Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

The 2023 March for Life

Hello and welcome!

As promised last week, I’ll begin my post this week by recounting my experience at the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Thursday evening, we gathered in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the Opening Mass of The Prayer Vigil for Life.

Opening Mass of the 2023 Prayer Vigil for Life. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Opening Mass of the 2023 Prayer Vigil for Life. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

It was good to see Mother Olga and the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth at the vigil

There had been some speculation about the numbers at the march being lower this year, but that was not reflected in the vigil Mass — the basilica was completely full.

Opening Mass of the 2023 Prayer Vigil for Life. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Opening Mass of the 2023 Prayer Vigil for Life. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Opening Mass of the 2023 Prayer Vigil for Life. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Opening Mass of the 2023 Prayer Vigil for Life. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

At the start of the Mass, the papal nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, read a message from Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin on behalf of the Holy Father in which the Holy Father imparted his blessing on all those participating in the March for Life.

Opening Mass of the 2023 Prayer Vigil for Life. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

The Mass was celebrated this year by Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, the chair of the pro-life committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He gave a very inspiring homily, and Mass concluded with a Eucharistic procession and Holy Hour. And, at the end of the Holy Hour, Archbishop Lori of Baltimore spoke.

Opening Mass of the 2023 Prayer Vigil for Life. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Opening Mass of the 2023 Prayer Vigil for Life. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Opening Mass of the 2023 Prayer Vigil for Life. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

 


Friday morning, before the march, our Boston young people went to the first-ever Life Fest rally organized by the Knights of Columbus and the Sisters of Life.

Meanwhile, our seminarians from St. John’s, Pope St. John XXIII and Redemptoris Mater seminaries gathered with me at the Dominican House of Studies for Mass.

Then, around midday, I met up with the Boston group to begin the March for Life.

Thankfully, we had beautiful weather for the march, and the temperatures were relatively warm for January.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley leads a group of youth from the Archdiocese of Boston at 2023 March for Life in Washington, D.C. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Cardinal Sean O’Malley leads a group of youth from the Archdiocese of Boston at 2023 March for Life in Washington, D.C. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Cardinal Sean O’Malley leads a group of youth from the Archdiocese of Boston at 2023 March for Life in Washington, D.C. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Cardinal Sean O’Malley leads a group of youth from the Archdiocese of Boston at 2023 March for Life in Washington, D.C. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Cardinal Sean O’Malley leads a group of youth from the Archdiocese of Boston at 2023 March for Life in Washington, D.C. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Cardinal Sean O’Malley leads a group of youth from the Archdiocese of Boston at 2023 March for Life in Washington, D.C. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Cardinal Sean O’Malley leads a group of youth from the Archdiocese of Boston at 2023 March for Life in Washington, D.C. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Cardinal Sean O’Malley leads a group of youth from the Archdiocese of Boston at 2023 March for Life in Washington, D.C. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

The march took a little different route this year. We went around the Capitol and then ended in front of the Supreme Court.

I haven’t heard an official estimate of the attendance, but the papers were all reporting that tens of thousands of people participated. It was a huge rally, and I think a very important one to send the message that, although the Roe vs. Wade decision has been overturned, the work to promote the Gospel of Life and the protection of unborn children is an ongoing commitment on the part of the Church.

I thought it was a very significant event, and I was happy to see so many young people there with us, including a large group from our own archdiocese. As I always say, the march is a great help for them to realize that they are not alone in living their Catholic faith and that thousands of their peers are trying to live a life of discipleship. I know participation at the march is always very reaffirming for our young Catholics.


I returned to Boston Saturday. Then, on Sunday, I went to St. Joseph Parish in Lynn for a Mass to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Altagracia, the patroness of the Dominican Republic.

It was a beautiful celebration, and they had a lovely image of Our Lady of Altagracia on a float that they carried in procession. And, of course, there were many parishioners proudly waving their Dominican flags.

In my homily, I spoke to them about my visits to the shrine of Altagracia. I also commented on the fact that just last week they had had a large celebration with the Guatemalan community for the Feast of El Cristo de Esquipulas.

Following the Mass, there was a lunch in the parish hall that featured Dominican food and typical folkloric music and dancing.

St. Joseph’s is a wonderful parish, and they are working hard at fixing up the church. It really looks spectacular.

For example, I was so impressed with these pews.

They are probably 150 years old, and they are just stunning. The parishioners are refinishing them, and they are coming out just beautifully.


Tuesday, we had a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Catholic University of America with the new president, Peter Kilpatrick.

CUA is such an important institution for the Church in our country and has traditionally trained many of our teachers, priests and bishops. So, I am very happy to be a part of the Board of Trustees and participate in the various committees to help advance the university’s mission.


Wednesday, I was visited at the cathedral by Bishop Barres of Rockville Centre and some of his priests who were in the area to attend the welcoming Mass for Bishop Richard Henning, the new coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, on Thursday. Before being named coadjutor in Providence, Bishop Henning had been an auxiliary in Rockville Center.

Being a coadjutor is like being an auxiliary bishop but in training to take over the diocese when the residential bishop retires. So, in light of Bishop Tobin reaching the age of 75 and potentially retiring soon, the Holy Father accepted his request to send a coadjutor bishop.


Thursday was the feast of Sts. Timothy and Titus, which was a beautiful day to inaugurate the ministry of bishop, and the Welcoming Mass was very impressive with very beautiful music.

Of course, Msgr. Mancini and the choir of Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral are legendary. I especially like that the music there is very loud. In fact, even the bishop said that he thought that they could hear it over at Brown University!

There were many priests with us — Providence has a large presbyterate and many priests came up from Rockville Centre — and several bishops, particularly from the Province of New York, including Cardinal Dolan. It was very good to see Bishop Bill Murphy, the former Bishop of Rockville Centre who is originally from Boston. The new bishop’s parents were also there, and he introduced them at the end of Mass.

Of course, the apostolic nuncio was also present to introduce the new bishop and read the Papal Bull of appointment.

Bishop Henning gave a very beautiful reflection.

He has a background in the Scriptures and said that when he found out he was going to be Bishop of Rhode Island, he immediately went to Wikipedia. He said that when he saw that the state flag of Rhode Island features an anchor and the word “Hope,” he saw a message in that for him. And he talked about that theme from the Scriptures.

 

It was a very uplifting celebration, and we wish Bishop Henning many blessings in his new ministry!

Until next week,

Cardinal Sean

 

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