Beginning the year at our seminaries

Hello and welcome,

I want to begin this week by joining the rest of the community in mourning the loss of the 13 U.S. service members killed in a suicide bombing attack at Kabul’s airport last week and, in a special way, Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario of Lawrence.Rosario-2

She is remembered by those who knew her as someone who was kind, loving, generous and someone always willing to give of herself.  Indeed, as a high schooler, she volunteered at our Cor Unum Meal Center in Lawrence, where she helped provide food to those in need.  Of course, that same spirit of selflessness manifested itself in her willingness to serve our country and, sadly, to make the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan.

Johanny and her fallen comrades will remain in our prayers, as will their families. We pray for peace in Afghanistan and throughout the world. We ask God to bless our military everywhere to keep them safe.


Saturday, I attended a Memorial Mass for Sal DiDomenico, who ran his flower shop in East Cambridge, Flowers by Sal, for more than 50 years and was a pillar of his parish at St. Francis. Sal died on the eve of St. Joseph’s Day last year but, because of the pandemic, the family decided to wait until this year to celebrate this Memorial Mass.Sal-IMG_3624

He was always very generous in bringing flowers for the cathedral (along with some delicious Italian pastries) and was a wonderful family man. So, I was happy to be invited to celebrate the Memorial Mass, where we were joined by his wife, Marie, and his children. Sal-IMG_8437

There was also a group of priests who were very close to Sal and his family as well as members of the Shalom Community, which is based in St. Francis Parish.Sal-IMG_3623

It was a very beautiful celebration. They actually brought a group of musicians who have been very popular in Boston over the years called The Platters. They learned all of the liturgical music, which they executed very beautifully, including some Italian hymns.Sal-IMG_3622

Sal was a true leader in the Italian-American community. He was an officer in the Dante Alighieri Society as well as several other organizations. Sal-IMG_3620

He was also very involved in religious and cultural causes, including serving as president of the Sts. Cosmas and Damien Society, which hosts one of the largest Italian festivals in the area. The devotion has its roots in Gaeta, Italy and that society dates back to 1926. Very much like the St. Lucy Society I mentioned last week, the longevity of the Sts. Cosmas and Damien Society is just another example of how these manifestations of popular religiosity really do have the power to draw people into the community of faith and keep them associated with the Church. The Sts. Cosmas and Damien Society was certainly something that was very near and dear to Sal’s heart.


This is the time of year when we celebrate the Masses of the Holy Spirit to begin the academic year in our seminaries. After not being able to hold them last year, it was good to be able to observe this tradition with the three seminaries once again.

The first of the celebrations was on Sunday when I went to the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Brookline.

I was happy to meet a number of the new seminarians who have arrived to begin their studies. IMG_3625

After the Eucharist, they presented me with this statue of St. Francis.IMG_3626

Then, on Tuesday, we celebrated the Mass at St. John’s Seminary.SJS-01SJS-02SJS-04SJS-05

At St. John’s, we were joined by a number of priests and associates of the seminary for the Mass. Among them was a group of young Carmelite friars who will be studying at St. John’s. SJS-06

It was certainly a very joyful celebration.PSJXXIII_DSC2165PSJXXIII_DSC2246PSJXXIII_DSC_2040PSJXXIII_DSC2286

Then, on Thursday, I celebrated the Mass at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston. Originally, I had planned to celebrate the Mass on Friday, which is their monthly Spanish Mass. I always joke with them that, every time I come, they are having a Spanish Mass.


Tuesday, I was visited at the cathedral by Deacon Sermed Ashkouri and Father Hermiz Haddad of Chicago, who is a pastor of the Chaldean Catholic Diocese of St. Thomas the Apostle. It was a great joy to have ordained Deacon Sermed at the cathedral this April and to have him serve the local Chaldean Catholic community.IMG_3630

Father Haddad came to talk about arranging for a Chaldean priest to come periodically to celebrate Mass for the Chaldean Catholics in the archdiocese. Currently, we have a priest who celebrates the Latin Rite Mass for them, but about once a month, a priest comes from another area of the country to celebrate for them in their own rite. We are very grateful for Father Haddad’s visit and his concern about the Chaldean Catholics living here in the archdiocese.


Tuesday evening, I was visited by President John Garvey of the Catholic University of America, accompanied by Scott Rembold, Vice President for University Advancement.CUA-Logo

President Garvey has been visiting the various members of the Board of Trustees. He gave us a very positive report on the progress of CUA, which, despite the challenges of the pandemic, is doing very well. We are very grateful for President Garvey’s role in the growth of the CUA over the last few years.


Thursday morning, I attended the wake for Father Joe Fagan, who passed away this week. IMG_8444

Father Fagan was a beloved priest who had vast pastoral experience in the St. James Society and our seminaries and parishes. He had health challenges for many years, but he rose above all of those obstacles to minister to people in his very gentle, loving way.Father Joseph K. Fagan Pilot file photo

I was able to visit him a few days before he died, and he told me he was happy to be a part of the community at Regina Cleri and was grateful for the fraternity and spirit of support that he received from the staff and the residents there.


Finally, today was the funeral Mass for John Kaneb, who passed away on Sunday. John was a great friend and benefactor of the Church. His passing is a great loss for the whole community.Kaneb-IMG_3634

A loving husband and father of six sons, John was a man with a beautiful family whose Catholic faith gave him a strong sense of mission and social justice. He was an extraordinary individual who was involved in the life of the Church in so many different aspects: Catholic Charities, Catholic schools, the retirement fund for our priests, and prison reform, just to name a few. In his own quiet and determined way, he made an incredible impact on the local community in the life of our Church.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

September 2021
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