Month: July 2011

The Passing of Archbishop Sambi

Hello and welcome back!

We were all very saddened by the news that Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, passed away Wednesday night at John Hopkins University Hospital from complications following lung surgery.


We were very shocked by the news, particularly given the fact that he was with us just a matter of weeks ago in Boston for the fundraising event of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary, at which he was honored.

Apsotolic Nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi was the guest of honor at the Remptoris Mater Seminary of Boston's second annual gala banquet May 15, 2011. Photo by Gregory L. Tracy

With Archbishop Sambi in May

At that moment, he was full of life, health and enthusiasm and gave a very beautiful and moving speech. No one at that time ever would have suspected that his life’s journey was approaching such a sudden end.

We commend him to God’s merciful love and providence and thank the Lord for the gift that his life has been to his family, his Church, and to all the people he has served as a priest and bishop.

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This week we were able to transfer the body of Cardinal William O’Connell from a mausoleum on the top of a hill at the Brighton campus of Boston College to the quadrangle at St. John’s Seminary where he has been reinterred.


The former burial place is just up the hill from the seminary

Bishop Arthur Kennedy, the rector of the seminary, officiated at the ceremony. Once the new monument is completed, I will celebrate the Mass at the seminary for the rededication of his tomb.

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Last Wednesday I met the leadership team of the State Court of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas


We had a nice talk and State Regent Connie Pagan updated me on a number of initiatives the Daughters are undertaking.


State Regent Connie Pagan

Every year the Daughters make a substantial contribution for the pro-life activities of the archdiocese through their Pennies for the Unborn program. This year they were able to double last year’s amount, presenting me with a check for $20,000.


Marianne Luthin, the director of our Pro-life Office, and Father Kevin O’Leary, who is their state chaplain, were also present there. We were able to thank the women for this very significant gift and assure them that it will be put to very good use, to support the pro-life ministry of the archdiocese.

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On Sunday, I went to a state gathering of the Knights of Columbus. They had a banquet to honor Bishop Dan Reilly, who is retiring as their state chaplain. He is the Bishop Emeritus of Worcester and has been in the Knights for about 50 years. He is probably the only person who has ever been the state chaplain in three different states — he has been the chaplain in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.


Bishop Reilly

Since his retirement, Bishop Reilly has remained very active in his ministry and has made a wonderful contribution to the Knights of Columbus– with his larger than life personality, joy, enthusiasm and great love for the Church and his vocation, which he brings to everything he does.


He is going to be succeeded by Bishop Robert Hennessey. Bishop Hennessey said in his remarks that the easiest thing in the world is to replace a lousy pastor who nobody likes, and the hardest thing is to replace a beloved man who is very effective. He said that’s the situation that he’s finding himself in!


Bishop Hennessey

It was a very large group that gathered to pay tribute to Bishop Reilly. I think there must have been about 300-400 people and there was representation from Connecticut and Rhode Island, as well. There were also letters read from the bishops who were not able to be there and from Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. So the Knights were very well represented.

Also during the evening, they named Father Richard Mehm of Immaculate Conception in Malden, Chaplain of the Year.


Father Charles Connolly, Bishop Reilly, Bishop Hennessey and Father Mehm

I couldn’t help but think that it was wonderful they could pull together that kind of an event just a week before their National Supreme Convention.

I will be attending the convention with a number of our Boston bishops, including Bishop Hennessey and Bishop Kennedy.

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Also this week, I was visited by several Capuchins who were working at the Steubenville East Conference, which was celebrated this year in Providence. This is one of the Franciscan University of Steubenville summer conferences for youth.

I was visited by the Guardian of Capuchin College in Washington D.C., along with a number of the student friars who were all part of the Steubenville East Conference. The friars came to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross for a Holy Hour, dinner and brief visit.

Bishop Bill Fey, who was in the seminary with me, is home on leave and is also staying with me at the Cathedral. As you may remember from one of my posts, he was ordained last year as Bishop of Kimbe, which is an island off the coast of Papua New Guinea.


Bishop Fey is a Newman scholar who taught at Oxford University before going to the missions. He is here to attend a conference on Blessed Cardinal Newman that is being held at St. Anselm College.


With Bishop Fey and Father Robert McCreary from Washington, who is also visiting and helping us with some projects

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On Tuesday, I went to Methuen to visit Holy Family Hospital, which is part of the Caritas system, for the dedication of a new emergency room.

I was invited to the ribbon cutting for the new facility.

Ribbon cut

It is beautiful and state of the art, much along the fashion of the new emergency care center they constructed at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. This is a great blessing for the people in the area and will assure they get the highest level of care.

Of course, one of the things that has allowed us to do this, is the investment that Steward Health Care has made in the Caritas system. Just recently, it was announced that Saints Medical Center in Lowell is becoming part of Steward Health Care.

We are all very enthused about the benefits this can have for Saints Medical Center and that they are committed to maintaining their Catholic identity.

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Earlier this week, we received a call telling us that Patriarche Cardinal Antonios Naguib, the Catholic Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, was visiting the Coptic Catholic community in Worcester and wanted to pay a visit. So we invited him to dinner Tuesday night at the Cathedral and gave him a tour.


I had met the cardinal in Rome on a number of occasions, but it was fascinating to have this opportunity to sit down and hear from him directly about what is happening in Egypt, particularly with the Arab Spring and its implications for the Christian community.

The Coptic Orthodox are about a tenth of the population of about 10 million. The Coptic Catholics, in contrast, are very few, with about 200,000 members. Although they are a small community, their influence and presence — because of Catholic schools and hospitals —are very important there.

It was very interesting to hear his comments on the history of the Church in Egypt. I did not realize that when the Muslims and Arabs arrived, Egypt was an entirely Christian country. And the irony is that the word “Copt” simply means “Egyptian.” So, in many ways, the Christians there are the original “Egyptians.”

During his visit I also mentioned to the cardinal that we have the Ge’ez Rite community that celebrates at the Cathedral, because I knew they share a historical connection. The Coptic and Ge’ez Churches are both part of the Alexandrian Rite and they share the Liturgy of St. Mark, though they celebrate in different languages.

He explained that this is because it was missionaries from Alexandria who brought Christianity to East Africa in the early centuries of the Church.

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Finally, on Wednesday I was very happy to visit with the children in the summer program run by the Missionaries of Charity and treat them to a pizza lunch.





I had a question and answer period with them and sang songs with them at the convent of the sisters of Blessed Mother Theresa.


The children were very enthusiastic and lively. The sisters run that program each summer and it’s always a great event!

Until next week

Cardinal Seán

July 2011