Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: August 6, 2010

The Knights of Columbus annual convention

Hello everyone, and welcome back.

This week, we announced that our archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot, is now available on Kindle and iPhone. I also understand it will be available soon on iPad and smart phones.

The June 30 edition of the

Obviously, we’re delighted. Amazon reports that the majority of its hardcover books are now being sold on Kindle. More and more people are using e-readers and mobile devices, so it’s a wonderful way for us to be present in this new technology.

Also, I think it’s very fitting that the oldest Catholic newspaper in the United States is the first to appear on Kindle!

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On Friday, I attended the episcopal ordination of Bishop David O’Connell at St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral in Trenton, New Jersey.





Bishop O’Connell, a Vincentian and the longtime president of Catholic University, was named by our Holy Father Coadjutor Bishop of Trenton. It was a beautiful and joyous celebration. The bishop’s mother and brothers were there, as were many bishops and cardinals. Of course there were also many people connected with the Catholic University of America, including the new president, John Garvey, and his wife.




Trenton is a large diocese with about 800,000 Catholics. I am sure Bishop O’Connell’s great pastoral zeal and administrative ability will be put to good use there. He is serving now as coadjutor bishop to Bishop John Smith. Upon Bishop Smith’s retirement he will become the ordinary.



Coadjutor bishops are installed and ordained at the same time, so he is already installed as coadjutor bishop. His succession becomes automatic upon the retirement of the present bishop.

In some cases where a coadjutor becomes the ordinary, there will be a Mass of welcome or other event to mark the occasion, but that is only ceremonial. The reality is that the installation has already taken place.

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I returned to Boston to celebrate a Pontifical Mass for the Vietnamese community in honor of Our Lady of La Vang at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro on Saturday. It was the closing Mass of a Vietnamese pilgrimage to the shrine.

La Salette Shrine is a wonderful Marian shrine, not far from Boston in the Diocese of Fall River.

They have many pilgrimages for various ethnic groups. They always have an annual celebration for the Vietnamese community that attracts thousands of Vietnamese Catholics. I understand that nearly 4,000 people from 13 different Vietnamese communities were there for the pilgrimage this year.

It was a spectacular day. They had a beautiful procession carrying Our Lady of La Vang and a float to represent the 117 Vietnamese martyrs canonized in 1988.


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These martyrs were killed in the 17th, 19th, and 20th centuries — the most recent as a result of the Communist insurgence that occurred in the mid 1900’s. There are estimates that as many as 300,000 Vietnamese were martyred in the country’s long history.

They had many, many different youth groups at the pilgrimage Saturday. There were children dressed in beautiful traditional clothing.

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It was an amazing day in the midst of this hot summer. It was a sunny day, about 70 degrees with a cool breeze, perfect for an outdoor Mass.

We are especially grateful to Father Andre Patenaude and the La Salette Fathers, who are always very hospitable to us. It really was a spectacular event and I was delighted to be a part of it.

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After that I travelled to Washington to attend the Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus.

While I was there we had a Memorial Mass for Father Armando Llorente, the former leader of the Agrupación Católica Universitaria.

Father Llorente passed away in April and I went down to Miami for the funeral, but the community in Washington had not had the chance to memorialize his death. So, I celebrated the Mass for the members of Agrupación Católica Universitaria, a group with which I have been associated for over 40 years.

Photo by Daniel Sone,

We had a wonderful turnout at St. Matthew’s Cathedral and many of the priests who celebrate Mass with the Agrupación were there to concelebrate.

Photo by Daniel Sone,

My friends Manela and Tony Diez, who helped Father Llorente establish the Agrupación some 40 years go

Msgr. Jameson and Father Marc Knestout, the brother of the auxiliary bishop, were very, very gracious in making all the arrangements.

We were happy so many members and friends of the Agrupación Católica were able to come and offer prayers for this great priest whose ministry touched so many lives. He was truly an icon, a Good Shepherd and a faithful son of St. Ignatius.

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The opening Mass of the Knights of Columbus’ annual convention was held Tuesday morning in the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

A Fourth Degree honor guard processes into the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the Opening Mass of the 128th Supreme Convention Aug. 3.

From right to left: Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales of Manila, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Havana, Cuba, and Cardinal Edmund Szoka, archbishop emeritus of Detroit walk in the entrance procession of the Supreme Convention’s opening Mass.

Fourth Degree Knights stand at the end of the pews, as thousands of Knights and their families participate in Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Having the convention in Washington was very special because, ordinarily, they would have had the opening Mass in a hotel ballroom, but here they were able to bring the people together at a shrine that has many associations with the Knights of Columbus: the tower of the shrine was built by the Knights of Columbus, and more recently the Redemption mosaics in the dome were paid for by the Knights of Columbus.

In fact, Archbishop Wuerl, at the end of the beautiful celebration of the liturgy, dedicated a commemorative plaque to the extraordinary contributions by the Knights of Columbus to the shrine.

Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl serves as the principal celebrant of the 128th Supreme Convention’s opening Mass. Seven cardinals, more than 75 bishops and well more than 100 priests concelebrated the Mass.

Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, delivers the homily during the opening Mass.

The music was spectacular, but particularly the communion hymn that was sung in Polish. It received many compliments from the people.

After the initial Mass, we went for the business session of the Knights of Columbus that was held at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park on Woodley Road. There, Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, gave us an extraordinary report on the achievements, goals and aspirations of the Knights over this last year.

Using a gavel that belonged to the founder of the Knights of Columbus, Father Michael J. McGivney, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson officially commences the opening business session of the 128th Supreme Convention Aug. 3 in Washington, D.C.

The Knights of Columbus continue to grow throughout our country. The membership has grown to 1.8 million men. The organization has given more than 68 million hours of time and donated $144 million to charity. There are 14,000 active councils and, in this last year, there were 16 new councils at colleges and universities.

The Knights of Columbus are striving to give a deep spiritual formation to their members, and to promote family life, vocations, and the Gospel of Life.

Members of the Supreme Board of Directors and other Knights of Columbus leaders give a standing ovation following the supreme knight’s annual report.

During the convention, they briefed us on some important new initiatives that have been begun by the Knights — one for relief efforts in Haiti and the other to support the organization’s commitment to fostering a culture of life.

In the last couple of months, Carl Anderson and the leadership of the Knights of Columbus sent 1,000 wheelchairs to Haiti, and are scheduled to send another 1,000 in the coming months.  Now they have announced that the Knights also stand ready to provide prosthetic limbs and therapy for all of the children who have lost arms and legs in the earthquake. This is a wonderful humanitarian effort on their part.

The other initiative they are undertaking is supplying crisis pregnancy centers with ultrasound equipment so that pregnant women can see the images of their unborn children. Studies have shown that over 80 percent of women who see their children on the ultrasound will decide against abortion.

So, it is a wonderful tool to promote the Gospel of Life and is one more way in which we see the creative and resourceful endeavors of the Knights of Columbus to build a civilization of love in our country.


Bishops Uglietto and Hennessey at the States Dinner




The Knights have been supportive of so many different initiatives like this — the Special Olympics, blood donation, Habitat for Humanity, scouting — and they have provided millions of dollars in support of seminarians throughout the country.

They do so much good, but it is only at the convention that we are all made aware of these wonderful things.

One of the things that Carl Anderson said was that although the official Year for Priests is over, for the Knights of Columbus every year is a year for priests. They want to stand in solidarity with our pastors and our priests. I hope that our priests realize this and promote the Knights of Columbus in their own parishes.

We are very anxious to see new councils established in our own archdiocese, particularly since the councils that are being founded now are parish-based and are a great support for Catholic men. They also provide a cadre of able and willing volunteers for the pastors.

We hope that the Knights of Columbus continue to grow in our own archdiocese. Father Kevin O’Leary, rector of the Cathedral, is working to begin a council there, and we are very enthused about that.

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My friend, Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Havana, was honored by the Knights with their highest honor, the Gaudium et Spes Award, at the convention. He is only the eighth person to receive the award since its inception in 1992.


They noted his great faith and courage in leading the Church in Cuba through what has been some very difficult times and his role in the recent release of a number of political prisoners.


It was very good to be able to see him again. Cardinal Ortega had a chance to update us on their new seminary, which they have been working on for over 10 years. That will probably be dedicated in November in Havana.

He also spoke to us about his work trying to facilitate the release of political prisoners in Haiti.

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It was also great to see Msgr. Bill Cuddy at the Knights of Columbus convention; he was there with the attendees from the Archdiocese for Military Services.


Msgr. Cuddy will soon complete more than 40 years of service as chaplain to the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard and will return to the Archdiocese of Boston for an assignment here.  He was looking very official in his summer dress uniform!

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Finally, I am sure you have heard by now of a Federal judge’s ruling that Proposition 8, an initiative that was approved by California voters to uphold traditional marriage, was determined to be unconstitutional.

We understand this is a very emotional issue, but we were very disappointed to see that the judge did not recognize the rational arguments in favor of traditional marriage, which has been such a great source of good for humanity and for society.

Hopefully as the debate continues, people will try to understand all of the consequences of same-sex marriages for children and for society.  I pray that this debate which is so important for the good of our society will be productive, respectful and civil.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

August 2010