Remembering the faithful departed


This week, our nation experienced a tragedy at the U.S. military base in Fort Hood, Texas. There is a great deal of trauma and suffering at Ft. Hood following the shooting. I spoke with Father Edward McCabe, a priest from the Archdiocese of Boston who serves our troops at Ft. Hood and who is providing pastoral care and solace in the aftermath of the shooting. I promised him our prayers for those who were killed and injured, for their families, and for all who are serving them. The fine men and women of our military are essential to the freedom we hold dear as a nation. We honor them with our prayers, thoughts and support now and always.

– – –

I was relieved that a ballot initiative in Maine on behalf of traditional marriage prevailed, although I was also saddened that such an initiative had to be held, realizing how divisive this issue can be in a community.

The Mainers demonstrated for the thirty-first time that whenever the American people have an opportunity to express their opinion on marriage, they come down in favor of traditional marriage. I believe in my heart that if we had had the same opportunity in Massachusetts, the people of Massachusetts would also have voted in favor of traditional marriage.

Unfortunately, Governor Deval Patrick and our legislators did not allow us to exercise that right. I think that was a great injustice to the people of the Commonwealth.

By the same token, I think it’s very unfortunate that it has been impossible to carry on a serious dialogue about the importance of traditional marriage for family life and for the raising of children in our country. This has always been cast in the light of the great emotional debate over prejudice and discrimination against homosexual persons.

I am positive that the people in Maine who voted for traditional marriage were not doing so out of any rancor or disdain for homosexual persons. While there are a small number who hold extreme views in almost any cause, I am convinced the vast majority of people were looking at what is good for society.

We, of course, live in a culture where individual rights are supreme and sometimes the common good and the rights of the community are trampled because of an exaggerated stress on individualism in our country. It is my hope that someday we will be able to have a serious conversation and public debate on the wider subject of marriage. Perhaps the bishops’ upcoming pastoral letter on marriage will allow this conversation to begin.

To say that gay marriage doesn’t affect other people’s marriages is disingenuous, at best. Changing ideas impacts the culture and society, even though the consequences may not be visible immediately. To help illustrate this, I like to compare it to a nation’s change from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. Perhaps the external trappings look the same but the difference in the end results and what transpires historically is going to be very dramatic.

We see that there have already been so many assaults on marriage and family life, and we are convinced that a redefinition of marriage is also detrimental to marriage. What is bad for marriage is bad for American society.

– – –

As we have seen in Maine, the power of the people can make a positive difference. I also hope the American people, especially Catholics, participate in the democratic process in the current health care debate in our nation.

I am pleased that a number of congressmen have come forward voicing their objection to the present form of the legislation which does not have sufficient conscience protections and would propose the government funding of abortions, something that the vast majority of American people are against and that historically we have not done.

I am once again urging you, if you have not yet approached your legislators, to click on the link provided below. This will take you to a web page that will allow you to e-mail your comments to your legislators.


I think it is particularly important that those legislators who are standing up for the unborn and conscience protections know that they are supported by the public.

This is a very important moment for us in our country. If the legislation is passed in its present form, it will do irreparable harm.

– – –

Now, onto the events of my week…

On Friday, I attended a Holy Hour and dinner with all of our seminarians — those studying at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary, the Redemptoris Mater House of Formation, and St. John’s Seminary, as well as those studying at Our Lady of Providence Seminary in R.I. In fact, only those studying outside the United States could not be with us.





During our meeting, I gave a short address on perseverance. We had a dialogue on the priestly life. I talked to them about the celibacy conference and the Holy Father’s document on the Anglicans.

It’s always a wonderful opportunity for the seminarians to get to know each other, particularly those who study at different seminaries.


– – –

After gathering with the seminarians at the Pastoral Center, I went to the Friends of Don Orione 43 Annual Banchetto.  At this year’s dinner, held in recognition of the 60th anniversary of the Don Orione Home in East Boston, Mr. Joseph Milano was presented the Don Orione Man of the Year Award.  Joseph and his family are dedicated parishioners at St. Maria Goretti parish in Lynnfield and  the proprietors of the historic Union Oyster House in Boston. 


On a number of occasions Joseph has been recognized for his contributions to the work of the Church, including his having received the Cardinal Cushing Medal from the Society of St. James the Apostle, being named a Knight of Don Orione, and Knight of the American Association of the Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem and Malta.   It was a pleasure to be able to join the hundreds people gathered for the dinner in congratulating Joseph on this well-deserved honor .




– – –

Bishop Seamus Hegarty, the bishop of the Diocese of Derry, Ireland, and Father John McCarthy, of the Irish Pastoral Centre in Quincy visited me Saturday morning.

Bishop Hegarty is in charge of the Irish bishops’ ministry to migrants. He has a special responsibility within the Irish Bishops’ Conference to deal with the questions of immigration.

He is here visiting Irish immigrants in the United States and those who serve them pastorally, so one of his stops was our Irish Pastoral Centre. The Bishop was also meeting with the Irish ambassador, and the Irish consul during his visit to the area.

Of course, we have always had a large number of Irish immigrants in Boston. In fact, when he told me that Boston was a twin city with Derry, I told him some people would say Boston is more like a colony of Ireland!

He discussed immigration legislation that could be proposed in the next year here in the United States and the impact that would have on immigrants.

– – –

Later that morning, I presided at the annual Altar Server Appreciation Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. There were about 700 altar servers present.

People stand to be honored during the altar server appreciation mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009. (Photo/Lisa Poole)

Cardinal Sean O'Malley during an altar server appreciation mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009. (Photo/Lisa Poole)

This year, members of the Boston Boy Choir at St. Paul Church in Cambridge who are also altar servers sang. It was a beautiful Mass. It was also very good for the other youngsters to see the choir and to realize that young people have such a love for the liturgy, and the proficiency for singing the Latin Mass and beautiful hymns.


Cardinal Sean O'Malley gives Michelle Beazley the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta award during an altar server appreciation mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009. (Photo/Lisa Poole)

Cardinal Sean O'Malley gives William Haughey the Pope John Paul II award during an altar server appreciation mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009. (Photo/Lisa Poole)

Cardinal Sean O'Malley gives Catherine Campagna the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta award during an altar server appreciation mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009. (Photo/Lisa Poole) 

Afterwards, there were awards given out — the Pope John Paul II Awards and Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta Awards — to servers who exemplify reverence, piety, a love of the liturgy, and a strong record of parish and community service. To conclude the day, the servers and their families were treated to ice cream sundaes in the Cathedral High School gymnasium.

Please join me in congratulating the award winners.

The winners of the Pope John Paul II Award were:

– Ryan Wallace of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Braintree,

– Noel Reed of St. Michael Parish in Avon,

– William Haughey of St. Columbkille Parish in Brighton, and

– Eddie Newton of St. Andrew Parish in Billerica


Winners of the Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta Award were

– Michelle Beazley of Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta Parish in Dorchester,

– Alejandra Tejeda of Holy Family Parish in Dorchester,

– Sarah Hennessey of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Acton, and

– Catherine Campagna of Sacred Heart Parish in Waltham.

– – –

That afternoon, I gave a lecture at St. Francis Chapel, located in the Prudential Center in downtown Boston, as part of a lecture series there. Given that this is the Year for Priests, I spoke on the topic of the priesthood.




We also marked the 40th anniversary of the chapel. It was originally run by the Friars of the Holy Name Province, but for many years now, it has been staffed by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, who are doing an extraordinary job there.

After the lecture, I celebrated the Vigil Mass for the Feast of All Saints.

– – –

After that, I went to the North End for our monthly gathering with young adults — our “Piazza Navona project,” as I call it, because of a similar initiative in Rome that inspired our gatherings.




There was a holy hour and opportunities for confession. I had Mass there at 8 p.m. There were many priests concelebrating. Afterwards, there were pizzas.



The seminarians were standing out in front of the church inviting people in. Because it was Halloween, some people would see the seminarians in the collar and say, “Is that real?”

I recounted to them that once I was visiting a nursing home and one of the residents said, “Oh, I have a statue of him on my patio.” I said, “I hope it wasn’t a bird bath.”

– – –

On Sunday, I celebrated the centennial Mass at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Waltham. It is a very beautiful church. They have a wonderful choir. Father Rodney Copp has done an extraordinary job in building up the parish.


DSC06727 image002





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Later, I attended a Mass and a reception for the leadership of the Knights of Columbus throughout the state — the state board and the state district deputies.

I told them we are very anxious for the Knights to grow in the diocese — in the universities and the parishes.

The Knights of Columbus has shown itself to be so supportive of the Church and all of our ministries — particularly with promoting vocations, a defense of the Gospel of Life, and standing firmly with our priests. The Knights have been so faithful in enduring these difficult years. Wherever they have councils at the parishes, it has been an invaluable aid to the pastors and a great source of volunteers. We are encouraging all the pastors to consider initiating a council at their parishes if they don’t already have one.

– – –

Monday, as you know, was All Souls’ Day. That morning, I presided at the funeral Mass for Father James O’Donohoe, Father O’D as he was affectionately known, who died on Oct. 27 at St. Patrick Manor in Framingham at the age of 88.


For priests, All Souls’ Day is very special because it is one of only two days on which priests are authorized to celebrate Mass three times. The other is Christmas.

My first celebration was privately at the cathedral rectory, but my second celebration was the funeral Mass of Father O’Donohoe.

During his life, he taught at numerous Catholic colleges and seminaries across the country, including Boston College and our own St. John’s Seminary. He also served at many parishes in the archdiocese, including St. Joseph Parish in Medway and St. Joseph Parish in Somerville. He was also a chaplain to the Gray Nuns in Lexington.

The Mass was very well attended. I commented that we should all be so lucky to have our funeral on All Souls’ Day when millions of Catholics are praying for our faithful departed!

Father O’Donohoe obviously had made a great impact on the people of Lexington, where he helped out in the parishes. Many people came to the Mass, and many priests whom he had taught in the seminary were a part of it. It was a very beautiful celebration.

– – –

Later that day, I met with presidents of Catholic colleges within the archdiocese. We had an opportunity to thank them for all that they do to support our Catholic schools in the archdiocese, and we talked about ways we can continue to look to them for support of our Catholic school system.

– – –

At 4:30 p.m., I celebrated my third Mass of the day  — for the Sisters Disciples at their chapel on West Street in Boston.

Afterwards, I joined them for dinner.

– – –

I then attended evening prayer at St. Theresa of Avila Parish in West Roxbury. We prayed the office of the dead for our deceased priests. It was organized by Bishop Hennessey. Many of our priests were able to be there, and our seminarians were invited as well.


Father Tom Buckley preached the sermon. Afterwards, there was a reception in the atrium of St. Theresa’s.

We’re all looking forward to the mosaics Father Raymond Helmick, S.J., the brother of the pastor who lives at the parish, has been making, and is going to hang in the atrium in the very near future.

Father Helmick is also the one who made the tabernacle for the parish which I have always admired.

Here are some photos which give you a sense of the beautiful tabernacle:

Mass with Jubilarian Sisters of the Archdiocese of Boston, Sept. 13, 2009 at St. Theresa of Avila Parish, West Roxbury. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

 Mass with Jubilarian Sisters of the Archdiocese of Boston, Sept. 13, 2009 at St. Theresa of Avila Parish, West Roxbury. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

Mass with Jubilarian Sisters of the Archdiocese of Boston, Sept. 13, 2009 at St. Theresa of Avila Parish, West Roxbury. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

 Mass with Jubilarian Sisters of the Archdiocese of Boston, Sept. 13, 2009 at St. Theresa of Avila Parish, West Roxbury. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

Tabernacle of St. Theresa of Avila Parish, West Roxbury created by Father Rayomnd Helmick, SJ. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy 

– – –

On Tuesday, I had dinner and attended evening prayer with the archdiocese’s marriage ministry committee. For three years, the marriage committee has been working on designing a new marriage preparation program for us.



With the pilot program being launched, this was bringing their work to a conclusion. It was a way of recognizing them and thanking them for their contributions.

We also talked a little bit about the fact that this month, God willing, the new pastoral letter on marriage will be published.

Kari Colella, our Marriage Ministries Coordinator, was very pleased to announce that she feels the new marriage preparation course that we have designed reflects many of the themes that have been developed in the marriage pastoral. transformedinlove_02


One of the biggest challenges we have in the American church today is to instill in our people a sense of vocation, particularly vocation to married life and to being mothers and fathers.


– – –

On Wednesday, I had a luncheon with the vicars and auxiliary bishops. Father David Couturier, our Director of Pastoral Planning addressed us at the gathering.

I thanked the vicars for their work; their service to the priests is so important. I encouraged them in faithfully conducting the vicariate meetings as an opportunity for shared prayer and fellowship, and to discuss the pastoral themes that are being discussed in the Presbyteral Council, so there can be that communication directly and all the priests can have participation in the conversations that are taking place at the archdiocesan level.

– – –

I closed out the events for this week’s posting with a Mass for deceased members of the diaconate community held at the Bethany Chapel at the Pastoral Center. It was very well attended.



There were seven lamps that were lit representing seven people who died last year. Then, we read the names of the deceased deacons and their immediate family members, whether it was a child or a spouse.







– – –

Finally, as I close my post for this week,  I ask you once again to pray for all those affected by the violence at Ft. Hood.

I leave you with my prayers,

Cardinal Seán

14 thoughts on “Remembering the faithful departed”

  1. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    My name is Erin Duffey and i attend St.Paul School in Hingham. I wanted to say that my heart goes out to the soldiers in Fort Hood fighting for us and risking their lifes every day. Also I wanted to say congradulations for the 60th anniversary of the Don Orione home in East Boston, and to Mr. Joseph Milano who was presented the Don Orione man of the year award. I also found it interesting that on All Soul’s Day priests go to mass three times and on Christmas. Thank you for keeping me and other readers updated on how your very interesting weeks are like and that I appriciate that a lot.

    Erin Duffey
    Saint Paul School
    Hingham MA,
    Grade 7

  2. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    The tabernacle looks beautiful! The tabernacle’s design is so majestic, and the engravings are so elegant and intricate. The pictures are wonderful.They show important things in the church like The Last Supper, Jesus carrying the cross and what looks like The Washing of the Feet. Once again, your blog was a wonderful read!
    God Bless You,
    Kathleen Ryan
    Grade 7
    Saint Paul School

  3. How ironic that your award for female altar servers should be named after Mother Theresa (sic) when she was so vehemently opposed to female alter servers. Some might even suggest that the contradiction dishonours her memory….

  4. I really enjoyed your blog today Cardinal Sean! I heard about the tragedy at Fort Hood. I’m sure the brave men and woman that died that day are with God. I will keep them and Father James O’Donohoe in my prayers.

    John Kenneally
    Saint Paul School
    Hingham MA

  5. Most Revererend Eminence,

    Thank you so much for this insight that you have given us an opportunity to get a glimpse into the life of a Cardinal. I happen to stumble across this tonight and look forward to getting to read this more and more. I will be praying for you and all of the clergy. Thank you again for this opportunity! 🙂

    God Bless,

    Ryan Erickson

  6. Cardinal SAean,
    My school, Saint Paul’s in Hingham, agrees with you about that horrible shooting in Texas and pray with you for God to help and comfort everyone involved. I also agree with you on tghe matter of abortion. It is a terrible thing, the killing of babies who have not had the chance to fully live their lives. Maybe that baby would of gone on to find the cure for cancer, but someone killed him/her before he/she had the chance. I liked hearing about Bishop Hegarty, because my great great grandmother immigrated from Ireland, but no one in my family has yet to become a priest. It is sad that Father James O’ Donohoe died but he seemed to have had a long and holy life. I can’t wait for next week’s blog!
    God Bless
    Katie Irish
    Grade Seven
    Saint Paul School

  7. Cardinal Sean

    I like your style! Would that more in the hierarchy were like you.
    Dennis Murphy
    Cahrlotte NC

  8. As always it was nice to hear about your travels. I would also like to congratulate the people who won the Pope John Paul II awards.

  9. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    Hi! Another eventful week! The people who recieved the awards must be so proud! Congratulations to all of them! Also, the St. Charles Borromeo church looks very beautiful!
    I will keep the people who were affected by the sad events at Ft. Hood in my paryers.
    Until next week!,
    Grade 8
    Saint Paul School

  10. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    After reading about the tragety in Texas, I will definetly try to keep the killed and injured in my prayers. I liked reading about all of the churches you have visited in Boston over the past week, and I can’t wait until you can make it to Hingham. Thanks for this week’s blog!

    Mackenzie Voke
    Saint Paul School

  11. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    What happened at the U.S. military base in Fort Hood, Texas was a tragedy. I will remember all the people who were effected by what happened in my prayers and I know that many other people will too. On another note, congratulations to the winners of the Pope John Paul II Award and to the winners of the Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta Award.


    Grade 8
    St. Paul School-Hingham, MA

  12. Dear Cardinal Seán,

    I heard about the Texas shooting at Saturday night Mass last night. It’s such as sad thing, and I’ll be sure to pray for all those who were affected by it.

    I’ll also pray for Father James O’Donohoe. It must be a hard time for those who knew him well, and I’ll pray for them, too.

    The tabernacle at St. Theresa’s really is beautiful! And the Mass you attended must have been wonderful!

    Thanks for another great blog! God Bless!

    -Kate, Grade 8
    Saint Paul School
    Hingham, MA

  13. Dear Cardinal Sean – Padre Sean:
    It is such an honor to have known, you have been an inspiration through out my life. I’ve known since St. Camillus in MD, where I grew, you have helped my mother to deal with 5 children by herself the last one with Downsyndrome, (she is blessing to us all). Today is an important day for me, I will have my interview to enter the Candidacy Phase to the SFO in Tennessee, why am I here? only God has the answers, I only know that He has directed me to be here, He has provided me with a good job, an opportunity to learn more on the SFO, an opportunity to serve my parish here. I have met many people, the majority very humble people from Mexico, that you know their situations, I have asked the parish to allow me to teach ESL and thanks to God we have been able to do so. The company that I work for has donated for the purchase of books. This is my life here in TN, back home in Maryland, my mother Anita, has suffered a car accident, she is recuperating, although she is a wheel chair, hopefully for not much longer, she is in therapy. This happend after a week of my father’s death, Guido Moldiz, whom you have known well. He passed away on Agust 20. We were not able to see him or buried him, he died in Honduras, where he moved some 20 years ago with his new wife and never came back.
    I am so happy that you are part of the US Bishops Conference, I know that your voice is strong specially in matters of abortion and immigration. I will make a committment to pray for you to keep strong and be the voice of the silent ones. May the spirit of St. Francis be always with you.
    Paz y Bien

  14. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    The shooting at Fort Hood this past touched the hearts of so many. I will make sure to keep the victims, family members, and for all who are serving them. I admire soldiers for their courage and bravery.
    The tabernacle at St Theresa’s is amazing. The images depicted on the side of the tabernacle are exquisite.

    Mariah Ward
    Eighth Grade Student at St. Paul School

    p.s. We hope that you will come to visit us soon!

Comments are closed.

November 2009