Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: February 24, 2017

Remembering Msgr. Andrew Connell

Hello and welcome!

On Saturday I was visited at the Cathedral by Joseph Falcao, who was on the board of St. John’s Seminary as head of the Finance Council and has been very helpful for the affairs of the seminary.IMG_6748

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On Sunday, I celebrated the Spanish Mass at the Cathedral. IMG_0263

When I don’t have a parish visit scheduled for Sunday I often like to assist at the Cathedral. So I was very happy to be able to celebrate with them.

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Monday, I went to St. Theresa of Avila Parish to celebrate the funeral Mass for Msgr. Andrew Connell. IMG_6750

Monsignor is fondly remembered for his service in the archdioceses’ office of the Propagation of the Faith. He was named assistant director in 1959 and became director in 1972, a position he held for the next 35 years.

His tenure with the Propagation of the Faith was very long and very decisive. As a result, we have one of the most successful Pontifical Mission Societies offices in the country. Of course, this was in many ways begun by Cardinal Cushing (who had himself been director of the Propagation of the Faith), but it was Msgr. Connell who continued his fine work in growing the office and encouraging support of the missions. They say that monsignor would visit as many as 40 parishes a year to promote the work of the missions and that during his tenure, the donations to the missions from the Archdiocese of Boston would many times surpass those of the entire countries of the England and Ireland.

His great devotion was certainly also recognized beyond Boston. In 2008, he was the first diocesan director presented with the national Pontifical Mission Societies’ Founders Award and in 2009, he was named Apostolic Protonotary, the highest of the three ranks of monsignor in the Church.Boston priests gather for a convocation and day of fraternity June 10, 2009 at the Burlington Marriott. 
Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot
Boston priests gather for a convocation and day of fraternity June 10, 2009 at the Burlington Marriott. 
Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

Msgr. William Fay, who is the current director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the archdiocese, delivered the homily and, there were many priests and bishops there to concelebrate with us. Following the Mass, we had a beautiful reflection on Msgr. Connell’s life by Mary Bolles, who worked for many years with him.IMG_6751

Every time I go to St. Teresa’s I am always very impressed by the brilliant mosaics and tabernacle created by the late Father Raymond Helmick, the brother of the pastor, Msgr. William Helmick.IMG_6752IMG_6753IMG_6751

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On Tuesday, I met with Bishop Francis Kalabat, bishop of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, which encompasses the eastern United States. He was here with one of his priests visiting the Chaldean community in Boston and came to greet me. We were very happy to welcome them to the Cathedral.IMG_6754

During his time in Boston, he celebrated Mass for the Chaldean Catholic community at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish in Newton and he also visited with Mother Olga Yaqob who is, of course, also from Iraq herself.

The see of his Eparchy is in Michigan, which has always been a large center of Iraqi Christians in the United States, where there are about 150,000 Chaldean Catholics. Of course, the situation in Iraq has caused a great deal of immigration from that country because of the persecution of the Church there. It was very discouraging to hear his reports of how the people are suffering, with the destruction of churches, the intimidation that people face and the great number of people who are refugees from Iraq. It was very moving to hear his experiences.

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That evening, we had one of our regular meetings of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, at which we had a very good discussion among the members on evangelization practices in their own experience and the experience of their parish. We had a very lively and interesting exchange.

Also during the meeting, we welcomed a number of new members. I am so grateful for their willingness to serve in this important role in advising and informing me. We are very grateful for all the time that they devote to this vital task.

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On Wednesday, Father Carlos Suarez of our Vocations Office accompanied me to visit our four Boston seminarians who are studying at Our Lady of Providence Seminary in Providence, Rhode Island. It is a college seminary program so when they finish there, typically our seminarians from Boston return here to attend St. John’s Seminary for their theological studies.IMG_6756_1

I celebrated Mass for the seminary community of 22 seminarians from all over New England. Bishop Bob Evans was concelebrating with us, along with the Rector, Father Christopher Maher, and other members of the faculty. After the Mass, I joined the seminarians for dinner and a time of conversation.

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On Thursday, we had a meeting of our Archdiocesan Presbyteral Council. Among the many issues we discussed was the current situation of immigrants in our communities. Several of the pastors gave some alarming reports on the impact that the recent immigration roundups have had on their parishioners.

We are concerned the government is planning to hire more immigration agents to carry out these deportations when what is really needed is an overhaul of our immigration system.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

February 2017