Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: August 2, 2013

Concluding World Youth Day

Hello and welcome all!

Continuing where I left off in last week’s post on World Youth Day, Friday evening we had the Via Crucis at Copacabana beach.

It was a very beautiful and colorful event. Brazilians are very well known for their music and their festivals and, of course, their carnivals. WYD-CROSS

The Via Crucis, as well as the other events on the weekend, followed on that Brazilian tradition, with great music and customs.WYD-CROSSWYD-CROSS

At the Vigil, the Holy Father spoke about the meaning of the Cross and encouraged the youth to approach the cross of Jesus and let themselves be transformed by it.POPE-CROSS

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Saturday morning, the pope celebrated Mass with bishops, priests, religious and seminarians at the cathedral in Rio. 800px-Rio-Cathedral1

The Cathedral is quite a quite peculiar building, not like a traditional church. The cardinal next to me said it looked like an upside down ice cream cone. However, whatever it might lack in aesthetics, it certainly makes up for in capacity. I was told it can hold something like 20,000 people!POPE-MASS/BRAZILPOPE-MASS/BRAZIL

In the homily, the Holy Father spoke about three aspects of the vocation to the priesthood. (He seems to always like to emphasize three points in his talks. For example, on the Via Crucis he spoke about three aspects about the cross and then on the final Mass he also talked about three ideas on mission.) POPE-MASS/BRAZILPOPE-MASS/BRAZIL

He talked about our call to the priesthood and religious life and said it is important that we constantly rekindle our awareness of our call to a life of vocation, which we too often take for granted in the midst of our many duties and responsibilities. He encouraged us all to go back and remember the first time we experienced God’s grace calling us to our vocation and taking strength from that moment to continue our call with joy, and to share that moment with others in efforts to inspire people to consider the religious vocation in a vigorous and efficacious way. He said we should be very proud of our vocation.POPE-MASS/BRAZIL

He then made a call to proclaim the Gospel, and said that many of us came to Rio accompanying the youth. He said it is our responsibility to kindle in them the desire to become missionary disciples. To do that, we need to spend time and be attentive to their dreams and successes and also to pay attention to their difficulties and their sorrows. He said we need to be patient and listening, accompanying our young people. We must tell young people to discover the courage and the joy of our faith, the joy of being loved personally by God, and invite them to a life of discipleship.

Lastly, he spoke about the need to promote a culture of encounter; he spoke very powerfully about this “economic humanism that has been imposed throughout the world” that creates a culture of exclusion, where the elderly, the unborn child, the poor are excluded and not relevant. He asked us to create a culture of encounter where everyone is part of a family, without excluding anyone.

After the Mass, we had lunch with the Holy Father and then he gathered with all the bishops of Brazil.

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From there, we went to the Vigil that had been moved from the initial location at “Campus Fidei” in Guaratiba to the same location of the Via Crucis, at Copacabana Beach, because the heavy rains we had earlier in the week had made the initial location unsafe.POPE-BRAZIL/

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Photo by Gregory L. Tracy

Photo by Gregory L. TracyPOPE-BRAZIL/Just as the other activities of World Youth Day, the vigil was a spectacular event, with a very strong Franciscan theme. During the part of the vigil, young actors dressed as Medieval Franciscan Friars built a church, representing the Lord’s call to St. Francis to “Rebuild my Church”. franciscans

The costumes were very realistic, and all the “friars” were tonsured, as was the tradition at the time. Together with other young people they built this church on the stage that even had its own bell. It was very beautiful and inspiring.POPE-VIGILPOPE-VIGILPOPE-VIGIL

One advantage of having World Youth day in the Southern hemisphere is that we do not need to contend with hot weather. At the vigil the temperature was perfect and there was a pleasant breeze.

The Holy Father gave a very powerful address to the youth, challenging them to be missionaries. He made a comparison with sports and soccer saying that to be missionaries, they also need to train.

He asked the youth to be Christ’s athletes:

“Jesus asks us to follow him for life, he asks us to be his disciples, to ‘play on his team’. I think that most of you love sports! … Now, what do players do when they are asked to join a team? They have to train, and to train a lot! The same is true of our lives as the Lord’s disciples. … Jesus offers us something bigger than the World Cup! He offers us the possibility of a fulfilled and fruitful life; He also offers us a future with Him, an endless future, eternal life. But He asks us to buy a ticket to this future, and the ticket is training, ‘getting in shape’, bearing witness to our faith. By talking with Him in prayer”.

After his homily, the Holy Father called for a time of silent prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It was amazing to see how everybody respected that moment. From my place all I could hear were the waves of the ocean crashing on the beach. It was a beautiful moment.POPE-VIGIL

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Most of the youth spent the night at the beach, as it is the tradition at World Youth Day and the next morning you could see how large the crowd was, completely filling the beach and the boulevard that runs along it. Photo by Gregory L. Tracy

They say over three million people were present— it was as if you gathered the most of the population of Ireland together for a Mass! That was probably the largest human gathering in the history of Latin America.WYD-MASSPhoto by Gregory L. Tracy

The Holy Father again addressed his homily to the youth. This time, he spoke about the theme of this World Youth Day, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” and he focused on three aspects: Go, do not be afraid, and serve.WYD-MASS

After explaining each of them, the Holy Father finished his homily saying that if the youth follow those three ideas, they will experience that the one who evangelizes is evangelized, the one who transmits the joy of faith receives more joy and asked them not be afraid to be generous with Christ, to bear witness to His Gospel as they go back to their countries.WYD-MASS

The Holy Father read in Portuguese, but when he spoke, he preferred to speak Spanish. I was told that 70 percent of the population of Brazil watched the Vigil and the Mass, as well as millions upon millions of others throughout Latin America.

My sister lives in Mexico and she told me that everyone there was watching it live on television, eager to see this pope who shares their background and culture and speaks their language. He has shown for all the people a great joy in the amount of teaching that he did. Last week was an indication of the presence of joy in the Latin American people. It is going to be a great blessing for the Church and the pope, particularly in that part of the world, which is home to half of all Catholics. I am hoping that a Latin American pope can do for them what a Slav pope did for Eastern Europe.

In the afternoon, the Holy Father met with the bishops of the Latin American Bishops Conference and with the volunteers, before his departure to Rome in the evening.

I had a meeting in the afternoon with the group of eight cardinals the pope chose to help him reform the Curia in preparation of our scheduled first official meeting with the Holy Father in October.

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The next morning we had Mass with all the Boston pilgrims present at World Youth Day at the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which was the former Cathedral. Photo by Gregory L. TracyPhoto by Gregory L. TracyPhoto by Gregory L. TracyPhoto by Gregory L. TracyIt is a beautiful church, built in the Portuguese style over three hundred years ago. Photo by Gregory L. TracyPhoto by Gregory L. Tracy


At the Mass we had also the local priests attending World Youth Day, and the youngest of all, Father Stankard!Photo by Gregory L. TracyPhoto by Gregory L. TracyPhoto by Gregory L. TracyPhoto by Gregory L. TracyPhoto by Gregory L. TracyPhoto by Gregory L. TracyPhoto by Gregory L. TracyPhoto by Gregory L. TracyPhoto by Gregory L. TracyPhoto by Gregory L. TracyPhoto by Gregory L. TracyPhoto by Gregory L. Tracy

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That afternoon, I joined other bishops and cardinals attending a vocational gathering organized by the Neocatechumenal Way at one of the sites of the future Olympic Park on the outskirts of Rio. Photo by Gregory L. TracyPhoto by Gregory L. TracyPhoto by Gregory L. Tracy

Over 60,000 youth from Neocatechumenal Way attended the meeting which was conducted by Kiko Arguello and was presided over by the Archbishop of Rio, Archbishop Orani Tempesta.

After many songs and a catechesis by Kiko there was the vocational call, which is always one of the most impressive aspects of these gatherings. Three thousand young men and two thousand young women came to the stage showing their willingness to discern a call to the priesthood and religious life. Once on the stage, they all knelt down to receive a blessing from the bishops.kiko2


I was told several youth from Boston attending came forward at the call and I met a young man from Father Israel Rodriguez’s parish in Granada, Spain, who is joining the capuchin order there.

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The following day day we travelled back to Boston.

Wednesday I met with the Archbishop of Kingston, Archbishop Charles Dufour. He was the rector at the Seminary there when I was bishop in the Virgin Islands and I knew him from that time.BpDufour_1927

With Archbishop Dufour during a visit in 2010

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Last August, the Manchester and Methuen Provinces of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary merged to become the United States Province. 

I always like to invite new leadership of religious orders present in the archdiocese for lunch. It gives me a chance to get to know them better and learn about the work they are doing.Meeting with Leadership team of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary Aug. 1, 2013.
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

So, on Thursday, I met with the leadership team of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, Provincial Superior Sister Helene Cote, Sister Maria Rosa, Sister Claire Guerin, Sister Jacqueline Lambert,  Sister Marie Henault, and Sister Janice Perrault.Meeting with Leadership team of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary Aug. 1, 2013.
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

Sister Marian Batho prepared the meeting and gave me an opportunity to learn about their work among us. The Sisters have a school in Methuen, Presentation of Mary Academy.

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I also met Dr. Arturo Chavez, the president of the Mexican American Catholic College  in San Antonio, Texas.Chavez_Arturo_sm

This is a small catholic college that was created by Archbishop Gomez when he was the archbishop of San Antonio. The college was formed out of the Mexican American Cultural Center, the MACC, that for many years served the Hispanic Catholics in the United States.

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In the afternoon, I went St. John’s Seminary for the annual Vianney’s cookout.

The event is named for St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests and is a relaxing day of priestly fraternity that begins with a talk followed by vespers.

This year, Msgr. Dennis Sheehan and Father John Mulloy gave a very interesting talk about priestly ministry outside of the office of pastor.St. John Vianney Gathering at St. John's Seminary, Aug. 1, 2013. 
Pilot photo by Christopher S. Pineo.St. John Vianney Gathering at St. John's Seminary, Aug. 1, 2013. 
Pilot photo by Christopher S. Pineo.

St. John Vianney Gathering at St. John's Seminary, Aug. 1, 2013. 
Pilot photo by Christopher S. Pineo.St. John Vianney Gathering at St. John's Seminary, Aug. 1, 2013. 
Pilot photo by Christopher S. Pineo.St. John Vianney Gathering at St. John's Seminary, Aug. 1, 2013. 
Pilot photo by Christopher S. Pineo.

St. John Vianney Gathering at St. John's Seminary, Aug. 1, 2013. 
Pilot photo by Christopher S. Pineo.The day concludes with a barbeque on the grounds of the Seminary.St. John Vianney Gathering at St. John's Seminary, Aug. 1, 2013. 
Pilot photo by Christopher S. Pineo.

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Finally, I want to end noting that today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels of the Portiuncula, which commemorates the church that is considered the mother church of the Franciscan order. It’s where St. Francis really founded the order, where St. Clare took her vows and where St. Francis died.Portiuncula

The Portiuncula inside the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels in Assisi

Here in Boston, we have a replica of that chapel where Cardinal Cushing is buried because he wanted to be near buried near St. Coletta’s School. Hanover_Portiuncula_01

The replica in Hanover

I think this one is easier to appreciate than the original because it not inside another church!

One of my earliest memories is going to the Poor Clare Sisters in town with my grandmother where throngs of people would be praying on the day of the Feast of the Portiuncula.

St. Francis had asked the Holy Father to grant indulgences to pilgrims to the Portiuncula and the indulgence was the same indulgence that one would receive for going to the Holy land. St. Francis knew that a lot of poor people would never be able to make that kind of a pilgrimage and so he wanted them to receive those same blessing for visiting the Portiuncula and now the indulgence has been extended to all the Franciscan churches and chapels throughout the world.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

August 2013