The Light Is On For You


Greetings, everyone:

Last week, on the Sunday after the Feast of Candlemas (the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord) the Church observed World Day for Consecrated Life, a celebration which was instituted by Pope John Paul II.

I took occasion of that event to send this letter to the women religious in our archdiocese assuring them of our support and requesting that they participate fully in the Apostolic Visitation, which is currently underway:

Dear Sister,

As the Church celebrates the gift of the Consecrated Life, I wish to say a word of appreciation and congratulations to all religious. The document prepared by Sister Marian Batho and our Bicentennial committee chronicles the stunning accomplishments of our religious communities in the Archdiocese of Boston. The exhibition at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington: Women and Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America likewise underscores the invaluable contributions of religious women in the history of our country. My personal debt to the Sisters and Priests who mentored me in my vocation is enormous. I know that I speak for generations of Catholics who have benefited from the selfless service of thousands of religious sisters.


In December I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet with our Religious Superiors of Women concerning the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States. It was very helpful to hear the Sisters’ questions, and to share with them that Mother Mary Clare Millea has assured me that she and her staff stand ready to address any concerns.


It is my hope that all of our religious communities will participate fully in the Apostolic Visitation process, to further the spirit of communion in the Church. I also shared with the Superiors my conviction that the visitation is not a criticism of religious life, but rather an opportunity to reflect on our lives and strengthen our vocation. Having been part of seminary visitations in the United States and Latin America, I realize that there are challenges in the process, but the outcome was always helpful. The process provides us an opportunity to come together and reflect on the treasure of our religious vocation, the charism of our founder and our ministries in addition to the witness of consecrated life.


Once again, I want to thank all of our consecrated religious for making a gift of your life to Christ and His Church. Thank you for your tireless efforts to make the Kingdom more visible and more present in our world, and please know of my gratitude for your prayers and good example, of which I am a grateful beneficiary.

– – –

Next week is Ash Wednesday, which of course, begins the season of Lent.

An important Lenten initiative we are holding during this Year for Priests is The Light Is On For You.

Through this effort we are highlighting the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation by having the sacrament available throughout the archdiocese at all of our churches and chapels on Wednesday evenings and inviting people to receive the sacrament and to invite friends and family members to take advantage of this opportunity for Reconciliation.

We feel that Lent particularly is a very privileged time for people to return to the sacraments and it is our hope that this program will bear great spiritual fruits for the archdiocese.

Bishop Bob Hennessey is spearheading the initiative. Please watch this video introduction on the initiative that he recorded:


The Light Is On For You! from bostoncatholic on Vimeo.

Also, please watch the following video message from Father Bob Reed, director of CatholicTV, on this important new initiative.


– – –

On Thursday I took part in a press conference Cathedral High School to announce that seventh and eighth grades will now be added to the Cathedral High program in an effort to begin to prepare students sooner for the high school program.

 Cathedral High announces expansion to include a junior high school program Feb. 4, 2010. Pilot photoy Gregory L. Tracy

Mary and Sister Eleanor arriving for the press conference

Cathedral High announces expansion to include a junior high school program Feb. 4, 2010. Pilot photoy Gregory L. Tracy

Greeting Michael Daley

Cathedral High’s headmaster Tom Arria spoke at the press conference, along with the principal of the new junior high Sister Eleanor Daniels, our Superintendent of Schools Mary Grassa O’Neill and Cathedral High board member Michael Daley. I also said a few words.

Cathedral High announces expansion to include a junior high school program Feb. 4, 2010. Pilot photoy Gregory L. Tracy

Cathedral’s headmaster, Tom Arria

Cathedral High announces expansion to include a junior high school program Feb. 4, 2010. Pilot photoy Gregory L. Tracy

The press conference was held in one of the school’s science labs. So, when I began my remarks I joked that I could give the media a great photo-op if I just tugged the cord of the emergency shower that was behind us — but I resisted the temptation!


Following the press conference, Tom Arria led the group on a tour of some of the facilities that will be used by the junior high. I understand that they will have an area of the school that is separate from the high school.

Cathedral High announces expansion to include a junior high school program Feb. 4, 2010. Pilot photoy Gregory L. Tracy

Cathedral High announces expansion to include a junior high school program Feb. 4, 2010. Pilot photoy Gregory L. Tracy


Cathedral High announces expansion to include a junior high school program Feb. 4, 2010. Pilot photoy Gregory L. Tracy

Cathedral High announces expansion to include a junior high school program Feb. 4, 2010. Pilot photoy Gregory L. Tracy

Cathedral High announces expansion to include a junior high school program Feb. 4, 2010. Pilot photoy Gregory L. Tracy

Cathedral High announces expansion to include a junior high school program Feb. 4, 2010. Pilot photoy Gregory L. Tracy

Cathedral High announces expansion to include a junior high school program Feb. 4, 2010. Pilot photoy Gregory L. Tracy

Cathedral High announces expansion to include a junior high school program Feb. 4, 2010. Pilot photoy Gregory L. Tracy

I was very pleased to see several members of the media there including our archdiocesan newspaper The Pilot. You can read their story on the announcement here.

– – –

Then, over the weekend, we held Vocation Office Discernment Retreats for both and St. John’s and Blessed John XXIII seminaries.

The gathering with Blessed John retreatants was a one-evening retreat held at the seminary itself, in Weston. 



With the men at Blessed John




There were about 15 older men who are interested in knowing more about the priesthood.

The St. John’s retreat ran from Friday evening through Sunday at the Connors Retreat Center in Dover.  There were 47 men in attendance there. In fact, we could not have the retreat at St. John’s because we don’t have enough rooms there any more! As I always say, it is a good problem to have.



At the Connors Retreat Center


The current seminarians also joined us, so there was an opportunity for the young men there to hear their testimony as well.

I gave a number of talks at both sites. It was an opportunity to encourage and help these young men in the process of discernment.

We’re very pleased that so many participated in the retreats.

– – –

Over the weekend I flew to Rome to participate in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

This is the first time I have participated in this pontifical council. I have, in the past, been a part of their activities in South America and Spain, but this is the first time I am attending as a member.




I am the only American cardinal on council and Cardinal George Pell from Australia and Cardinal O’Brien from Scotland are the only other English-speaking cardinals.

The president of the Council is Cardinal Antonelli, who was formerly the Archbishop of Florence.

There are, however, a number of Americans in the council including: Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and his wife Dorian; John Grabowski, a theology professor at CUA and his wife Clare; Frank and Julie LaBoda, who are the head of Retrouvaille, a program to promote healing and renewal in marriages; Dr. Timothy T. O’Donnell, the president of Christendom College, and his wife Cathy and; Professor Janet Smith, who is a moral theologian.



Carl Anderson


Cathy and Tim O’Donnell

My very good friends from Honduras, Leonardo Casco and Marta Lorena Casco, are also members.


The Plenary Assembly met for three days — Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

This year’s theme was the rights of children. Quite a bit of interesting discussions comparing how that interfaces with rights of families.

On Monday we met with the Holy Father who addressed us on this issue.


While we were waiting for the Holy Father, I snapped a few photos with my Blackberry










Here is a report on his visit with us produced by Vatican Television:

I would also like to share with you a portion of his talk to us:

Your Plenary Assembly has as its theme “The Rights of Childhood,” chosen with reference to the 20th anniversary of the Convention approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989. In the course of the centuries, the Church, following the example of Christ, has promoted the protection of the dignity and of the rights of minors and, in many ways, has protected them. Unfortunately, in some cases, some of its members, acting in contrast to this commitment, have violated these rights: a conduct that the Church does not cease and will not cease to deplore and condemn.

The tenderness and teaching of Jesus, who regarded children as a model to imitate to enter the Kingdom of God (cf. Matthew 18:1-6; 19:13-14), has always constituted a strong appeal to nourish profound respect and concern for them. Jesus’ harsh words against those who scandalize one of these little ones (cf. Mark 9:42) commit all to never lower the level of this respect and love. That is why the Convention on the Rights of Children was also received favorably by the Holy See, in as much as it contains positive principles on adoption, health care, education, the protection of the disabled and of little ones against violence, abandonment and sexual and labor exploitation.
In the preamble, the convention indicates the family as “the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members, especially children.” Certainly, it is precisely the family, founded on marriage between a man and a woman, which is the greatest help that can be given to children. They want to be loved by a mother and a father who love one another, and they need to dwell, grow and live together with both parents, because the maternal and paternal figure are complementary in the education of children and in the construction of their personality and their identity. Hence, it is important that everything possible is done to make them grow in a united and stable family.

To this end, it is necessary to exhort the spouses never to lose sight of the profound reasons and sacredness of the conjugal pact and to reinforce it with listening to the Word of God, prayer, constant dialogue, mutual acceptance and mutual forgiveness. A family environment that is not serene, the division of the couple and, in particular, separation with divorce do not fail to have consequences for the children, whereas supporting the family and promoting its good, its rights, its unity and stability, is the best way of protecting the rights and the genuine needs of minors.

– – –

Finally, two weeks ago, the Order of Malta gathered at the Pastoral Center for the occasion of Augustus “Gus” Grace being professed as a Knight of Justice.  The Very Rev. John McGuire, O.P., Principal Chaplain for the Order’s Subpriory of Our Lady of Lourdes was the principal celebrant for the Mass, with Msgr. Dennis Sheehan and Father Mark Hession, both Magistral Chaplains of the Order, serving as concelebrants.


Desmond McCarthy, a Knight of Obedience, participated in the profession ceremony, assisting Gus in making profession to Fra’ John Dunlap, a member of the Sovereign Council of the Order. 

Becoming a Knight of Justice, Gus professed chastity, poverty and obedience, giving witness to the Order’s history of being founded by Religious Knights more than 900 years ago and governed by professed religious ever since then.




We congratulate Gus on this honor and give thanks to God for his commitment to the work of the Church!

Until my next post,

Cardinal Seán

13 thoughts on “The Light Is On For You”

  1. Dear Cardinal Sean, Thank you for sharing this sight with us. I was in Rome 2 summers ago and there was no snow..but it was as beautiful as the pictures. We have been collecting money at our school and praying for Haiti. Lent is very special for me and my family. I am preparing for Notre Dame for the september. Thank you again for this blog. God Bless Deanna Bono Grade 8 Saint Paul School

  2. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    The place in Rome had beautiful murals all along the walls. It must have been an honor to be the only cardinal from the US and one of the few English-speaking cardinals. The rights of children are something that can be hard for all children to receive and can be a hard issue to address.
    Thank you for your once again wonderful blog!
    God Bless You,
    Kathleen Ryan
    Grade 7
    Saint Paul School

  3. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    Thank you for the great blog! It’s wonderful that the seventh and eighth grade at Cathedrial High were going to be prepaired for high school. Since I am in middle school I found this very intresting. Thank you again for the blog. Please continue writting!
    God Bless!

    John Kenneally
    Saint Paul School
    Grade 7
    Hingham MA

  4. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    This week’s blog connected with me. Since I am in middle school I can connect with Cathedral High School’s style and life. I have applied to a couple of schools and am ready to go to high school. As always have a great week, and I was wondering if you could stop in at my school sometime?

    Aidan Hogan
    Saint Paul School

  5. Dear Cardinal Sean, I heard you visited cathedral elementary school one of our teachers Mr. Mihal used to work there I will tell him you visited the school.


    Brendan Sullivan Paint Paul’s Hingham

    P.S. we all hope that you will visit Saint Paul’s for a mass soon.

  6. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    I was excited to read this week’s blog. It was nice to read that Cathedral High School is broadening its student body by adding seventh and eighth graders into the school. I also read that you were tempted to pull the lever that causes the emergency shower to go off, this has happened at our school and it was good that you resisted the temptation. Another reason why it is great that the seventh and eighth grade building is being opened up is that there will be more job opportunities for the unemployed, such as teachers and janitors. It is great to hear that 47 young men arrived for the retreat, it is good to know more and more people are considering becoming a priest. It must have been a great honor to be the only American cardinal on the Pontifical Council. Once again you had a very exciting week and I look forward to your next blog.

    God bless,
    Sally Stover
    7th grade

  7. Dear Cardinal Sean, this week’s blog was great, not unlike all the others, but this week was very interesting to me. When I attended Mass I had heard that all the churches in the archdiocese were to hole the Sacrament of Reconciliation on every Wednesday of Lent. I think it is a wonderful idea. It will allow us to grow closer and closer to God without having to wait sometimes 6 to 8 months to go to Confession. One thing I thought was interesting to read about is that you were at a press conference at Cathedral High School because my current science teacher just moved from Cathedral High School to St. Paul School in Hingham. Lastly, thought that it was wonderful that you got to hear the Pope speak about children’s rights. Children’s rights are very important in a just society. Thanks you once again for such a wonderful blog this week.

    Emma Hofmann
    Saint Paul School
    Grade 7

  8. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    At an Ash Wednesday Mass I heard about The Light is On For You program. I think that is a wonderful program to have going on the communities. Thank you for posting those helpful videos on the program. I recognized the name Father Bob Reed from Catholic TV, because three classes at Saint Paul School, the school I attend, went on a field trip to do a game show with him for Catholic TV.
    It is good to read that young people are thinking about joining the priesthood and going on retreats. It is also good to read that older men would like to become priests also. Thank you for posting your blog and I can’t wait for the next one!
    God Bless You
    Katie Irish
    Grade 7
    Saint Paul School

  9. Why are the “older men” offered only a one-evening retreat and younger men are offered a three-day retreat? We hear over and over about the critical shortage of priests, yet, at the same time, we only hear about and are asked to pray for “young men” to consider a vocation to priesthood. Why? If a vocation comes from the Lord, shouldn’t all vocations be encouraged, regardless of age?

  10. Cardinal Sean,
    Thank you for your weekly, sharing.
    I think that it is appropriate for you to encourage the sisters to participate in the apostolic visitation, but it would have more conviction if you were to assure them that you would use your
    influence to make the results of the study made known to both them and all of us. This is a day of openness and this is an opportunity for the church to display that the days of cover up and collusion are over. God bless you. John

  11. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    I write to you to comment on the diocese-wide precautions against H1N1 which include abstaining from the chalice or shaking hands at the peace during Mass. While a wise precaution this fall, The vaccine has now been widely distributed and is available at local drugstores. It is time to end the precautions and rely upon the vaccine, our immune systems, and the holy spirit.

    Thank you for all you have done for the archdiocese, you will always be in my prayers!



  12. Dear Cardinal Sean, I love reading your Blog and especially love the beautiful pictures you take and have on your Blog. These are places that I have never been to and will never be able to go to, so I appreciate your posting them for us to see. God bless you and all you do in His name.

Comments are closed.

February 2010