Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: September 30, 2016

Diaconal ordinations at the North American College

Hello and welcome!

As I mentioned last week, we were so excited by the response to the visit of the relic of St. Padre Pio, which began on Wednesday and concluded Friday, the very Feast Day of Padre Pio, at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, where the relic was exposed all day.

We began with a Mass in the morning celebrated by Bishop Robert Reed and I celebrated the evening Mass at 7 p.m. The Cathedral was truly packed, with people standing in the aisles and even hundreds of people waiting to get in. We’ve seldom seen crowds like that for a Mass at the Cathedral. It was really very, very beautiful.Cardinal O’Malley celebrates the evening Mass Feast of St. Padre Pio Sept. 23, 2016 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Pilot photo/ Mark Labbe Cardinal O’Malley celebrates the evening Mass Feast of St. Padre Pio Sept. 23, 2016 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Pilot photo/ Mark Labbe Cardinal O’Malley celebrates the evening Mass Feast of St. Padre Pio Sept. 23, 2016 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Pilot photo/ Mark Labbe

After the Mass the people came to venerate the relic, which went on until midnight.Cardinal O’Malley celebrates the evening Mass Feast of St. Padre Pio Sept. 23, 2016 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Pilot photo/ Mark Labbe Cardinal O’Malley celebrates the evening Mass Feast of St. Padre Pio Sept. 23, 2016 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Pilot photo/ Mark Labbe Cardinal O’Malley celebrates the evening Mass Feast of St. Padre Pio Sept. 23, 2016 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Pilot photo/ Mark Labbe

In my homily, I reflected on the life and ministry of Padre Pio.




Apart from the public veneration that took place last week, we were happy to be able to stop by and visit with the cloistered sisters of the Monastery of St Clare. We began the veneration on Wednesday morning at the Poor Clare Monastery in Andover and before the Capuchin friars departed on Saturday morning we stopped by the Poor Clare Monastery in Jamaica Plain.


The sisters were very grateful for the opportunity to venerate the relic. We thought that since they were unable to leave the Monastery, we would bring Padre Pio to them!



We estimate that approximately 30,000 people came over the three days the relic was here – at Immaculate Conception in Lowell, St. Leonard’s in the North End, the Pastoral Center in Braintree, and the Cathedral – to venerate the heart of St. Padre Pio.

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Saturday, I went to Fall River to celebrate the annual Red Mass there for those involved in the fields of justice and law, such as attorneys, judges and legislators.REDMASS_2016_0009REDMASS_2016_0035REDMASS_2016_0049REDMASS_2016_0073REDMASS_2016_0083REDMASS_2016_0085

I had initiated the Red Mass in Fall River 20 years ago, and so they invited me back for this anniversary celebration. It was also an opportunity for me to see many of my former parishioners.REDMASS_2016_0024

As it turns out, it was also the second anniversary of the installation of Bishop Edgar da Cunha. Since I had installed him two years earlier, I was also very happy to be able to congratulate him and thank him for all his wonderful ministry in the Diocese of Fall River.

I was happy to celebrate the Red Mass, which is a wonderful tradition in the Church.

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On Sunday we had our annual Mass for couples celebrating their 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries at the Cathedral. The Cathedral was full with the couples and families who came to celebrate their special anniversary.

It is always a beautiful and joyful celebration as people come from all over the archdiocese to renew their marriage vows and to receive a special blessing.20160925AnniversaryMass_gm005720160925AnniversaryMass_gm005220160925AnniversaryMass_gm005320160925AnniversaryMass_gm005420160925AnniversaryMass_gm005520160925AnniversaryMass_gm0056

This Mass is always a wonderful opportunity for us to uphold the importance of the vocation of marriage in the Church and to congratulate and thank our Catholic couples who have given such a witness of their faith and their commitment to the Sacrament of Matrimony.

– – –

On Monday, I traveled to Chicago to deliver the keynote at the Catholic Extension 2016 Mission Bishops’ Conference. Every two years they hold this meeting of all the home mission dioceses, which are dioceses that are under-resourced and that are supported by the Catholic Extension Society.IMG_6404FullSizeRender (1)

With Archbishop Cupich


As I always like to say, when I arrived in the Virgin Islands the total diocesan budget was $30,000 a year and with that, I had to support myself, the retired bishop, the nun who was the chancellor and two seminarians. You can imagine that I was very grateful for the aid I received from Catholic Extension. So, when they asked me to come and give the keynote, I was happy to be able to support their efforts.

– – –

From there I left for Rome, where, Thursday morning, I celebrated the ordination of 30 deacons from the Pontifical North American College at St. Peter’s Basilica, including two of our seminarians from Boston, Kevin Leaver and Michael Zimmerman.

The Mass was held at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter. The only time I had celebrated there was concelebrating with the Holy Father, so it was a great privilege to have that opportunity.PNACDeacons_20160929_ZB_516PNACDeacons_LS-20160929-0709PNACDeacons_LS-20160929-0739PNACDeacons_LS-20160929-0743PNACDeacons_LS-20160929-0782PNACDeacons_LS-20160929-0903PNACDeacons_LS-20160929-0896PNACDeacons_LS-20160929-0912PNACDeacons_LS-20160929-1092PNACDeacons_LS-20160929-1319PNACDeacons_LS-20160929-1323

The annual ordination of the deacons is a great and important celebration for the North American College and many friends and relatives of the seminarians come from the states to be there for the event. Also, in addition to the deacons’ families, a number of our priests from the Archdiocese of Boston came to be present, including Father Bob Monagle, who is a military chaplain in Aviano here in Italy.


With our our Boston new deacons,
Michael Zimmerman and Kevin Leaver


The Pontifical North American College is the largest seminary for the United States, with about 250 students from all over our country, and some from Australia, who are studying for the priesthood. It’s a privileged place, allowing for the opportunity to study in Rome and to experience the catholicity of the Church, as well as be close to the Holy Father and his ministry as the successor of St. Peter.

– – –

While I was in Rome, I took the opportunity to attend some other events.

Wednesday evening the Catholic University of America’s Board of Trustees was in Rome for the dedication of CUA’s new Rome Center, which is on the Gianicolo.CUA Rome Center in Italy

There was a dinner for the members of the board of trustees and, since I am the president, I was happy to join them. It was also President John Garvey’s birthday, so it was nice to be together with him and the other board members, including Stephen Kaneb from Boston.

It was held in a restaurant which is built on the very site where the Theater of Pompey once stood and it is the place where Julius Caesar was assassinated. (One of the board members offered to recite the funeral speech from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in honor of the occasion!)IMG_6433-2

At the restaurant, they have a model of what the site looked like originally, though all that remains today is one pillar.IMG_6434

– – –

On Wednesday night, EWTN dedicated their new Rome Bureau just on Via della Conciliazione. It’s a wonderful facility with lots of rooftop space.

They held a reception for those involved with communications at the Vatican and the American community, including Ambassador Ken Hackett.

It was a very nice evening and Michael Warsaw, the president of EWTN, in his remarks mentioned something that Mother Angelica used to say: “You have to dare to do the ridiculous, so that God can do the miraculous.”IMG_6412

And that is certainly a very apt description of what Mother Angelica accomplished – that, as a cloistered nun, she managed to accomplish what the U.S. Bishops Conference and the largest Catholic foundations tried to do, but were unable. I’m sure she is smiling down at this wonderful center that has been opened in Rome.

– – –

And, while walking through the streets of Rome we looked into a restaurant and there they were — President Obama, President Putin and Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian Prime Minister, all together and dressed in Roman costumes. We had a great laugh with this example of kitsch Roman art.IMG_6406

– – –

Finally, this evening I will be celebrating Mass at my titular church, Santa Maria Della Vittoria. There, they have a very special connection with St. Therese the Little Flower, because it is a Carmelite church and it is the church that she visited when she made her pilgrimage to Rome during which she asked Pope Leo XIII to allow her to be admitted to the convent when she was only 15 years old.

The feast day is actually Saturday, Oct. 1 but we are anticipating it Friday night because I will be returning tomorrow to Boston to be present for the 150th anniversary of St. Mary’s Parish in Dedham. I’ll be sure to share the details and photos of that Mass with you next week!

– Cardinal Seán

September 2016