Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Month: July 2010

Bidding farewell to Coach Cotter

Greetings, once again.

On Thursday, I met with new president of Merrimack College, Dr. Christopher Hopey.


With Dr. Hopey and Father Raymond Delugos of Merrimack College

Prior to coming to Merrimack, Dr. Hopey was vice president and dean at Northeastern University, where he oversaw many of the university’s academic programs. Before that he was vice dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania.

Merrimack was established by the Augustinians shortly after the end of World War II. I am very pleased that the friars have recommitted to their sponsorship and support of Merrimack College, and hope to send more religious there.

– – –

Friday, I attended the funeral Mass of long-time BC High football coach Jim Cotter, who passed away after a long bout with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.


His funeral Mass was in the McNeice Pavilion at BC High where he had spent decades working with young men there as a history teacher, guidance counselor and coach.

Photo by Patrick E. O'Connor

Although I was somewhat surprised when I heard of the venue, when I saw the number of people who were there I realized that not many churches could have accommodated that size crowd. And besides, the funeral was at the place where he had served so many for so long.

Photo by Patrick E. O'Connor

Fr. Myles Sheehan S.J., Provincial for the Jesuits of the New England Province, was the principal celebrant and offered a wonderful homily that focused us on the faith that sustained Coach Cotter. Coach’s daughter, Grace Cotter Regan, offered a heartfelt and moving reflection; her words gave great honor to her father and were a tribute to his many achievements.

In my comments I mentioned that Lou Gehrig’s Disease is such a terrible disease that induces many people to embrace immoral solutions such as physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.

However, in the case of Coach Cotter, he was surrounded with love and his long suffering was a witness of courage and faith, and of the preciousness of human life. His family was there with him.

Photo by Patrick E. O'Connor

He was an outstanding Catholic layman. We think of the generations of priests and religious brothers and sisters that have run these schools; but here is a layman who, for his whole life, has given to Catholic education. His faith and sense of mission were foremost in his life. The outpouring of support for him and tribute of his funeral were a very striking witness to the whole community.

May he rest in peace.

– – –

That afternoon, Sister Olga Yaqob and a group from Boston University came to visit me at the Cathedral.

They brought me a beautiful icon for the Year for Priests.


They had originally planned to give it to me at their closing celebration of the Year for Priests but unfortunately, I was called away to the funeral of an old friend at the same time I was supposed to visit BU.

The icon was written (an iconographer will tell you icons are “written”, not painted or drawn) by Marek Czarnecki, the same iconographer who gave the USCCB the rights to use the image of his Icon of Christ the High Priest during the Year for Priests. It is based on a 15th century Greek prototype.

Sister Olga explained that Marek first wrote this Icon about seven years ago for seminarians and priests to be able to see Christ in themselves and themselves in Christ.

It is truly a beautiful image. I have placed it in the chapel at the Cathedral rectory.



Sister’s group of young people (one of whom was the sister of Father Jonathan Gaspar, one of my priest secretaries) are very much involved in promoting vocations and giving great witness of the Catholic faith at BU.


It is always a great pleasure to be with them.

– – –

Sunday, I celebrated Mass for the Sisters of St. Joseph at Bethany Health Care Center, their assisted living residence in Framingham.


The Sisters of St. Joseph have a remarkable retirement home for their sisters. Members of other religious communities and lay people live there too, though the majority of the residents are Sisters of St. Joseph.

The sisters told me that every year there is an inspection of all the nursing homes in the state and theirs is always rated among the best.

We had a lovely Mass with the sisters and those who were unable to come to the chapel had closed-circuit televisions, so they could watch the Mass from their rooms.



Afterwards, I went around visiting the sisters in their various units.

A number of sisters are over 100, and one of them I met is still very active.

These sisters have given so much to Catholic education and were the teachers of thousands upon thousands of people who were the beneficiaries of Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Boston. It was wonderful to be with them and to celebrate the Eucharist with them.

– – –

That afternoon at the Cathedral chapel, I baptized Charles Robert Phelps, the second child of Joshua and Meredith Phelps. Josh works in our pastoral planning department.


The godparents were Josh’s brother, Jeff, and Meredith’s sister, Becca Lee.

As I told them, in the early Church the bishops used to do all baptisms and confirmations, and they were both administered at the same time.

Over the years in the Latin rite, we have separated confirmations and baptisms, but bishops still do the confirmations.





For me it is always a great joy to still be able to do baptisms, the moment when our spiritual journey with Christ really begins.

– – –

That evening, I had dinner with some of the Capuchin friars of my province. They were in the area because of their involvement in Steubenville East, a conference for teens and parish youth ministers that was held that weekend at the University of Rhode Island.  It is organized by Life Teen.

A number of young people from our archdiocese were there as well. I asked them to share some of their photos of the event with you.








– – –

Later that evening, I joined the active and retired bishops in the archdiocese, and our two new bishops-elect, for a social evening at St. James Rectory in the Chinatown section of Boston. Bishop Robert Hennessey, Auxiliary Bishop for the Central Region, hosted the evening of prayer, camaraderie and dinner. The dinner was facilitated by seminarians who assist Bishop Hennessey from time to time.  (Though I did not join them for dinner because I had already eaten.)


At Bishop Hennessey’s request, there was no agenda for the evening and no meeting, just a time for fraternity, and no one objected to that!  I am grateful for his having provided us the time together.

– – –

On Wednesday, we rededicated St. Therese Chapel, a chapel run by the Carmelites at the North Shore Mall in Peabody.

Carmelite_ (3)

They have refurbished the chapel and it is lovely.


They were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the chapel that the Carmelite friars have been staffing for 50 years since Cardinal Cushing initiated it at that mall. I understand the Carmelites are one of only two remaining original tenants of the mall.


Cardinal Cushing with plans for the new Carmelite Chapel in 1959


The place was packed with people. They do an extraordinary ministry there with the Eucharist, confession, adoration, and prayer groups. Also, they have a Catholic gift shop there. It really is a very important presence at the mall.

Carmelite_02 (1)



Masses are offered there three times per day, with confessions 30 minutes before each Mass. Saturday vigil Masses are offered at 4:00 and 5:30.

We have three such ministries in the archdiocese, including the North Shore Mall.

The Oblates of the Virgin Mary are running the St. Francis Chapel at the Prudential Center in the Back Bay.


And the Atonement Friars staff the Chapel of Our Savior at the Westgate Mall in Brockton.


This is a very important ministry. Many people take advantage of the accessibility of these facilities when they are out shopping and with their families. It really is a great service. We are grateful to the three religious communities for staffing these chapels.

– – –

Also on Wednesday, Father Gabe Troy celebrated Mass at the Cathedral for Peruvian Independence Day. For me, being at the Mass brought back memories of the many years I was in Washington. I used to celebrate the 28 de Julio (the 28th of July) with the Peruvian community there.


The Peruvian government has a huge estate in the center of northwest Washington. It is a very unusual site for an embassy and they have an incredible amount of land.

We would have the Mass on the embassy grounds and they would invite all of the Peruvians in Washington for the Mass and a big reception afterwards,  of course serving Inca Cola, chicha morada and ceviche! So, it brought back many memories.

– – –

And finally, you may remember from last week’s post that I officiated at the wedding of the daughter of Peter and Carolyn Lynch, Elizabeth, to Count Gonzague de Montrichard. Unfortunately, the photos weren’t available in time for last week’s post, but they were kind enough to send some along earlier this week.

I thought you might enjoy seeing them:


Peter walking Elizabeth down the aisle




The ceremony was at Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Marblehead


Peter and Carolyn


Carolyn proclaiming a reading





The choir from St. Paul’s in Cambridge


Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

July 2010