every Thursday night at 11 p.m.





– – –

The following day was the opening of the Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City. Quebec is a walled city and is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year, and the Eucharistic Congress is part of those celebrations. The events are taking place at the Colisée Pepsi.

We stayed in the Château Frontenac, which is a very historic hotel in the old city and located near the cathedral. Many of the great “glitterati” of the 20th century stayed in that hotel.


Château Frontenac

As a matter of fact, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt met there and planned the Normandy invasion in that hotel, and there is a monument to that in the hotel today.

At the opening ceremony there were a number of talks. First of all, the Cardinal Archbishop of Quebec, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, gave an address and welcomed everyone.


Cardinal Ouellett

During the ceremony, they brought in large figures representing the different saints from Quebec. I suppose you could describe them as something like big puppets.


There have been so many saints in the history of Quebec, beginning with the first bishop, Blessed François Montmorency de Laval., whom the university where the congress was held was named after.

I was very impressed by the individuals from the government who spoke at the opening ceremony with such eloquence about the Church with obvious affection and respect. First to speak was the mayor of Quebec City, Régis Labeaume, and the Quebec Minister of International Relations and Francophone Affairs,  Monique Gagnon-Tramble gave a beautiful address bringing in much of the history of the Church and the contribution that the Church has made. Then, the Minister of Canadian Heritage Josée Verner spoke beautifully about the faith, and he said the most multicultural group in Canada is the Catholic Church.

The conference’s papal legate was Cardinal Jozef Tomko from Slovakia. He recently retired from his post as President of International Eucharistic Congresses. He did a wonderful job representing the Holy Father.


Cardinal Tomko

He was a very good choice to send because of his great involvement in the Catholic missions. For many years he had been the Prefect of Evangelization of Peoples at the Holy See. In fact, Quebec — like Ireland and Belgium — has been a region that sent huge numbers of missionaries throughout the world.

The cardinal presided and preached at the opening liturgy, at which time he said to Cardinal of Paris, “I’m 84, not 23.” The Paris cardinal’s name is André Vingt-Trois, and “vingt-trois” in French means 23. And, of course, Cardinal Tomko is 84.

I knew Cardinal Tomko from when I was bishop in the West Indies. He named me visitator for some of the seminaries in the area. It was wonderful to see him.

Later there was a sort of cultural show by Gen Rosso, a performing arts group  from the Focolare youth.

After which the Gospel books were brought in, carried in on the Ark of the Covenant. In order to prepare for the congress, the ark had been circulated through all the dioceses of Canada at different youth rallies and so forth.

The Mass was concelebrated by 40 cardinals, 106 bishops and assisted by 12,000 people in the coliseum.




At the end of Mass there was a ceremony wherein a number of cardinals received the Blessed Sacrament to take to seven churches to be used for perpetual adoration during the week. Then, a huge wooden monstrance was placed on top of the ark and carried out by priests.



I told Cardinal Ouellet how moved I was at that sight because it reminded me of that passage in the Old Testament when the priests carry the Ark of the Covenant, and when their feet touched the Red Sea, the waters parted.

– – –

At the conference the following day, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. gave the first talk.


The second talk was given by Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche Communities. His father had been the governor general of Canada, and Jean Vanier represents those wonderful Catholic Quebecois families who were so dedicated to the mission of the Church. He gave a beautiful testimony about Christ’s presence among the poor.


Jean Vanier

The talk reminded me of Sen. Sam Brownback’s address to our lawyers at the Red Mass here in Boston last year. He said that 90 percent of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome while in the womb are being aborted. Jean is a man who has dedicated his entire life to serving, living with and forming community with adults with Down syndrome. He said he enjoys their friendship and sees Christ in them. People were very moved by his words.

– – –

Then, I returned to Boston and on Wednesday I met with Father George Agger, SVD, a missionary in Montserrat, which is a beautiful little island in the West Indies.


Father Agger came to thank me for the pews and other church furnishings that we are sending from Boston to Montserrat where two of the three churches were destroyed by volcanic eruptions there.

In fact, volcanic activity is very intense in the island. Recently, they evacuated the entire area for awhile, and now about 5,000 people have gone back. I was very happy that we were able to use some of our religious patrimony to support the Catholics of Montserrat.


An aerial view of Montserrat.
You can see the Soufrière Hills Volcano showing some activity

When I was bishop in the West Indies, we would often have meetings there on Montserrat. It was one of my favorite islands for many reasons. Historically, it is the island where many of the Irish indentured servants and slaves settled. They intermarried with the freed African slaves, so most of the people on the island are black with Irish names.  The national flag and coat of arms of Montserrat depicts a woman holding cross and an Irish harp and other flags you see flying everywhere have a big shamrock. They also have a St. Patrick’s Church.


Montserrat is one of those unspoiled islands with a lovely sense of community. There is little to no crime, and the people are so friendly. If you go down the street, everyone will wave to you from the houses.

– – –

Also on Wednesday, we had a meeting in Dracut about the charism of the diocesan priesthood. Father John MacInnis, Father Joe Fagan and Father Bob Blaney and I all gave reflections, and then we had a table discussion. It was very interesting, particularly talking about the charism and spirituality of diocesan priests. There was a wonderful cross-section of priests of all ages from throughout the diocese present. I am very grateful to Father Bob Connors for organizing this.

– – –

I attended the first meeting of the newly formed Religious Education Committee that will be studying the different books and materials that are being used in the schools and in religious education programs in the diocese as well as family religious education. We hope that through looking at all of this, we will be able to determine what programs and texts have been the most effective in communicating the faith. It is an ambitious undertaking, but we have a wonderful group of people assembled to work on this task.

– – –

And finally, I want to make mention of an event that took place earlier this month but I had been waiting for some photos to arrive. 

On Sunday, June 8, I went to Lakeville for a Mass at Sts. Martha and Mary Parish, where they were celebrating their 50th anniversary.

It is a lovely spot right across the street from one of the lakes. Father Francis Daley, the pastor there, is doing a wonderful job.


The parish has an outstanding choir, which parishioners are very proud of. I was absolutely amazed by them. The music was magnificent.



Congratulations to Father Daley and the parish as they mark this important milestone!

Until next week, blessings to you all,

Cardinal Seán

17 thoughts on “The International Eucharistic Congress”

  1. Wow, cardinals who blog. You guys certainly move with the times. I’m very impressed. When I think back to the 70s, our cardinals were far from being trendy.

    Good on you!

  2. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    Thanks much for the contents of your blog. I was particularly touched by your help to our dear Island, MOntserrat. Carry on the good work and know that I continue to be proud of you and my prayers continue to follow you.

    Jamaica is a big challenge to me not bieng a Catholic country. But you know I love challenges. Just finished a class of Adult Religious Education and I spoke about the Pauline Year to the students. Will appreciate anything on this, e.g. ideas regarding celoebrating it.

    Lovey, icm

  3. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    Yes, this is Lovey reacting to your website from Jamaica, W.I. Come September 15, I will be 3 years here after finsihing 9 years in Dominica.

    Congratulations for the wonderful work you continue to do for the Kindom! I continue to be proud of you and your ministry.\\

    Guess what? I am still strongly awaiting the day you will be our POPE.
    Carry on the good work and my prayers are with you.
    Grateful for your insightful words and the inspiration to move on in spite of the difficulties and social disorders here.

    Lovey, icm

  4. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    WOW, you have moved now to the South Shore and closed the Brighton offices. Apparently you are in the closing mode as yet 2 more churches have met their demise this past weekend. With a movement of a pen and no thought behind it, these wonderful ethnic structures are padlocked and shackled.

    In one case, Holy Trinity, here for more than a century and a half, is suddenly left to rot. The history and all the orations repeated over the years is now silenced. And for what? A lame excuse of shortages and logistics. And to please the Latin Mass community, you stick us in the basement of the cathedral? Yes, Christ was born in a stable and Fr. John Connoly, as if to paint a rosy picture, prays that we can grow and develop in new surroundings and become whole again. What were you thinking? Did you not see the tears and how distraught you have left the faithful? Did you not see media coverage of those fighting back tears as we are slapped in the face by one who is supposed to be the Good Shepherd of his flock? I do not see him here.

    I have the utmost respect for your office and the position you hold. My heart breaks and is heavy with such a loss. What gets me, there is no sound reasoning here. You never once spoke to this parish which is literally walking distance to your residence. I would have been more than happy to pick you up and bring you there. Instead, your henchman had the job a couple of years back to announce this closing. Your canonical lawyer who also mentioned that he had to close the parish of his grandparents!!! How does that look on his resume’?

    Shocked and appalled and so disappointed since the departure of Cardinal Law and your arrival here. Because of the horrendous sins of a few, the faithful must suffer.

    God help us,

    Joe Rizzo

  5. Cardinal Sean ,
    The “Call to Matthew” is direct and to the point. The call
    to follow Christ is also to all of us as mentioned in your blog. We all
    try to follow Christ in one way or another. It is good of you to remind
    us once in a while. Have a nice summer. I may see you occasionaly at
    the Cathedral.

  6. Cardinal O’Malley, I wish to appeal to you to reverse your decision to suppress Holy Trinity German Church. This church has been the linchpin of Western civilization in America, introducing Christmas customs such as the Christmas tree and the creche, along with great worship music. It should be allowed to continue and to flourish.
    Although I’ve never attended services there myself, I believe that its contributions to American culture are too beautiful to destroy! I beg you to reconsider closing the parish and reopen it so that the great traditions of Catholic worship and arts may continue to bring communities together in faith.
    Thank you.

  7. Dear Cardinale Sean,
    Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to attend Mass with the Pope and you at Yankee Stadium, truly a great event. So many people where impressed that I got tickets they thought I new you personnally. Thank you for making Bishop Dooher the South Regional Bishop, he is a wonderful priest and a great leader for the flock. I wish we could intergrate athletics,CYO, more within the parishes as I feel that our younger generation could become more expossed to God even if their parents or certain friends did not participate. I know when I was a teenager 45 years ago it meant a lot to be in CYO. God Bless Jim

  8. 6-29-08

    Muy recordado siempre en nuestras oraciones,
    en especial en dia de hoy.

    Maria & Emilio Biosca

  9. Thanks for your wonderful blog! I think it’s great that a busy Cardinal of our Church makes the time to have a blog to get in touch with parishioners, out-of-towners and distant brothers and sisters. That must be a first!
    I met you two or three times in Vero Beach, FL when you were still in Diocese of Palm Beach. You are in my daily prayers. Thank you again for your genuine example of humility to the world.
    Peace and Good!

  10. dear Cardinal Sean,
    thank you so much for always sharing on your blog page. you’re always doing so many interesting things and meeting so many interesting people. it’s very inspiring!
    this past 7 june 2008, i was at the Ordination Mass at the Monastery Church of the Sacred Heart in yonkers, ny, where i’ve been an active parishioner for almost the past year (it’ll be a year this august) anyway, the Mass was beautiful! and your homily was great and very inspiring! thank you! i wish you a peaceful and relaxing summer. may God bless you and give you PEACE! PAX ET BONUM!

  11. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    I LOVE your blogs. Thank you so much for sharing your busy life with us.
    I would have loved to go to Quebec, but it was not possible.
    I was thrilled to go with four others from my parish to the papal Mass at Yankee Stadium.
    Yesterday I attended the annual meeting of the World Apostolate of Fatima as a parish rep; one of our group is living with MS and is a constant reminder to us of someone who is doing his very best to live each day to the best of his ability. His name is Michael and I ask you to please remember him in your prayers.
    Thank you for all you are doing to bring us closer to Our Dear Lord Jesus.

  12. Your Eminence, do you have any photos or stories of the FSSP at the Eucharistic Congress?.
    They were a very important ministry in Quebec

    FSSP Eucharistic Congress in Quebec
    The FSSP at the International Eucharistic Congress in Québec:

    Between June 15th and 22nd 2008 in Québec, FSSP priests will propose Eucharistic devotions and lectures, as well as solemn liturgies. In particular:
    • Sunday 15th June: recollection for Confraternity members and other persons interested
    • Saturday 21st June, 10am, Pontifical High Mass by Bishop André-Mutien Léonard of Namur (Belgium), assisted by FSSP Superior General Fr John Berg.

    God bless you.

  13. 17 June 2008
    Your Eminence, please do not close the most holy church in South Boston: Holly Trinity.
    It is an atrocity against Almighty God and a sin against the poor of this parish.

    It’s not what you expect to see when you step into a Catholic church these days.

    Demurely dressed women in lace mantillas. A priest with his back to the congregation [Well… not really.. but okay.]: In nomini Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti, Amen.

    Bells ringing. Gregorian chant floating down from the choir loft. [Sounds good to me.]

    But here it all is at Holy Trinity German Church, on Shawmut Avenue in the South End, at the start of a sweltering Sunday.

    About 100 people from Bourne and West Roxbury and all over come for the 9 a.m. Latin Mass. They are men and women of all ages, Catholics convinced that their church made a big mistake when it did away with the Latin Mass. [WDTPRSers do not favor the term “the Latin Mass”, but let’s move along.]

    “I don’t get anything out of the [English] Mass,” says Kathleen Stone, 59, of Hull. “There is a lack of reverence. This is my time alone with God.” [I should hope she could at least get the Sacred Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ out of “English Mass”. Still, the way some Masses are celebrated, we can forgive the momentary lack of perspective. Also, the issue isn’t language. We don’t like “the English Mass” any more than “the Latin Mass” as a useful term.]

    This grand church is the perfect setting for a Latin Mass. [As so many of them were. Immigrants scrimped and saved, sacrificed deeply to build these beautiful churches, later treated with so little respect for the people who built them.]

    Incongruous in one of the few unprettified parts of the South End, its puddingstone and granite exterior is impressive enough.

    But walking through Holy Trinity’s doors will take your breath away. [“But Father! But Father!”, someone might be wondering, “Don’t you prefer one of these nice new modern churches? You know… the one’s that look like a bowling alley or a parking ramp?”]

    Light filters through huge, deeply hued, stained, etched, and painted glass windows. Enormous, hand-carved statues of the Twelve Apostles look down from the walls. Immense pillars hold up impossibly high, sky-blue gothic arches.

    Parishioners say it was mostly working people who scraped together the money to turn the church, which opened in 1877 to serve thousands of German immigrants, into a place resembling the ornate cathedrals they left behind, by cramming it with paintings and statues.

    But Stone and the others have just three Sundays left at Holy Trinity.

    The Archdiocese of Boston is closing the church June 30, partly because its congregation is too small to sustain it, officials say.

    Parishioners at Holy Trinity, like those in many of the churches that have been closed, are mighty angry. They are probably going to appeal the archdiocese’s decision. But the church closing isn’t the end of the Latin Mass in these parts. In fact, the Latin Mass is having a resurgence.

    The parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes in Newton offers Latin Masses now, and that is where some of Holy Trinity’s worshipers have already gone, reluctantly.

    Last year, Pope Benedict XV loosened the rules, allowing any church with enough support to offer Masses in Latin. [Actually, the provisions of Summorum Pontificum go far beyond that.] Four other local churches now have them, too, so the Latin Mass will survive this closing.

    Less certain is the future of that lovely church itself, designed and built to outlast all of the transformations within it.

    The Archdiocese has closed about 60 parishes since it began its consolidation four years ago. A few churches have been sold to other denominations. Some have been turned into housing, including condominiums. In the happiest cases, their windows have been pulled out and sent to other parishes, their statues and pulpits and stations of the cross scattered across the country. It’s too soon to know what will happen here.

    Susan Long saw her old church, the parish of Saints Peter and Paul on Broadway in South Boston, turned into condos, and she can’t bear the thought of the same thing happening at Holy Trinity, where she says the Latin Mass gave her a spiritual reawakening.

    “I was baptized there,” she says. “Now there are people sitting at a holy place smoking cigarettes.” [Does this not say it all?]

    We have paid a lot of attention to the communities like this one, broken apart by church closings, and rightly so.

    But sitting in Holy Trinity for an hour, imagining this beautiful place sectioned off for granite countertops and walk-in closets, you realize there are other casualties in this whole painful process.

    Like so many other churches representing the highest aspirations of long-gone Catholics, this grand, transcendent place may ultimately not transcend at all.

  14. Hi,
    I am from Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia. I would like to know when the 50th International Eucharistic Congress is being held and the venue, please?

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    God Bless,

    Kindest Regards,


  15. Dear Cardinal Sean, It was wonderful to get to meet you. Thank you for having a picture taken with my wife and her sister. Jim

Comments are closed.

June 2008