Cardinal Seán’s Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Encouraging missions and vocations

Welcome back!

Last week I left for Denver to visit with family and friends and to confirm my nephew, who has the same name as me, Seán.

The confirmation was held in his parish, Ave Maria Parish in Parker, a town outside of Denver.

One person who attended was Monsignor Tony McDaid, who was the pastor there when my nephews were growing up. My family’s been very involved in the life of the parish. Some of my relatives have taught in the parish school. Also, my sister-in-law made the stained-glass windows for the church.

It’s a lovely parish. I suppose the most interesting thing is that nearby there’s a big herd of buffalo. Not many parishes have that!

It was fun to be there and see some of my nephews and their families.


Father Kevin O’Leary traveled with me, and we stayed with the Capuchin friars at St. Francis Friary with Father Simeon Gallagher and his community. While we were there, two novices who just finished their novitiate made their vows in the chapel of the Capuchin Poor Clares nearby.

On Sunday I had Mass at Annunciation Parish, which is run by the Capuchins. It’s a wonderful inner-city school that the parish runs. There I met Meg Reidy, a long-lost cousin of mine who is teaching at the parish school. I had never met before. Her grandfather and my great-uncle were brothers. That’s what the Irish call “shirttail relatives.”
She had been part of the teacher corps of Notre Dame.

Her boyfriend, who is from Peru, was with her. He had been in a seminary in Peru.

At the Mass, they had the Aztec dancers.

It was a very nice visit to Denver. I had not been there to see my family in several years because of the pandemic. The bishops’ meeting and the Knights of Columbus meetings that were supposed to take place in Denver were cancelled, so it had been several years since I last visited. It was wonderful to see all the friars and my relatives there.


On Wednesday, Msgr. Kieran Harrington visited me. He is from the Diocese of Brooklyn and is in charge of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States. He is working on reorganizing their work.

Of course, the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies is very important.

It’s a very challenging time to be doing this work, but he’s very determined to make the work of the mission societies not just about raising money—or, as he says, being a tax collector—but about mission animation and helping our Catholic people to have a greater understanding of our call to be a missionary Church and help spread the Gospel throughout the whole world. He has a lot of very good ideas, and he wanted to share those with me and discuss what directions the Pontifical Mission Societies of the United States need to take going forward.

Here in Boston, we are so grateful to the wonderful people we have working in our office. Father Jerry Osterman is the director and, of course, the director of programs is Maureen Heil. She does such great work. Historically the Archdiocese of Boston, since the days of Cardinal Cushing, has been one of the leading dioceses supporting the Propagation of the Faith.


Thursday evening was the St. John Vianney cookout at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston. Every year we have a cookout, or a cook-in, for the priests around the feast of St. John Vianney. But this year, it happened to fall on the feast of St. Lawrence. Father Brian Kiely very graciously hosted this event again, and the men really enjoyed the opportunity to be together. There was a wonderful spirit among the priests.

 

 

Current rector Father Brian Kiely talks with former rector Msgr. Cornelius McRae.

 

Quite a cross-section of priests came, and we began with vespers and then had a delightful evening together.

In my brief remarks before the meal, I tried to issue a challenge for them to help us identify candidates for Pope St. John Seminary, which trains middle-aged men for the priesthood.

We are always very blessed with a number of new vocations coming to the diocese each year, and this year we have a pretty good group for Pope St. John, but it’s difficult for our vocation directors to reach that demographic. With the younger men, you’re dealing with campus ministry, retreats, parish youth ministry, parish schools and high schools. But trying to identify men for Pope St. John really requires the active participation of our pastors. They can then share those names with our vocation team.

 

Pope St. John is a wonderful institution, and I’m grateful that in the four dioceses where I’ve worked I’ve had graduates of Pope St. John. The seminary has ordained hundreds of men who would never have become priests otherwise. So, it’s a very important institution for us, and we’re so grateful for the wonderful job of the faculty and staff there. We are anxious to have our pastors be aware of the important role that they can play in helping to identify good candidates for the seminary.

In that same vein, Msgr. Bill Fay, who is on the faculty, has started a podcast called Never Too Late about encouraging vocations to Pope St. John. New episodes come out on the 23rd day of each month. Here is the link: https://www.grexly.com/nevertoolate

Until my next post

Cardinal Seán