Entering into Lent

Welcome back!

As we start the Holy Season of Lent this week, it is important that we try to use this period as a time to focus on our relationship with God and with others, and to draw closer to the Lord through availing ourselves of the Sacrament of Confession, acts of mortification and in general giving more time to prayer, reflection on the Word of God and fidelity to the Eucharist.

Mass and imposition of ashes, Feb. 25, 2009, Ashe Wednesday, Archdiocese of Boston Pastoral Center.<br /> Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

– – –

On Monday it was announced that the Holy Father had appointed Archbishop Timothy Dolan as the next Archbishop of New York.


We join our prayers and best wishes to the millions of Catholics who rejoice at the news that Archbishop Dolan has been named the new shepherd of the Archdiocese of New York. He brings substantial experience, a winning personality and keen talent to this very important post in the life of the Church. May the Lord bless Archbishop Dolan with much wisdom, good health and great joy in his service of God’s people.

The day following the announcement, I was able to speak with Archbishop Dolan in Milwaukee to congratulate him on his appointment. (I reminded him that my grandmother is a Dolan, so we are probably related!)

We had a wonderful conversation and I was able to say how happy I am for the people of New York. He said he is very much at peace with this assignment and looks forward to his new duties with enthusiasm.

I assured him of my prayers and the prayers of the Catholics of Boston.

– – –

This week I also had the opportunity to welcome the new president of the St. James Society. Father Kevin Hays, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, has been with the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle for about 12 years in Peru, and is replacing the society’s out-going president, Msgr. Finbar O’Leary.

I would like to express our thanks to Msgr. O’Leary for his many years of service and wish him God Speed and blessings as he returns to Latin America.

His goal is to establish L’Arche’s Communities there for adults with Down Syndrome and people with developmental disabilities. I’m sure this will be a unique and extraordinary contribution to the life of the Church in Latin America.

I enjoyed meeting Father Hays who came to meet with me at the cathedral along with our own Bishop Robert Hennessey, who was a missionary in Bolivia for many years as a member of the St. James Society.


Father Hays and Bishop Hennessey

The St. James Society was a Boston-born initiative, instituted by Cardinal Cushing. In the recent past I have invited United States’ bishops to allow their priests to be a part of the Society for missionary experience. Historically, Boston and Ireland have been the strongest participants, but today we are also getting a number of priests from England and other dioceses in the U.S. to participate as well.

– – –

Last Friday I had the opportunity to visit with all of the major superiors of the communities of women religious serving in the archdiocese at the Pastoral Center. It was an opportunity to thank them for all of their work and for us to share information about the ministries and life of the different communities with each other.

 Cardinal Sean O'Malley meets with Major Superiors of Women Religious at the Pastoral Center Feb. 20, 2009.<br /> Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy


Cardinal Sean O'Malley meets with Major Superiors of Women Religious at the Pastoral Center Feb. 20, 2009.<br /> Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

Among the sisters who made their reports was Sister Fanduca, from the Irmãs Franciscanas Imaculada Conceição, which is a small Cape Verdean community that has been working in the archdiocese for many years, both in Roxbury and in Brockton. We wish them many blessings, as this year is their 50th anniversary. We were happy that they were able to make their report; they made it in Portuguese and the sisters were all very supportive of them.

– – –

That evening we met with a small group of seminarians at the Cathedral, something we have been doing for some time now; we meet for Holy Hour and dinner followed by a time of conversation.



It has been a wonderful opportunity for me to get to know the seminarians better and to bring together those studying at St. John’s and Blessed John. It was a delightful evening. The rector of the cathedral, Father Kevin O’Leary, is always a very gracious host and we are very grateful for what he does to support these activities.

– – –

Saturday morning, we had the annual convocation of permanent deacons and their wives at St. Patrick’s in Stoneham. St. Patrick’s is such a beautiful venue and it was a magnificently sunny day.


Father Bill Schmidt, the pastor there, has done an extraordinary job renovating the parish, and the music was very well executed, as always. I celebrated Mass and then we had lunch with the deacons.


Father Joe Arsenault gave the keynote speech. He had been a permanent deacon here in the diocese for around 20 years after studying at Blessed John and was just was ordained into the priesthood last May.


I also addressed the deacons after lunch, briefing them on the new initiatives taking place in the archdiocese. It was a nice day to be together with them and an opportunity for me to thank Deacon Leo Donoghue who is leaving his position as head of  the Permanent Diaconate Office and also welcome Deacon Dan Burns who will take over for him. 


– – –

After the deacons’ convocation, I stopped by St. Mary’s in Dedham to visit Msgr. Thomas McDonnell who is very ill and had a wonderful conversation with him. He is receiving very good care from the pastor there, Father Bill Williams, and all the priests and parish staff.

Msgr. McDonnell is a great and prolific writer. For years he has been writing beautiful spiritual reflections for The Pilot on Lent and Advent.

I asked him if he had his next series ready and he told me he did. He also showed me a new apparatus that they brought him so that he can dictate to his computer.  He is a brave man!

– – –

On Sunday we met at the MIT chapel with the local members of Communion and Liberation.

The previous day had been the anniversary of the death of their founder, Don Luigi Giussani.  Every year, around that date, Communion and Liberation members organize a Memorial Mass in the dioceses in which they’re working. This year, we were invited by Father Richard Clancy to have the celebration together with the Sunday Mass celebration at MIT.



We are very blessed in the diocese to have members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo,  which is the priests’ branch of CL; as well as the Memores Domini living in the North End, who are the consecrated laymen; as well as the people who belong to the movement — both married and single.


In my homily, I quoted from the then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s homily at Don Giussani’s funeral Mass at the cathedral in Milan. He was an extraordinary priest whose ministry to high school and college students blossomed into this ecclesial movement that has touched so many lives and given them the spirituality and energy for evangelization.  It has been a great grace for the entire Church.

– – –

On Monday, I met with a number of local Jewish leaders and Holocaust Survivors who shared with us their concerns at recent developments that affect Catholic-Jewish relations, including the Holy Father’s lifting of the excommunication of Bishop Williamson, a lefebvrite bishop who made public comments minimizing the extent of the Holocaust.

Father Ed O’Flaherty and Father David Michael from our Interreligious Affairs Office and Father Bryan Hehir accompanied me to the meeting.

We met with representatives of the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and other organizations. I was particularly impressed by the witness of two Holocaust survivors present, Israel Arbeiter and Steve Ross, who is the father of Steven Ross, the president of the Boston City Council. They spoke very eloquently of the horrors that they experienced on the death camps.

The meeting gave me an opportunity to reassure them that the Catholic Church repudiates any attempt to minimize or deny the Holocaust.

I also told them of our plans to move a Holocaust memorial menorah that is currently at the old chancery grounds in Brighton to the Pastoral Center in Braintree, and to have a rededication ceremony.

The next day, I spoke with Cardinal Walter Kasper, who is the pope’s representative for issues related to interreligious dialogue with the Jews, and he gladly agreed to attend the rededication ceremony that will take place on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25.

At the meeting, I also mentioned that we look forward to the Holy Father’s upcoming visit to Israel in May as another opportunity for the Holy Father, on behalf of the Catholic Church, to assure people of our repudiation of these Holocaust denials and an opportunity to express, once again, the special relationship of friendship that exists between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people.

– – –

Tuesday was the reopening of Catholic Charities’ Teen Center at St. Peter’s in Dorchester.





blessed the center during the rededication ceremony

The Teen Center has been such a positive influence in that neighborhood and now — with the support of St. Peter’s Parish, Catholic Charities and The Catholic Schools Foundation, using resources and the support of the Yawkey Foundation — they were able to carry out these magnificent renovations for the young people there.


The new computer center




The renovated recreation and game area


The basketball court


The Connors Family Resource Center



I was delighted to see how many people attended the dedication ceremony, including quite a number of public officials and local area police officers.


Their presence indicates what a precious institution the Teen Center has become in that neighborhood, particularly in dealing with the very serious problems of violence and the terrible history of teen violence there.




Mayor Menino presented Paulo with a painting the decorate the center


M.L. Carr, who is helping the center with his WARM2Kids program, presented Jack Connors with an award for his contributions to the program.  Apparently, Jack felt a little “height challenged”


CCSGroup3_CCS_Group2_1  The staff of the Campaign for Catholic Schools

This center gives them the opportunity for recreational, cultural and educational services and also instills in them a sense of responsibility as the older teens help the younger ones.


For years, the Teen Center at St. Peter’s has been a wonderful atmosphere where young people can come and feel safe and feel part of the community, providing support to them and truly a source of hope for these young people.


We are very grateful to everyone who contributed to making these renovations possible. I am very grateful for Brother Tino, Father Dan Finn, Paulo De Barros, Vivian Soper and all of those who have historically been so supportive of this very important work of the Church in that area of our city.

– – –

This Wednesday we celebrated Ash Wednesday at the Pastoral Center with a noon time Mass. I was glad to see the chapel filled with staff and others who joined us for the event.

Mass and imposition of ashes, Feb. 25, 2009, Ashe Wednesday, Archdiocese of Boston Pastoral Center.<br /> Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

Mass and imposition of ashes, Feb. 25, 2009, Ashe Wednesday, Archdiocese of Boston Pastoral Center.<br /> Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy


Mass and imposition of ashes, Feb. 25, 2009, Ashe Wednesday, Archdiocese of Boston Pastoral Center.<br /> Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

Mass and imposition of ashes, Feb. 25, 2009, Ashe Wednesday, Archdiocese of Boston Pastoral Center.<br /> Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

Mass and imposition of ashes, Feb. 25, 2009, Ashe Wednesday, Archdiocese of Boston Pastoral Center.<br /> Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

Lent is a very special time in the life of the Church and in the life of each Catholic. The fact that so many millions of people feel a need to present themselves for ashes, I think, is a sign of the hunger that people have for God. We must not allow our Lenten experience to be simply the ashes. That must be simply a recognition of our mortality and our dependence upon God. Our destiny to live with God forever and our life of the resurrection must begin now in our lives with discipleship, in the way we follow Christ into the desert for 40 days.

Until my next post,

In Christ

Cardinal Seán

29 thoughts on “Entering into Lent”

  1. Cardinal Sean, I enjoy your blog very much and thank you for communicating with us this way. My editorial comment on the last photo on this blogpost: Might that young woman receiving ashes have given a ;little more thought to her clothing? I find it a bit disturbing that many young (and not so young) women wear rather revealing clothing to church. Is this young lady really oblivious that her clothing is showcasing her bustline? Or does she know that but doesn’t care? Why would anyone wear alluring or distracting clothing to church? If there was ever a time and place to dress modestly and respectfully (for self and others, including priests), church is it!

    The Catholic catechism has a terrific explanation of modesty, what it protects and preserves, why it is so valuable. We Catholics would do well to reclaim that virtue.

  2. Wow, very interesting post and wonderful photos, I cant even think, that I found such information, I think this event was very important for everyone.

  3. Cardinal Sean, I wonder if you were aware that there’s a traditional Latin Mass offered at your Cathedral every Sunday. Is it possible that you yourself will celebrate an Extraordinary Rite Mass any time in the future?

  4. dear cardinal sean,
    this weeks blog was great! i loved the renovations at the teen center. this weekend, i went to snowcamps. you might have heard of it but if not, its this great three-day camp were you have an awesome time and learn about God. C.A.M.P.S stands for christ as my personal savior. it was really good to be around people who are so in love with jesus. it taught me a lot and i recomend it to everyone.
    -shannon m
    P.S hope to see you soon!

  5. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    This past weekend I attended a religious retreat in New Hamshire called Snow Camps with two other classmates. My experience there taught me how much God loves us and how He sent His only son to die for us because He loves us. It taught me that God wanted us to go to Heaven so badly that He sent His son down so we could go to Heaven. My time at Snow Camps also allowed me to become closer to God and it helped me realize that God loves me and that I should try to think about my words and actions before I do them.

    Jenna Gibbons
    Saint Paul School

  6. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    Give my thanks to Archbishop Timothy Dolan who became the next Archbishop of New York. That must have been a very special time for him and a great honor. We got ashes on our heads on Ash Wednesday at church during school. I hope you can visit us sometime here at St. Paul School.
    Mikayla McGrath
    St. Paul School
    Hingham, MA

  7. Hi, Cardinal Sean.

    This week’s blog was very interesting. I was glad to see that The Teen Center was renovated so beautifully. I’m sure that the kids there are having an even more wonderful exprerience now.

    Over this past weekend I was in New York for my cousin Julie’s baptism. It was a great celebration. Before the baptism at Sunday Mass, there was a big styrofoam cross that had a basket of little wooden crosses next to it. What we were to do was to give our cross a “name” for something difficult in our life (an addiction, faith issue, health problem, etc.), and then stick it in the styrofoam cross. In doing so, we were carrying our cross throughout the Lenten season, and at the end of Lent at the Easter Vigil, they would burn all the crosses. I thought this was a wonderful exercise, and would help us get closer to God during this season of Lent. I used a few crosses, naming them things such as “temptations”, “stress”, and even “homework”. It was a very nice thing to do, and I think it will help me get closer to God as I try to carry these burdens.

    I hope you have a great week! Thanks you for a great blog!

    -Kate K
    Grade 7
    St. Paul School, Hingham MA

    I hope you come to visit our school soon!

  8. Hi Cardinal Sean,

    This weeks blog is great! Im so excited that the season of Lent is beginning. Lent is a great time for us to become closer with God and help others in need. Im also very happy to hear about Archbishop Timothy Dolan.
    I hope you visit our school soon!

    Deirdre Gill
    7th Grade
    St. Paul School

  9. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    I enjoyed reading your blog this week. It is always very interesting to see how your week has been and all the activities that you do. The teen center program looks very helpful to people.

    Beat Wishes,
    Lindsey, seventh grade at St. Paul

  10. I engoyed reading your blog this week. Im also happy to hear about Archbisop Timothy Dolan becoming the new archbishop of New York.

    Stone Gampel
    Saint Paul School
    7th grade

  11. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    That’s great how a lot of people participated in Ash Wednesday, that must have made you very happy. It’s good to see that the Teen Center were able to carry out magnificent renovations for the young people in other Catholic Schools. Can’t wait for the next blog!

    A student from St. Pauls School

  12. I loved reading our blog this week. I was happy to hear about Archbishop timothy dolan becoming the new archbishop of New York. I hope you are having a great lent season.


    Ned Ramsay
    St. Paul school
    Grade 7

  13. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    It must have been an honor to be able to be with and talk to Holocaust Survivors. Archbishop Timothy Dolan must be very excited about becoming the new Archbishop of New York. I hope you have a good week. I can’t wait for your next blog.

    St. Paul School

  14. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    It’s good that everyone participating in Ash Wednesday. I am glad to see that The Teen Center has had such positive influence on kids. I am looking forward to next weeks blog.

    -Nikki St.paul’s School Hingham

  15. Dear Cardinal Sean.
    I loved the renovations that were made at the Catholic Charities’ Teen Center at St. Peter’s and I wish I could go there! I am very happy for Archbishop Timothy Dolan about becoming the new Archbishop of New York.

    Hope to see you soon!

    ~Caroline Hughes
    St. Pauls School
    Hingham Ma

  16. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    I hope Archbishop Dolan will do his best as the next archbishop of New York!
    At my school, we have foldable cardboard boxes where we put in money and coins for Lent. This year in Lent I am putting in some of my own money from my allowance into those boxes! I think it is important to give up some of our own things because we are so fortunate to live our kind of life style while others are going hungry and a poor.
    Celene from St. Paul School

  17. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    This past weekend I also attended a religious retreat in New Hampshire called Snow Camps along with two other classmates. From my experiences there, I became closer to God and I learned that God sent Jesus to die on the cross for us because He loves us. I also learned the God wants us to come to Heaven and that is why He saved us from sin, by sending His only son. I always felt close to God, but my time at Snow Camps allowed me to become much closer and think about how much God really does love us and how we should let him into our lives and teach others about him.

    Jenna Gibbons
    7th Grade Student at Saint Paul School in Hingham
    I hope you visit our school sometime!

  18. Dear Cardinal Sean:

    Thank you for your e-ministry.

    I wanted to ask about an article that I read on LifeNews.com yesterday. It stated that … “Caritas Christi, is joining with Centene Corporation in a bid for the government contract that would include coverage for abortion.” Is this accurate?

    Thank you.

    Steve Rochford

  19. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    I love reading your new blogs! They are very interesting to me. I have been praying during the lent season, it is very important. We received ashes on our foreheads in church also. I am happy that Timothy Dolan is the new Archbishop of New York!


  20. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    Congratulations to Archbishop Timothy Dolan as the next Archbishop of New York. This saturday at Mass, the priest was talking about Lent. In his homily he mentioned that during Lent we not only try to become closer to God but we give thanks for what we have that others don’t have. For example, for Lent I am trying not to use my cell phone as much. His homily made me think about the people who don’t have phones at all. They don’t even have houses to live in. It gave me a new perspective on the season of Lent. Also, a teacher in my school’s mother unfortunately passed away. Would you please pray for her?

    Best wishes,
    Lindsey from St. Paul School

  21. Hi Cardinal Sean,

    This weeks blog is great! I also think it is important that we devote this time of Lent to improving our relationship with God and others. I am so happy to hear about Archbishop Timothy Dolan. I’m very excited about the season of Lent beginning. Lent is a time to make sacrifices and strengthen our love with God.
    I hope you visit our school soon! Keep up the great blogs!

    Deirdre Gill
    7th grader at St. Paul School

  22. Hi Cardinal Sean,

    The Teen Center looks great now! It’s a really good thing that all those kids will have a better learning experience now.

    I would like to meet Holocaust survivors one day. The Holocaust was a horrible, awful time in our world’s history and we need people who actually went through it to help us prevent hatred and genocide from ever happening again. I am interested in learning about the Holocaust. Our class is going to Washington DC this year, and we will be visiting the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

    I was in New York over the weekend, and with the grace of God, got home safely on Sunday night. My family and I were there for the baptism of my little cousin. But we also went to Sunday Mass, and when we were there, the Church had a large styrofoam cross. In a basket next to it were many little wooden crosses. What we were supposed to do was “name” our cross, something hard in our life (an addiction, health issue, problems with faith, etc.) and stick the cross into the bigger cross. We would “carry our crosses” throughout Lent, and at the end of Lent, all the little crosses would be burned during the Easter Vigil. I thought this was a wonderful spiritual thing to do that would help me on my journey throughout Lent.

    Thank you for the great blog!

    -Kate K
    Grade 7
    Saint Paul School, Hingham

    I hope you come to visit our school soon!

  23. Dear Cardinal Sean, I love reading your blogs. I met you at Franco American school in Lowell and at Saint John the Evangelist church in Chelmsford last year. It was really a priviledge to me. If you are ever around Lowell, please come visit Pho Da Lat restaurant. We have the best Vietnamese food in Lowell which is run by a Catholic family. Thank you.

  24. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    This week’s blog was very interesting to read. It was nice to see everyone celebrating Ash Wednesday and preparing for Lent. The renovations of the Catholic Charities’ Teen Center at St. Peter’s looks really nice. I am glad that many people attendended the ceremony too.

    Mackenzie from St. Paul’s School

  25. I am glad to see that Cardinal Sean has taken steps to heal the rift between Catholics and our Jewish brothers and sisters due to the unfortunate statement made by Bishop Williamson of the SSPX. Such a regrettable comment not only offended the Jewish people, but many Christians as well. It sets a very poor tone for those who are looking to the Catholic Church to be the voice of reason and compassion in a world where these two virtues seem to be waning.

    All of us can learn from Cardinal Sean’s activity and efforts on behalf of reconciliation between the Jewish and Catholic communities. As Catholics we are bound to take to heart the words of Christ, “Ut unum sint,” that we may all be one.

    St. Benedict exhorted his monks to a conversion of manners. Our way of life must change for the good and never compromise the work toward unity, regardless of the smallness of the steps that have been taken. Our holy father St. Francis called every creature Brother.

    Often brothers and sisters will speak hurtful words, but the sons and daughters of the Father should always lead by their example of humility and repentence when they have hurt another person.

    Many Catholics wonder why the Church is not more assertive in promoting the conversion to Catholicism among people of other faiths. What we must remember is that before we can invite others to embrace our faith, we must prove to be worthy of their trust. How can others trust our preaching, if our actions are hurtful and divisive?

    Br. Jay, SFO

  26. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    This past weekend I visited a great program in New Hampshire called Snow Camps. There, I became closer to God and realized just how much he loves me. God’s way of showing us his unconditional passion to love us is through giving up his only son to save us from OUR sins. This really helped me to realize that God wants to form a personal relationship with both me and you for we are his children; however, we are the only ones who can let him into our lives.

    I really enjoyed you blog this week. Thank You!

    Mariah Ward
    7th grade student at St. Paul School

  27. Cardinal Sean,

    I am happy the lent season of 2009 has come. I am also glad to hear about Archbishop Timothy Dolan becoming the new Archbishop of New York. I hope it is a nice and peaceful 2009 lent season!

    Grade 7
    St.Paul School Hingham
    Hope you visit us soon!

  28. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    Best of luck to Archbishop Timothy Dolan! The Holocaust was a very low point in history. Israel Arbeiter and Steve Ross, must of gone through a really hard time facing the horrors that they experienced in the death camps.I am looking forward to next weeks blog!

    I hope that you visit our school soon!

    7 Grade, St Paul School Hingham MA

  29. Congratulations cardinal Sean.
    Its a very good blog,I read every week.
    One reader from Brazil,adriano.

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February 2009

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