Celebrating Black History Month

Last Friday, I invited Metropolitan Methodios to come visit the Pastoral Center for lunch. It was his first time here. This year he is celebrating his 25th anniversary as the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Boston.  I look forward to going to his anniversary celebration on Spy Wednesday. Also, he will be visiting our cathedral on Holy Tuesday for the Chrism Mass.


During his visit he gave me a beautiful commemorative book that has been printed to mark the occasion.


Archbishop Methodios is a very close friend of the Church and it is an important relationship for us to foster in order to further Christ’s desire for unity within the Church.

One of the more recent milestones in that relationship was our September 2007 ecumenical pilgrimage to Rome, Istanbul and St. Petersburg.

2007-09-18- Pilgrim begin thier day of tours of the Vatican arriving in St. Peter's Square<br /> NOT BOSTON PILGRIMS.  TOUR GUIDE AND GUEST

In the Vatican


The metropolitan and I with several priests who on the pilgrimage outside the Church on Spilt Blood in St. Petersburg

Metropolitan Methodios and I led the trip of about 100 pilgrims which included members of both the Catholic and Greek Orthodox communities as well as several Catholic and Orthodox priests. It was a moving experience and there were many wonderful opportunities to pray together, to share our faith, and to learn more about the wonderful traditions of our Church that was one Church for the first thousand years of Christianity.

Cardinal O'Malley and Metropolitan Methodios visit the Greek Orthodox Church  in Rome, St. Theodore.<br /> Pilot/ Photo Gregory L. Tracy

Praying together at the Orthodox Church of St. Theodore in Rome

Cardinal O'Malley and Metropolitan Methodios visit the Greek Orthodox Church  in Rome, St. Theodore.<br /> Pilot/ Photo Gregory L. Tracy

It is our hope that, in the future, we will once again enjoy that same unity we had for the first millennium.


Touring the Haggia Sophia in Istanbul




On the international level, there has been a new patriarch elected in Russia and we trust that will also help to bring about advances in the process of working towards reuniting the Catholic Church with the Orthodox Church in the world.

– – –

That evening, I had dinner with the priests at St. Edith Stein Parish in Brockton: Father Brian Smith, Father Brian Flynn and Father Lino Pereira.

We took advantage of the dinner to present Father Brian Smith with his certificate for having participated in the Good Leaders Good Shepherds program. We have had about 50 priests involved in that program and it has been, by all accounts, an excellent tool in enhancing the ministry of our priests and their leadership skills.


Father Lino is a priest from Cape Verde who has been helping at St. Edith Stein. That parish has a very large Cape Verdean community. We are very, very grateful to Father Lino and his bishop for the many years he has spent working with the people there.

– – –

Sunday morning I met Bishop Gregory Mansour, of the Maronite Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn. He was in Boston for a celebration of the Feast of St. Maron at Our Lady of the Cedars Parish in Jamaica Plain. He came to pay me a courtesy visit along the pastor there, Chorbishop Joseph Lahoud.


Bishop Mansour and I have been together on a number of different committees at the Bishops Conference and we were very touched that he would take the time to come and say hello and allow us to be able to celebrate a little bit of St. Maron’s Feast with him.

Bishop Mansour is hoping to start a community of sisters in Boston, and we are encouraging him in his efforts to do that.

– – –

On Sunday, the Office of Black Catholics, in conjunction with St. Patrick’s Parish in Roxbury, organized a liturgical observance of Black History Month.


At the Mass, gospel music was showcased by the choirs and it was an opportunity to reflect on the growing importance of the black Catholic community — not just in our local Church but throughout the world.

The number of Catholics in Africa is very large and has experienced great growth in recent decades.  Our Holy Father will be visiting that continent very soon as a sign of the Church’s recognition of the importance of the Church in Africa.


I was very pleased to see that among the exquisite stained glass windows in St. Patrick’s one is dedicated to the baptism of the Ethiopian by St. Philip.  It is certainly an uncommon theme for a window and I pointed that out during the homily. I also pointed out the fact that, historically, the first personage to oppose slavery in his writings was St. Patrick.

Slavery, particularly in the United States, caused so much suffering to the black people and the legacy of that has been racism and poverty and discrimination that our black Catholics and black Americans have suffered with over their history in this country.

The election of a black president does mark an important advance in our culture’s evolution away from the racism that was so strong here historically.


Lorna DesRoses, the head of our Office for Black Catholics, did a wonderful job organizing the event and I was glad to see so many people there, including the Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver.

I was also happy to be able to concelebrate Mass with Father Russell Best who, because of health problems, was not able to continue at Cathedral High School but who is now living and helping out at St. Patrick’s.

– – –

The following day was President’s Day, so I took advantage of the office being closed to fly to Pittsburgh to attend the funeral of one of our friars, Father Marvin Justi.


Father Marvin, who was one of my professors in the seminary, was a man with great priestly gifts and was beloved by all. He was a man of such great charity and had the gift of communicating joy and a sense of God’s love for the people and he served in the seminary, as pastor and, most recently, as a hospital chaplain. In all of his ministries and in all of his religious life, he touched the lives of so many people and I was happy to be able to be there at his funeral.


The funeral took place in the Parish of St. Cecilia in Rochester. They built a new church there, because the old church was condemned and it was my first opportunity to see the new building. It’s a brand new church but built in a traditional style, with a lovely bell tower.



During my stay I also had an opportunity to meet with the novices there.


– – –

Tuesday, I went to Fontbonne Academy for a LIFT rally. This is my second appearance at LIFT.  For two years they have been meeting monthly at the auditorium of Fontbonne Academy.

LIFT with Cardinal Sean

LIFT with Cardinal Sean

LIFT with Cardinal Sean

LIFT with Cardinal Sean

It was a standing room only event, with young people gathered there for praise and worship, Adoration  and the Eucharist. It lasts from about 7-9 p.m. and is a very powerful prayer experience as well as an opportunity for faith formation for our teenagers and young adults. I was asked to talk to them about the saints and I talked for about 45 minutes on the role of the saints in our lives, mentoring us by their example and encouraging us by their friendship and their prayers to lead by discipleship.

LIFT with Cardinal Sean

LIFT with Cardinal Sean

I’d like to express my thanks to Father Matt Williams, who has been very instrumental in organizing and supporting the LIFT ministry.

– – –

Wednesday, we had the opportunity to celebrate the funeral Mass for Father Robert Tyrrell at his home parish of St. Agatha’s. Father Tom Foley gave a beautiful reflection on the role of the parish priest. Father Tyrrell’s nephew gave a lovely eulogy at the end of the Mass and the choir was spectacular, as always.


Father Peter Casey, the pastor at St. Agatha’s, was very pleased to show me the renovated downstairs chapel and hall. The last time that I was there was for Tom Flatley’s funeral and I had not seen the latest addition.

Until next week,

+Cardinal Seán

13 thoughts on “Celebrating Black History Month”

  1. From you I learned that Father Lino was a priest in the islands of Cape Verde.
    Sorry, I can see what the island, in which city it is the community?
    I often find there, and noticed that in Cape Verde, in fact, many churches. This is a positive moment in the history of the colonization of Africa. The first settlers brought with them the Gospel in that region. Since then, Cape Verde remains a Christian nation. Forgive me for my English

  2. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    The Archdiocese of Boston is advertising an upcoming symposium on adolescent catechesis. The poster proclaims that the speakers will enlighten and inspire those in attendance to “effectively transform adolescent catechesis and evangelization in the United States.” Pastoral associates, DRE’s coaches, and publishers are invited, along with a host of others who come in professional contact with teens. Absent from the list is parents. So, this raises a question: How can the archdiocese expect to effectively “transform” adolescent catechesis without parents?

    The archdiocesan contact person, whose name and phone number are listed on the poster, said that not including parents on the list was, “clearly an oversight”. I suggest that it is not clearly an oversight, but a reflection of a worldview and an attitude that has been prevalent in this archdiocese for decades now. The attitude is one of fundamental distrust of parents and disrespect for marriage. It leads to the faulty conviction that academic credentials and occupational titles are fundamentally necessary for catechesis. It strips parents of their God-given role. The message has been: Hand over your kids and we’ll educate them for you. It’s time to ask: Have the children been educated by catechists? Has the faith been passed down by these programs?

    The Catechism states, “‘The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute.’ The right and duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable.”

    I hope that the symposium on adolescent catechesis recognizes, in the content it delivers, the critical role parents play in the development of their children. Unfortunately, this recognition is absent in the promotional materials.

  3. Der Cardinal Omally,

    For an very special read, try the Biography of Fr Augustine Tolton, the first black priest in the US. He was from my home Diosese of springfielg Ill.

    A recent Saint (2002) is St. Josaphine Bakhita, A former Slave from Dufar province in Sudan. One day when she was dieing later in her life, some asked “how are you today”, she replied: I am as the Master wills.”

    Perhaps we should remember the many Saints of color during this month also.


  4. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    The Black History Month mass at St. Patricks must of been really nice. I think we have come a long way form being totally segregated and the Civil War, to now having a black president of the U.S.! I am proud of our country for coming this far.
    I aslo have a question. What is Spy Wednesday? -Just curious.
    -a student from St. Paul School, Hingham MA

  5. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    Thank for another exciting blog!! The Orthodox Church of St. Theodore in Rome and Haggia Sophia in Istanbul both looked beautiful. It must have been a wonderful experience. I can’t wait until next week’s blog!


  6. Eminent Father,

    Please know that I have prayed for the happy repose of the souls of Fathers Marvin Justi and Robert Tyrrell. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to do so.

    The election of a black president does mark an important advance in our culture’s evolution away from the racism that was so strong here historically.

    Perhaps this is true. Yet abortion, as we know, adversely effects, in this country, the black community more than any other group. In this sense, it could be argued that the recent election marks an major step backward in our evolution away from racism.

    Regarding the recent election, Dr. Alveda King said:

    “The battle for equal rights has reached a major milestone, but Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of full equality remains just a dream as long as unborn children continue to be treated no better than property.

    “We must pray with persistence and love that, in God’s time, what is now deemed unthinkable will become reality – that all our brothers in sisters, from conception to natural death, will be protected in law and welcomed in society.”

    “The elections are over. The pro-life battle begins anew.”

    God bless you.

  7. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    I enjoyed reading you blog this weekend. You have been very busy. My favorite article on your blog was about your experience at Fontbonne Academy for a LIFT rally. I think that this is a great way to worship and praise God. Every one should be able to experience a rally that is uplifting and spirited. I cannot wait for your blog next week.

  8. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    Hello, I am a student of student Saint Paul School in Hingham, Massachusetts. I greatly enjoyed your blog this week, it was wonderful! You sure travel a lot, you must love going to different places in the world, especially Rome! Well, i will look forward to your next blog. 🙂


  9. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    I enjoyed this week’s blog very much. I thought the pictures of the Haggia Sophia in Istanbul, the Church on Spilt Blood in St. Petersburg, and the Orthodox Church of St. Theodore in Rome were extremely beautiful and different from the churches I’ve seen. It’s amazing that you are able to travel to all of these places and visit these various kinds churches. Once again I am looking forward to your next blog! God bless.

  10. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    I really enjoyed your post on your visit to Fontbonne Academy. It was really nice to see everyone gathered together and singing. And it’s also inspiring to see they meet once monthly.

    Thank you,

  11. Father Marvin seemed to be known as a loveable priest and great man. My condolences to his family and friends.
    Thank you for providing such a great blog Cardinal Sean!

  12. My favorite part of this blog was the part about LIFT. I think it is wonderful how younger people are getting involved in the Church. I hope to hear more about this organization in the future!

  13. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    Fr. Gary Stakem told me that you were at Fr. Marvin’s funeral mass. My family and I payed our respects at St. Augustine’s. Fr. Marvin was well known to us at St. Joe’s in Cabot, Pa.(stone’s throw from Herman) and the stories he told us from the pulpit (and better stories when we talked aside) about his life will leave a lasting, warm memory. It is a joy to have the Friar’s serve us. God bless you in all you do. And, though your time is very limited, it would be a great pleasure and honor if you would visit us at St. Joe’s.

    Ernie Bragiel

Comments are closed.

February 2009