Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: September 14, 2007

A very full week

Hello again welcome all to my weekly blog post!

As you will see, these past few days have included many events around the archdiocese.

Saturday morning we had an ordination of three Capuchin deacons and two priests. They are young men who are stationed in Jamaica Plain, and we went to Yonkers, N.Y. for the ordination ceremony.


Many of the people whom they have served in the local community traveled to New York for the ordination. Msgr. Charles Bourque was there with many of the parishioners from Our Lady of Lourdes in Jamaica Plain. Some of the Knights of St. Peter Claver, members of the Black Catholic Choir as well as Father Paul Soper and members of his vocation team were also part of the Boston delegation. Of course all who were there were very happy for the newly ordained, and I was honored to be able to be a part of the celebration.



It was wonderful so many made the trip for the ordination

It was a very beautiful ceremony. It was, in fact, the first time that I have ever ordained deacons and priests in the same Mass. The ritual has that ceremony in it, and I know that in Rome that is very common, but here in the United States, those sacraments are usually administered separately.



The ordination was held on the feast of the birthday of Mary, which is such a wonderful time to have an ordination. It also happened to be the 37th anniversary of my first public Mass, held Sept. 8 at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the apostle in Washington D.C. The Mass was for Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre with the Cuban community.


It was a very nice way to remember my own first Mass, and in a special way to consecrate these newly ordained men to our Blessed Mother and ask for her blessing and guidance on their ministry.

– – –

Later that day, there was a wonderful celebration of the 50th anniversary of Catholic Memorial High School in Boston. The banquet was held at the Copley Marriott. The Irish Christian Brothers, founded by Blessed Edmund Rice, started that school at the petition of Cardinal Richard Cushing. Cardinal Cushing named it the Catholic Memorial because they were celebrating the 150th anniversary of the archdiocese at the time.



I reminded those at the celebration that we are now poised to celebrate our 200th anniversary, and we are thankful for the 50 years of wonderful Catholic education that has been the history of Catholic Memorial. Many vocations have come out of that school. In fact, Father Dan Kennedy, an alumnus and newly ordained priest, gave the closing benediction.


Ray Flynn and his wife Kathy stop for quick photo
with CM president Brother James MacDonald and me

One of the interesting facets of the evening was that they recognized a number of families who they considered important supporters of the school. One family had seven sons who had all graduated from Catholic Memorial! There was also a pictorial history that showed the wonderful accomplishments of the school over its lifetime.


Another photo with seniors Tim Sullivan,
Mark Mullaney, Brian Carroll and Brendan Ahearn

The school is flourishing today with over 800 students, and the evening was a great success. I was happy to be a part of it.

– – –

On Sunday, we had 27 men in our permanent diaconate program receive the ministry of acolyte. The acolyte used to be what was called a minor order in the Church, along with lector, porter and exorcist. Major orders were sub-deacon, deacon and priest. Now that has all been changed. We still have what are called ministries, and the ministries are acolyte and lector.


Members of the permanent diaconate class and their wives

By virtue of receiving the acolyte ministry, the men become extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist and can distribute communion. It is a very simple but lovely ceremony in which they are presented with the chalice and paten, and a prayer is said over them. These ministries have been a way of building up towards ordination to the permanent diaconate. I think it calls people to a greater seriousness in their commitment and their preparation. It is a preparation for what we look forward to happening in May when we have the ordination of this class of permanent deacons at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

I was glad to see so many people attend. We had the members of the English and Spanish programs together for the Mass. If I recall correctly, there were 10 Hispanic candidates and 17 English-speaking candidates.

Many of their pastors were present to concelebrate, which was a wonderful show of support. After all, it can be very difficult for a pastor to get away from his parish on Sunday.

– – –

Also on Sunday, I attended the wake of Dr. Robert Flynn, the founding president of our Caritas Christi Health Care System, who passed away after a long illness. He was a great leader in Catholic health care and much involved at St. Elizabeth Medical Center. He was also a father and grandfather of a beautiful family.


Dr. Flynn

His funeral was at St. Anthony Parish in Mattapoisett. I was able to attend the wake, pray for him and express the condolences of the archdiocese to the doctor’s family.

– – –

On Monday morning, I visited Trinity Catholic Academy in Brockton on their first day of school. I visited the classrooms and spoke with the students. It was a very joyful occasion to be there bright and early to meet the students, their families and teachers.


The tour started at the school’s Upper Campus which has the grade 5-8 classrooms


Trinity Catholic is the first of our schools to be revitalized through the 2010 Initiative. It is such a wonderful sign of hope. The Brockton project combined three schools — St. Casimir, St. Edward and Sacred Heart — into one school with two campuses. Both buildings have been updated inside and out, and they now feature state-of-the-art facilities.



The students were already working on their first lessons


The plan for Trinity Catholic was announced just seven months ago, and Suffolk Construction has worked hard for the past four months to ensure that the school would be ready in time for the first day of classes. The president and CEO of Suffolk Construction, John Fish, accompanied me on the tour. He has been such a wonderful support of Catholic education, especially of the 2010 Initiative.


John Fish speaks to the reporters who were on the tour with us

Brockton Mayor Jim Harrington was there, and he was very enthusiastic about the new school. Trinity Academy’s principal, Pauline Labouliere, who is doing a wonderful job, accompanied us on the tour as well.


Father Brian Smith of St. Edith Stein Parish
accompanies me on a tour of the lower campus


Brockton Mayor Jim Harrington being interviewed for CatholicTV

The school system in the archdiocese was in trouble, and we needed to come up with some creative and radical changes in order to shore up, strengthen and launch Catholic education in a new phase. The 2010 Initiative comes out of that, and right now the strategic committee is looking at a number of other regions. The committee is under the leadership of Jack Connors, who has been instrumental in helping us to launch this new school in Brockton.


Trinity Catholic is the first of a number of initiatives throughout the archdiocese that are meant to strengthen Catholic schools, improve our facilities and guarantee the future of Catholic education.


At the conclusion of the tour, I blessed the school and its mission

Among the media accompanying us on the tour was our archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot. By clicking these links you can read their story and see a slide show of photos.

– – –

On Monday, I had a meeting in Washington D.C. of the pro-life committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It is one of the committees I am involved with, and they do wonderful work. One of our topics of discussion was the importance of ensuring that voter education literature really captures the essence of Catholic social teaching and the primacy of the life issues. It is so important that our Catholic people have a firm grasp of the Church’s teachings on these matters.

A great deal of work is being done on the documents, and we had very fruitful discussions on this as well as a number of other topics related to pro-life issues.

– – –

This past Wednesday, I attended the funeral of Msgr. John Dillon Day, a priest for 68 years.


Msgr. Day

He was an extraordinary human being, a man of great passion and zeal for his faith. He was also so enthusiastic about the priesthood that when I first came to Boston, even though he was over 90 years old, he came to see me to offer to help with vocation recruitment. We took him up on that offer, and he spoke at some of the St. Andrew’s Dinners for young men considering the priesthood. He was as much in love with the priesthood and the Church after almost 70 years as he was the day of his first Mass.

At the funeral, held at Most Precious Blood Parish in Hyde Park, many wonderful stories were told about Msgr. Day. Bishop Joe Maguire, the Bishop Emeritus of Springfield, preached a very moving ceremony that was a reflection on his life and the priesthood. Also concelebrating the Mass were Bishop Robert Hennessey, Vicar General Father Richard Erikson and Father Peter Nolan, CSSp, pastor of Most Precious Blood. The Mass was very well-attended by priests and the laity, so many people who have a great affection for this man.

– – –

On Wednesday evening, I attended a annual Lawn Party for Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston. It is the 26th year that the seminary has held the fundraiser that allows benefactors to enjoy time with the seminarians who are aided by their contributions.



The school is a unique national seminary that is dedicated to preparing men who are at least 30 years old-. It is very impressive that this school has produced 500 priests for the archdiocese and for other dioceses throughout the world. Currently, they have 60 seminarians from 31 dioceses and three religious orders enrolled. Five of those men will be ordained for Boston this spring.


Springfield Bishop Timothy McDonnell speaks
with my secretary Father Brian Bachand

The two seminarians who spoke at the event, Paul Sullivan and Keith Cummings, moved us all and made us very proud. When older men become priests, they witness to a different measure of success.


That’s Paul Sullivan on the left and Keith Cummings on the right. Standing with me is Father Peter Uglietto, the rector Blessed John Seminary

– – –

Yesterday, we had the annual employee appreciation cookout for the chancery staff. We always hold it around 12:30 in the afternoon so that employees will still have the opportunity to go attend the daily mid-day Mass offered here in the chancery. Last year the weather was quite bad, and the event was held indoors to Bishop Peterson Hall. Thankfully, we had beautiful weather yesterday, and the cookout was held outside. The tables were set under a large tent in a large tent erected adjacent to the chancery.

The meal is always traditional cookout food with hamburgers, hotdogs, barbeque chicken and, of course, clam chowder.


I led the prayer before the meal and spoke to the employees about how thankful we are for their service here in the archdiocese. It is very good for me to have the opportunity to talk with them and express my appreciation for all they do. I very much enjoyed the event.

Finally for my photo of the week I have selected this photo from my visit to Trinity Catholic Academy. Her smiling face, and the many others I saw in my visits this week, serves as a reminder of the great importance of our Catholic schools and all those who work so hard to give our children the best possible formation of body, mind and spirit.


Until next week, blessings to you all.

— Cardinal Seán

September 2007