Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Covering An Eventful Week – From A Visit From The New Consul General Of Italy, To The Saint Andrew’s Dinner For High School Students, To A Visit From Sacred Heart School Students & More!

Good afternoon everyone. I hope you had a great week. It was certainly a busy week here, but a wonderful and productive week.

On Wednesday night we had a fantastic evening with a Saint Andrews Dinner at St. Johns Seminary. The Saint Andrews Dinner events give the young men an opportunity to experience the seminary, to pray with the seminarians, to have a meal there and to be able to listen to witness talks by the seminarians. They are also an opportunity for me, as their Archbishop, to address them and to invite them to consider a priestly vocation and to pray about it.

These dinners are a wonderful opportunity for us to talk with young people, particularly high school students, who are already beginning to consider career choices and to discern vocations.

Dan Kennedy from Needham, Tamaru Atraga originally from Ethiopia and Hu Nguyen originally from Viet Nam each spoke to the group of young men. All three are currently studying to be priests at the seminary.

We were very pleased by the great turnout on Wednesday. The group was very representative of the diversity of our diocese Hispanics, Haitians, young men from all different backgrounds and from all different parts of our Archdiocese. It was very encouraging to see the auditory filled with these young men.


We had a great group involving students from: St Cecilia Parish in Ashland; Xavierian High School; Our Lady of Jasna Gora/Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Clinton; Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta parish, Dorchester; North Cambridge Catholic High School, Cambridge; Matignon High School, Cambridge; St Paul’s Parish, Wellesley; St Ann’s Parish, Somerville; St. John’s in Cambridge; St Joseph’s Lynn; St Francis Parish, Dracut; St Mary’s Chelmsford; Holy Trinity, Lowell; St Joseph in Medford; Sacred Heart in East Boston; Immaculate Conception, Marlboro.


The evening began with prayer in the Chapel at St. John Seminary.


We sat down for a very nice dinner together at the seminary.


The group had an opportunity to experience a bit of life at the seminary.


More of the scene at dinner.


The St. Andrew’s Dinner events are a great opportunity to invite young men to open their hearts and minds to the possibility of a priestly vocation and involvement in the Church.


It was a group of very nice young men from High Schools throughout the Archdiocese.

On Wednesday afternoon I also had a visit from the new Consul General of Italy, Libolio Stillino. Rather routinely, members of the diplomatic corps, particularly when they are assigned to the area, make it a point to meet with the Archbishop. It was a courtesy visit. Recently the Consul General of France had come to visit with me. So on Wednesday the Consul General from Italy came to Brighton. It was a very pleasant visit.

Libolio Stillino is a man who has had a lot of dealings with the Church. Hes just coming to Boston from Russia, where he was very interested in trying to create closer ties between the Orthodox Church and the Holy See. In Russia, he also worked very closely with one of the Catholic apostolic communities that we have here in Boston and working out the peace treaties in Mozambique. So he has lot of experience in the Church. He was very generous in his offers to collaborate with the Church in whatever way that he can.


The new Consul General of Italy, Libolio Stillino.

Additionally on Wednesday, I had a lunch meeting with Sr. Briege McKenna, O.S.C. and Fr. Kevin Scallon, C.M. They are very popular preachers of retreats, particularly for priests. They were here in the Archdiocese giving a retreat for priests, religious and lay people. They travel throughout the world and have made quite an impact on many, many people.

Fr. Kevin is actually a famous Irish singers brother in-law. Sr. Briege was born in Ireland and entered the Sisters of St. Clare in her mid-teens. For the past 30 years, she has been traveling throughout the world ministering to priests and lay people. Sr. Briege and Fr. Kevin have been working together for the past 15 years.


Sr. Briege McKenna, O.S.C. and Fr. Kevin Scallon, C.M. are very popular preachers of retreats.

Typically, priests will make a yearly retreat, which are days dedicated to prayer and reflection. Religious and many lay people also take advantage of retreats. Sometimes its a weekend retreat, as Sr. Briege and Fr, Kevin are giving here this weekend in the Archdiocese. I believe that they are expecting over 600 people for the retreat. Very often parishes have missions, which are sort of parish retreats.

Retreats are an important opportunity for people to deepen their faith and to take time, step away from the business and the distractions that keep us from concentrating on our interior life. Its an opportunity to review our life in the light of the Gospel and try to discern what God is calling us to do. So they are very important in peoples lives and I would encourage everyone to participate.

I want to share with you an account by Fr. Bob Reed detailing a recent pilgrimage to France for Boston Catholic Television viewers and supporters. He and Jay Fadden organized this trip. As you may know, Fr. Reed and Jay run BCTV for us.

From Fr. Reed:

The purpose of the trip was twofold; to give a large group of loyal CatholicTV supporters a deep spiritual experience, as well as to record numerous television programs so as to extend the value of the pilgrimage to countless thousands. BCTVs Kevin Nelson and Richard Brown traveled to France as well to share in and document this great journey.

The group flew to Paris and stayed in that historic and beautiful city for five days. During that time, in addition to side trips to Versailles and Chartres, the group had the opportunity to pray together and celebrate Mass in many places, notably in the convent chapel at Rue Du Bac. It was here that the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Catherine Laboure and revealed to her the image of the Miraculous Medal.

Saint Thrse of Lisieux is the Patron Saint of CatholicTV in Boston, and so it was only appropriate that the group traveled to that quaint town where Thrse Martin lived, grew in holiness, and died as a Carmelite sister at the tender age of twenty-four. It was truly inspiring to celebrate Mass together in the basilica looking down upon the town of Lisieux.

The journey was made complete by a two-day stop in Lourdes. There the pilgrims were able to pray the Rosary together, celebrate the Holy Mass and participate each evening in the memorable candlelight procession. The sick are truly VIPs in Lourdes, but we all came to that holy place asking that through the intercession of the Mother of God, who appeared to St. Bernadette, that we all might find spiritual healing.

It was a particular blessing to have among us Fr. John Mulvehill, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua in Cohasset, as well as Bishop John Boles with his lovely sister Mary. It was an honor for the entire group to celebrate the Holy Fathers acceptance of Bishop Boles request to retire. At dinner on the day of the announcement we all raised our glasses to the bishop for a grand toast.

The pilgrimage was made particularly fruitful by returning with eleven full-length television programs that will air in the coming months on CatholicTV. This effort will allow literally hundreds of thousands of people to participate in the fruits of this marvelous spiritual journey. Take a look here watch our popular show This is the Day: .


Fr. Reed, Jay Fadden and Kevin Nelson at the Basilique de Sainte-Thrse, Lisieux. It was consecrated in 1954.


A beautiful picture of the Sacr-Cur Basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart. It is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in Paris.

I want to thank Fr. Reed for sharing his account and for the wonderful work that he and Jay do at BCTV.

Jay does an interview show with me called Conversations With Cardinal Sean. He does a wonderful job and makes it very easy to do our segments. Its an informal conversationit is truly as the name of the weekly show reads, Conversations With Cardinal Sen. I know that a great number of people at the parishes do watch the show and appreciate it.

They do such wonderful ministry at BCTV, Fr. Reed and Jay, and the whole staff are doing great work. They are so dedicated and they make such a difference in many peoples lives, particularly with Mass and the Rosaries. So many of our shut-ins and those who may not be able to get out to attend Mass, are able to feel connected to the Church even though they are home-bound. Of course theyve initiated a lot a new shows to reach out to the younger generationsprograms for children and teenagers. We are very proud of all the wonderful work they are doing there.


On the set of BCTV’s Conversations With Cardinal Sen.


In “master control” at the BCTV studios with Fr. Reed and Jay.

Id like to answer several questions this week, each regarding very different topics.

Karen sent the following comments and question:

I just came across this site by accident. I am not a very good Catholic anymore. Maybe never was. But lately my co-workers have really been Catholic bashing and I feel the need to defend it, still. Why I do not know since I feel abandoned by my former Church. So, perhaps you could have a question and answer format some day before I go crazy? The latest is that Catholics are not Christians. How does one combat these notions. And where could I write to let you know why I am so angry at the Church?

I am always amazed by the assertion on the part of some Fundamentalists that Catholics are not Christians. We were the only Christians for the first thousand years of the history of Christianity. My definition of Christian is someone that believes in the Trinity and that follows Jesus Christ as Son of Man, Son of God, that believes that there is one God in three Persons and the second Person, the Blessed Trinity, is our redeemer and the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who is God and Man. Thats what makes us Christian. If you dont believe that Jesus is God and Man, then you are really not a Christian. But, that is certainly in the Creed that we pray at Mass every Sunday, and that was written by Catholic Bishops and a Catholic Pope, at the Council of Nicea.

Obviously Karen, your sentiments make you feel a Catholic and therefore you are reacting to these unjust criticisms of the Church. I would encourage you to try to become part of a faith community. It is by being part of a worshipping community that we find the strength to live the mission that has been given to us. When we are cut off from that, it only weakens our faith and our ability to be able to live and witness to that faith.

I also encourage you to get a copy of the Catholic Catechism. I believe that you may also be able to find it online as well. It is a very good adult explanation of the Catholic faith. It is very easy to follow and is well indexed, so that when you have questions about what the Church is teaching, you can access the topic and question fairly easily. Basically, the Catholic faith, our teaching, can be divided into the Creed, the Sacraments and the Commandments. So thats a very useful tool in our spiritual formation, our intellectual formation of faith.

But, certainly being part of a faith-based community is important. Karen, as far as your interest to write to me, please feel free to write to us at the Archdiocese of Boston, 2121 Commonwealth Ave. in Brighton, MA 02135.

Patty submitted the following:

Hi Father Sean:
With the recent celebration of the Feast of St Francis, my friends son asked me if animals go to Heaven. I believe they do but he told me that his teacher at a Catholic school told him they dont. I think shes wrong and that all souls have an opportunity to go to Heaven. Peace.

All living things have souls. We look at the human soul as being immortal. As somebody said, I had a dog, his name was Rover and when he died, he died all But, we are going to live forever, thats the difference. Animals dont go to Heaven, but they do go to animal heaven as they say.

Catherine submitted a comment about souls in Purgatory:

Ive enjoyed reading your blog & seeing all the pictures.
In keeping with the remembrance during November of those who have passed away, I was wondering if you could answer a question for me. Why is it that the prayers of souls in purgatory are not meritous and thus, they rely on our prayers? I know that the souls in purgatory are unable to perform good works anymore, but why is that? Thank you very much.

Its the Churchs teaching that they can pray for us, and they do. The opportunity for a person to live and perform good works is before they depend upon our payers. They are also praying for us.

In the Book of Maccabees, we read that prayers were to be offered to the dead, which indicates that the dead can profit by our prayers. If they can profit from our prayers, that means that those people are neither in Heaven nor in hell. So it indicates that there is another state of preparation, of purification, that we have come to call Purgatory. We dont know much about it.

Of course Dante wrote a very wonderful poem in which he tried to connect all the dots, using a great deal of Christian imagination. But as far as the official teaching of the Church, we do not know much about Purgatory, other than it is a time of purification and preparation for souls who are saved before they are admitted into the Beatific Vision or into Gods presence in Heaven. We believe that souls in Purgatory are saved and they are on their way to Heaven.

I was honored by an interview request from a group of Catholic School students who have a newspaper at Sacred Heart School in Quincy. They had contacted my office in March at the time of the Consistory and we were able to schedule a day this week to get together. Yesterday, this group, a wonderful group of 16 students, came to interview me for their newspaper.

They ranged from 4th to 8th grade and each had the opportunity to ask me whatever question they wanted. They asked good questions, from what is my favorite Scripture in the Bible, to where do you see Catholic Schools going in the future, to what my favorite Holidays are, to what do I like to do in my spare time, to how I decided to go into the priesthood? I had a wonderful time with the youngsters.

The youngsters were very curious about what a Cardinal or a priests life is like. I was happy to answer their questions. They certainly seemed like they are very happy and well-adjusted children. They seem to be doing very well in a Catholic School. It makes it worth all the sacrifices to keep our schools open and thriving when you see and spend time with young people like this group from Sacred Heart School, who are so enthusiastic about the Catholic education that they are getting.

Spending time with a group of students like this one also brings to mind all those who generously support our Catholic schools, as well as the dedication and hard work of our pastors, principals, teachers and administrators. Our Catholic Schools exist because of the sacrifices of the religious sisters that founded them and the pastors and parishioners who have made sacrifices to keep the schools open, as well as the teachers who perhaps could be earning different salaries other places and in other professions, but are teaching in Catholic Schools because they want to be a part of this mission a mission of passing on the faith and giving young people a good Catholic education.


We went around the circle and each of the 16 students asked questions.


The students were very well behaved and I thoroughly enjoyed our time together.


Future journalists?


Sacred Heart’s Principal, Mrs. Katherine Hunter, should be very proud of her students.


During our “interview.”


Patiently waiting for their turn to ask questions.


It was a joy to meet all of these wonderful students from Sacred Heart.


I enjoyed answering their questions. The students were very well prepared for our interview.


Group photo.

I had the opportunity to make a short visit, roughly 48 hours, to Florida last weekend for a family wedding. It was a very beautiful family event. The groom was actually my cousin, Deacon Robert OMalleys son. We had a lovely celebration with the family. It was very Irish as they had the harp music at the Mass and at the reception there was step dancing and Irish dancing. My 80-year old aunt was doing an Irish Jig with the young peoplelolthat was quite a scene.

It was a great opportunity to see my family and relativesand to celebrate this sacrament of marriage, which is so important. I was impressed at the faith of the young couple. They took it all very seriously, including the involvement of their families in the sacrament. While my visit to Florida was brief, it did also afford me the opportunity to have Mass for the Poor Clares, the cloistered sisters in Delray Beach.


Deacon Robert O’Malley, my cousin, Sara, Rob and Rob’s mother, Patty O’Malley at St. Andrew’s Church. Thank you to Jacquie O’Malley for sending the photos for my blog!


It was a very Irish wedding celebration. These young women performed Irish dances.


My 80-year old Aunt Marie. Believe it or not, she danced an Irish jig!

Before I conclude this post, I wish to send my prayers and thoughts to all Veterans of the Archdiocese of Boston and their families. I pray that God continues to watch over you and your families.

This week’s “Picture of the Week”…from my visit with the students of Sacred Heart School:


Well, I hope you have a wonderful and safe weekend. I look forward to sharing my post next week.

Until my post next Friday.

God Bless,

Cardinal Sen