Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: November 11, 2016

The Archdiocesan Social Justice Convocation

Hello and welcome,

The United States has a new President-elect and a new Vice-President-elect; honoring one of the greatest traditions of our democracy. I encourage the people of our country to offer President-elect Trump and Vice-President-elect Pence our prayers and best wishes for a successful administration for the United States and for our role in the world.

Just prior to the election, Pope Francis called for Catholics worldwide not to be paralyzed by fear, but to live with hope.  Our country has experienced a long presidential campaign, at times disappointing in both tone and style.  Notably, the post-election speeches of President-elect Trump, Secretary Clinton and President Obama all stressed the time-honored values of abiding by the democratic process and its results.  In these days following the election our nation has the opportunity to focus on the future, with a spirit of civility and confidence, joining together in recognizing both the challenges and possibilities that lie before us.

The diversity of American society, one of our greatest strengths and an important part of our international reputation, requires ongoing attention to the well-being of different groups and communities.  It would be short-sighted not to acknowledge the concerns of immigrant families and communities of color and the fragile state of many middle-class families.  Addressing these issues will require the intellectual and professional skills which our country possesses in abundance and the commitment to honor the dignity, needs and hopes of all members of our society.

The world has been closely watching this campaign and election.  The United States does not have the answers to the world’s deepest problem of peace, social justice and protection of the environment.  But the answers will not be found without America’s contribution, rooted in our economy, technology, democracy and moral vision of participation in global governance with generosity, compassion and wisdom. The Holy Father’s message, that hope inspires, is well suited for this time in our national history.  Let us look to the future with the grace and strength of God’s blessings.

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On the local level, certainly, we are disappointed with the outcome of the vote on Massachusetts Ballot Question 4, and earlier this week we issued the following statement:

We are very disappointed that Question Four was approved, allowing for the commercialization of marijuana in Massachusetts. It was and continues to be encouraging that our parishes and many of our colleagues in the ecumenical and interfaith community gave significant time and support for the effort to defeat this harmful legislation.

Anticipating significantly increased demands on many of the Archdiocese’s social service and assistance programs, due to the documented effects of widespread marijuana use, we will continue to as best possible provide for the needs of the people we serve.

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Thursday night I attended a dinner hosted by our Vocations Office for our local FOCUS missionaries and their priest chaplains. IMG_6514

FOCUS — the Fellowship of Catholic University Students — was founded by a layman named Curtis Martin in 1998 at Benedictine College in Kansas and has grown into a strong movement of evangelization throughout the country. There are currently more than 550 FOCUS missionaries at 125 campuses nationally and their alumni number over 20,000. We are blessed in our archdiocese to have missionaries at MIT, Boston University, and Harvard.

The missionaries dedicate at least two years after graduating from college to evangelization among college students, primarily through personal witness and Scripture groups. During their time they also receive training on how to bring the Gospel to others, participate in various service projects, and learn how to develop a personal prayer life. The formation they receive helps them not only become good missionaries but also helps them develop their own relationship with Christ.

After their training, they work directly under the Catholic campus ministry of a particular university to encourage the students to be involved in their programs and to develop a personal relationship with Jesus.

One thing that always strikes me about the missionaries is their joy at being a witness of the Gospel and how easily they share their experience of conversion in their own lives. Over the years we have had a number of missionaries in Boston and some of them have gone on to enter seminary or the convent to discern a vocation to priesthood or consecrated life. IMG_0665

With such a large student population in the archdiocese, campus ministry is a vital part of our mission. We are so grateful for all that the FOCUS missionaries do in helping reach these young people, who are so important to the future of our Church.

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On Friday, I had the opportunity to baptize the child of Christopher and Viktoriya Coombs.  They came with their family to the Cathedral and we had a beautiful celebration of the sacrament.  Chris is the chef and owner of a number of new restaurants in the city.


He and his wife come to the Cathedral for Mass, and it was a pleasure for me to welcome their son, Carter Michael, into the family of the Church.  May God bless him and fill his parents and godparents with all the spiritual gifts they will need to bring him up in the practice of the faith.


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Friday afternoon, I presided at the Memorial and Promotion Service for the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem Northeast Lieutenancy at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Mission Church.20161102EOHSJ_gm000120161102EOHSJ_gm000220161102EOHSJ_gm000320161102EOHSJ_gm000420161102EOHSJ_gm0005

When it was founded around the 12th century, the order was an organization of knights who protected the sacred sites of the Holy Land. In the modern era, the order continues that mission in a more symbolic sense, supporting the works of the Church, such as schools, hospitals, and churches.

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Saturday, I attended the Archdiocesan Social Justice Convocation at Boston College High School.SocJust2016-MLabbe_01SocJust2016-MLabbe_02SocJust2016-MLabbe_12SocJust2016-MLabbe_06SocJust2016-MLabbe_29SocJust2016-MLabbe_08

We are so pleased that this very important gathering, which focuses on spreading the Church’s social gospel, continues to grow and flourish. In fact, in the past, it has been held at the Pastoral Center, but this year the attendance had grown so much, that they moved it to the larger venue of BC High.

During the convocation, we honored Dr. Jim O’Connell, the president of Boston Health Care for the Homeless.


I presented Dr. O’Connell with a small reproduction of the sculpture, Homeless Jesus.HomelessJesus

At first glance, it appears to be simply a homeless man lying on a bench covered in a blanket. But, when you look more carefully, you see the nail marks on his feet. I like the sculpture very much because it is such a powerful visual representation of the way we are called to look past what may be our first impressions of the poor, homeless and disenfranchised and see in them a manifestation of Christ for us.

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Then, in the afternoon, was the Installation Mass for the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, the Grand Master of the order, was the celebrant and homilist.20161102EOHSJ_gm001820161102EOHSJ_gm001920161102EOHSJ_gm002020161102EOHSJ_gm002320161102EOHSJ_gm002520161102EOHSJ_gm0026

At the beginning of Mass, I pointed out that our two major stained glass windows of the Cathedral represent St. Helena finding the Holy Sepulcher and the True Cross on one side of the Cathedral, and then on the other it shows the Emperor Heraclius taking the Holy Cross back into Jerusalem after being rescued from the Persians.Cardinal O’Malley celebrates the Jubilee Pilgrimage and Mass for the Sick and their Caregivers Sunday, April 24, 2016 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. (Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy) Cardinal O’Malley celebrates the Jubilee Pilgrimage and Mass for the Sick and their Caregivers Sunday, April 24, 2016 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. (Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy)

We are very grateful that our local Lieutenant, Jack Monaghan, and his wife were given the Golden Palm award. Also, they presented a Silver Palm to my two priest secretaries, Father Robert Kickham and Father Jonathan Gaspar.

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Sunday I celebrated a Mass at Sacred Heart Parish in Quincy to thank our Catholic Appeal donors and volunteers. The Mass is yet another opportunity to thank those who give their time, gifts and energy to help support the mission of the Church.ATY_20161106CATY_gm0003ATY_20161106CATY_gm0008ATY_20161106CATY_gm0011ATY_20161106CATY_gm0014ATY_20161106CATY_gm0017ATY_20161106CATY_gm0019ATY_20161106CATY_gm0022ATY_20161106CATY_gm0035ATY_20161106CATY_gm0036ATY_20161106CATY_gm0047ATY_20161106CATY_gm0060ATY_20161106CATY_gm0063ATY_20161106CATY_gm0069ATY_20161106CATY_gm0081ATY_20161106CATY_gm0093ATY_20161106CATY_gm0098

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Finally, as I write this week’s post, I am in Mexico to address the Congress for the Protection of Minors being hosted at the Pontifical University of Mexico. I am accompanied by Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Father Hans Zollner, Msgr. Robert Oliver and Father Juan Molina from the U.S. Bishops’ Conference.IMG_695114976351_617930171744814_1979054147131318961_o14976443_617928891744942_2199547022365601758_o14991222_617923595078805_1702294752011133813_o14991406_617926295078535_4766535157734477020_o

There are about 450 participants, including vicars general, superiors, religious sisters, and people involved in vocations and child protection.15002451_617926651745166_5333164277514318150_o

This is a very important event, because the Mexican Church has a growing awareness of the urgency of effectively instituting programs for child protection.

Yesterday, I addressed the Mexican Bishop’s Conference, which is holding its annual assembly and, in fact, they have just established and institute here around child protection.IMG_6559

We are very happy to have an opportunity to share this important message.

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This church, La Esperanza de María en la Resurrección del Señor (The Hope of Mary in the Resurrection of the Lord) is nearby the Pontifical University. IMG_6521IMG_6522IMG_6523

Its impressive architecture lives up to its impressive name.

The trip also gave me the opportunity to visit with my sister, who lives in Mexico.IMG_6536IMG_6534

Last night, we met for dinner in the historic center of Mexico City and then she took me to the Palacio de Bellas Artes, which is just a stunning theater.IMG_6538IMG_6541IMG_6543


Until next week,

Cardinal Seán


November 2016