Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

New affordable housing for Dorchester and Haverhill

Hello and welcome!

It was a real joy this week that we were able to dedicate two new affordable housing developments of the archdiocese’s housing office, the Planning Office for Urban Affairs.

On Thursday I celebrated the ribbon cutting for 80 units of new affordable housing that was developed in Dorchester. 20151029StKevins_gm_163

This housing was built on the former St. Kevin’s Parish property, when Father Jack Ahern and the Holy Family Parish decided to have POUA use the property to continue the mission of the Church by building affordable housing.

Mayor Walsh and Lisa Alberghini, President of POUA, joined me for this wonderful celebration, along with many state and city officials.Dedication of the Planning Office for Urban Development’s Uphams Crossing development in Dorchester, Oct. 29, 2012. Pilot photo/ Mark Labbe

Lisa Alberghini


Named “Uphams Crossing,” the development includes 20 units of permanent housing for homeless families, and 60 units for working families who can’t afford the increasing rent levels in Boston.

Children from St. John Paul II Catholic Academy and The Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta Youth Parish Choir entertained the audience with great enthusiasm before the event!20151029StKevins_gm_010

To show how great the need is for this housing, POUA received nearly 3,500 applications for the 80 units.

Mayor Walsh, who has been very supportive of the work of POUA, was presented with stained glass from the St. Kevin’s Church during the event. 20151029StKevins_gm_071

A very special moment during the celebration was when one of the new residents, Christine Wright, spoke about her journey from homelessness to this wonderful new housing. 20151029StKevins_gm_114 - Version 2

She is so excited and grateful to live there with her 8 year old daughter, and told a very moving story. 20151029StKevins_gm_13120151029StKevins_gm_139

Supportive services will be provided at the development by St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children (SMC), making this a great collaborative effort among three Archdiocesan entities: POUA, Holy Family Parish and SMC.

I am so happy that the Church was able to honor the legacy of the former St. Kevin’s Parish and parishioners in this way and that, through POUA’s efforts, the archdiocese works hard to address the needs of the housing deprived.

Also on Tuesday I attended another Planning Office ribbon cutting with Lisa in Haverhill.

This time, the housing was created by converting a former school building into 12 apartments in a development called “The Apartments at 165 Winter.”20151102POUAHaverhill_gm_110

In Haverhill, Lisa and I were joined by Mayor Jim Fiorentini; Governor Baker’s Undersecretary for Housing and Community Development, Chrystal Kornegay; Tom Gleason of MassHousing; and Dori Conlon of Bank of America. Unfortunately, Representative Brian Dempsey was unable to be there because the Legislature was in session, but we thanked him for his tremendous support.20151102POUAHaverhill_gm_032

With Undersecretary Kornegay and Lisa Alberghini

For this new housing, POUA received 400 applications for only 12 apartments, which, again, just underscores the need for affordable housing in our communities. As Lisa mentioned in her remarks, someone earning minimum wage in Massachusetts would have to work for something like 110 hours a week (nearly three full-time jobs) just to be able to afford a small two bedroom apartment — and that doesn’t take into account food or other living expenses.

It’s heartbreaking to see so many people who can’t find decent, affordable homes. I know Father Murray from St. James and St. John the Baptist Parishes is working hard to bring attention to the need for more affordable housing in the area.

Again, at this dedication we also heard from a young mother who was coming out of homelessness. One of the new residents, Nicole Carter, shared her story with us.20151102POUAHaverhill_gm_093

Nicole said that when her daughter was just two days old she moved into the Emmaus Family Shelter, which was just one street away. While she was speaking she pointed out to us where her room was in the shelter.

Every day she walked by this property and watched it being built. She said she remembered stopping and praying for an opportunity to live there. Unfortunately, her husband couldn’t stay with them at the shelter, because the curfew rules didn’t allow for it as he worked an overnight shift. Thankfully, when she got into the Apartments at Winter Street the family was able to be reunited. So, in a way, having this new apartment did more than just give them place to live, it allowed them to really be a family once again. It was just such a very moving testimony.

After the ceremony I visited Nicole’s apartment and blessed it.20151102POUAHaverhill_gm_130

We are so grateful to Lisa and all the Planning Office Staff who worked so hard to make all this possible.


– – –

On Friday, I was visited by Father John Cecero, the provincial of the new USA Northeast Province of Jesuits formed out of the New York and New England Provinces. 20151106_03

I was very pleased to be able to speak to him and I thank him for all the help that the Jesuits provide in our parishes, particularly for the young Jesuits from all over the world who are here working with our different immigrant groups. They have made a great contribution to the archdiocese.

– – –

Saturday, I celebrated the Mass at the Pastoral Center for the Admission to Candidacy for men who will become permanent deacons.DSC_6882DSC_6885DSC_6884

There were 12 candidates including several from the different ethnic committees of the archdiocese. Our new candidates are:

Sermed Ashkouri of Our Lady of Mesopotamia Syriac Catholic Mission in Newton;

Nadim Daou of St. Anthony Maronite Church in Lawrence;

Osvaldo Fernandez of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Lawrence;

David Giangiordano of St. James Parish in Stoughton;

Robert Horne of St. Joseph Parish in Needham;

Charles Kelley of St. John the Evangelist in Townsend;

Hernan Mendez of St. Patrick Parish in Stoneham;

Jean France Philippe of St. Angela Merici in Mattapan;

Julio Sanchez of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Lawrence;

Francis Sung of St. James the Greater Church in Boston;

James Thompson of Sacred Heart in Hanover; and

Cristino Ynfante of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Lawrence.DSC_6890

We are very grateful to Msgr. Fay, our Permanent Diaconate Office and all those involved in the formation of our new deacons.

– – –

Sunday was, of course, All Saints Day, and I celebrated Mass for the Spanish community at the Cathedral. Afterwards, they had a fiesta with people dressed as different saints.20151106_04

– – –

Then, in the afternoon I went to St. John’s Seminary for the concert, Music in Remembrance of the Faithful Departed, anticipating All Souls the following day.20151106_0520151106_06

I blessed the organ, which is only recently being used again after undergoing renovations.20151106_07

– – –

On All Souls I observed the tradition of celebrating three Masses on that day. I always like to do this because only on All Souls Day and on Christmas is the priest allowed to celebrate three Masses – unless there is pastoral need.

– – –

Tuesday, I paid a visit to Sacred Heart School in Kingston.DSC_0799

I had not been there in many years, so I was happy to be back. 20151106_11

The school is run by the Sisters of Divine Providence, whom I know very well because, being a German foundation, in my province they were the sisters who worked in all our parishes – both in Pittsburgh and in Puerto Rico. In fact, there is one sister at Sacred Heart from the town in Puerto Rico, Utuado, where I had worked as a brother.

Cardinal Cushing helped in establishing the school, which is located on a huge parcel of land. It’s just a beautiful facility and I believe that, in all, they have something like 800 students in grades pre-K through 12.20151106_12

Pamela Desmarais is the President of Sacred Heart and they have an Early Childhood Center, headed by Sister Angela Provost; a primary school, headed by principal Kim Stoloski; and the high school, headed by principal Michael Gill.image (1)

With Father Walter Keymont, who does so much helping at the school and High School principal Michael Gill

I visited the preschool where the little children sang some very nice songs for us. 20151106_09

Then, we gathered with the elementary and high school students for Mass in their auditorium.DSC_0807DSC_0809DSC_0810DSC_0813DSC_0817DSC_0818DSC_0824DSC_0849DSC_0871DSC_0870

I also thought it was interesting that the highway there is called Bishops Highway and is Route 80, taken from the number of Cardinal Cushing’s license plate, which remains the license plate number of the Archbishop of Boston to this day.20151106_10

– – –

Wednesday, I was in Washington D.C. for an Executive Board Meeting of The Catholic University of America and, as I always like to do when I’m there, I paid a visit to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

I took some pictures of the chapels in the Basilica to share with you.

This is the Maronite Chapel.20151106_13

The Blessed Sacrament Chapel, with the image of the Wedding Feast at Cana.20151106_19

This is one of the newer chapels, the Italian chapel of Our Lady of Pompeii, which is just stunning.20151106_20

The Irish Chapel with Our Lady of Ireland sitting in the middle of a pool, representing the many holy wells in Ireland.20151106_21

This is one of my favorite prayers from the wall of the Irish Chapel.20151106_22

In case it is difficult to read, it says:

Holy Mary if thou wilt hear thy supplicant – I put myself under the shelter of thy shield. When falling in the slippery path thou art my smooth supporting hand staff. There is no hound in fleetness or in chase, north wind or rapid river as quick as the Mother of Christ to the bed of death, to those who are entitled to her kindly protection.20151106_17

I must have been in the Basilica hundreds of times, but I never noticed before that they have a statue of St. Conrad of Parzham, who is the only saint from our Capuchin province.20151106_16

I had heard recently that his statue was there, but I had never seen it. St. Conrad was the Porter at Altötting, the Marian shrine in Bavaria. And so, fittingly, right nearby in the shrine is the statue of Our Lady of Altötting.20151106_18

While I was there, I noticed a man giving a tour, so I waited to hear what he had to say as he went by. He was explaining that one area was all Jesuit saints, etc. and when he got to this section he said, “… and these are all the ‘nobody saints.’” Actually, if you know the story of St. Conrad’s life of humble service, you know he probably would have appreciated that description!

Also, as I was in the Basilica I took this photo of the shrine of Our Lady of Vietnam and the Vietnamese Martyrs, remembering that I will be with the Vietnamese community in Boston for Mass this Sunday.20151106_14

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán