Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: February 5, 2021

Hosting the Vigil for Life

Hello and welcome!

Friday was the day that we marked the 48th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade with the virtual March for Life, which was preceded by the Vigil Mass for Life the evening before at the National Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Ordinarily, following the vigil Mass, there would be an all-night vigil with the different seminary groups at the shrine, ending at 8 a.m. on the day of the march with a closing Mass. Of course, this year, realizing the difficulties of gathering people in Washington, we knew the vigil would have to be celebrated virtually. As a member of the bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life of Activities, I had suggested that we might invite dioceses from around the country to host a different hour of the all-night vigil.

Here in Boston, we were asked to host the concluding hour of the vigil — 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. — on the morning of the virtual March for Life.


We had invited our seminarians from St. John’s Seminary and Mother Olga and the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth to join us, along with Marianne and Henry Luthin, for a virtual holy hour that was carried on The CatholicTV Network and also live-streamed on the Internet. Unfortunately, because of a quarantine, we were not able to have the seminarians present, but we were very glad that everyone else was able to be present.IMG_1221IMG_1223

During the holy hour, we were blessed to have a beautiful witness talk by Dr. Kerry Pound, who is a pediatrician, mother of four and a board member of Massachusetts Citizens for Life. She gave a very inspiring testimony.Vigil-JTetrault-03

Then, at 11 a.m., we had a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Gift of Human Life, which was also broadcast from the cathedral on CatholicTV and online.

We were so pleased to be joined by the students from St. Paul’s Choir School in Cambridge for the Mass. unnamed (1)

We are very grateful for the many people who joined us through CatholicTV and online as we joined our prayers with those of Catholics from all over the nation that the culture of life may be advanced.

In addition to being the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Tuesday was also World Day for Consecrated Life.

A friend of mine sent me this beautiful video on consecrated life produced by the Spanish Bishops’ Conference. Though it is in Spanish, I hope many of you will be able to enjoy it.

Also that day, MC Sullivan and I joined the deacon community of the archdiocese for a virtual gathering to share updates on the coronavirus pandemic and public health circumstances.

We were welcomed by the director of our permanent diaconate program, Deacon Chris Connelly, after which I made opening remarks.


It was an opportunity to thank our deacons for the ministry that they are carrying out, under the safety protocols and by virtual means, reaching out to those whom they serve. We particularly wanted to thank Deacons Paul Pridemore and Tom O’Shea for their service on the archdiocese’s COVID Task Force.

This week was, of course, Catholic Schools Week, and as part of the observances, I had the joy of joining Miss Couette’s and Miss Mitiri’s second-grade classes at St. Agnes School in Arlington as a “mystery reader” on Wednesday.File_003

They asked me to read the book “The Night Before My First Communion” by Natasha Wing. It was very appropriate because, of course, at that age, the children are all preparing for their first communions. (As you might have guessed from the name, the book reads something like the poem “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.”)File_000(1)

After I read them the book, we had a time of questions and answers, then we prayed an Our Father together, and I gave them a blessing.File_001

It was a lovely event and very touching to see the great enthusiasm children had. We are so grateful to Father Marc Bishop, Vice Principal Durazzo, the teachers and staff at St. Agnes School for the wonderful work they are doing there.

As regular readers know, I like to gather several times a year with the recently ordained priests of the archdiocese. Normally, at this time of year, we would have gone for a day of recollection at the Campion Center in Weston. However, this year, we held our gathering online, during which I gave them a conference on The Beatitudes.File_000

We are so grateful for all the work that Father Bob Blaney does with ongoing formation. I always enjoy these opportunities to pray together with our recently ordained priests and reflect on our vocation as priests.

I would like to express a word of congratulations to Air Force Chaplain Father Robert Monagle on his recent promotion to the rank of colonel. We are very proud of the contribution that the priests of the Archdiocese of Boston make in serving our men and women of the Armed Forces.IMG_7761IMG_7728

Nine years ago this week was the episcopal ordination of my good friend, Bishop Donald Lippert of Mendi, Papua New Guinea. Mendi

I celebrated the ordination Mass in pidgin. (I’ve celebrated ordinations in many languages, but this was my first in pidgin — I hope it was valid!)unnamed (2)

He is a wonderful missionary doing fantastic work for the Lord under many challenging circumstances. For example, I understand that, in some of the villages, there is currently tribal warfare going on in which people are being killed. But the Church is trying to be present to people in the midst of the violence and the pain that they are experiencing.

Wednesday was the Feast of Our Lady of Suyapa, the patroness of Honduras. In our chapel here at the cathedral rectory, we have a statue of Our Lady of Suyapa, and I have celebrated Mass in her shrine.File_004

That day, I called Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, but I was told he was very ill with COVID and had been hospitalized. The news was very alarming, but I was able to speak to him earlier today. He has received Communion, and they are giving him oxygen, but he is feeling a bit better than yesterday.

I invite all of you to unite with the people of Honduras and his many friends and associates in the Salesian family throughout the world, praying through the intercession of Our Lady of Suyapa that he may have a speedy and complete recovery.

Friday evening, I joined an Ultreya, which is a sort of follow-up meeting for those who participate in Cursillo.

There were about 70 or so people with us and I “Zoomed in” at the beginning of their gathering to greet them, make an opening prayer and offer some brief remarks.  I am so grateful for the Ultreyas and the formation and sense of community they provide. They are the inspiration for so much of the apostolic work that is done by our Cursillistas.

This week I was pleased to finally have the chance to see the film Fatima, which was released a few months ago. Of course, it is the story of the children of Fatima, their families and the struggles that they had. The story was told in a very compelling way, and the cast was wonderful. Fatima

I was very impressed by the film and would readily recommend it to anyone, particularly for families to watch together.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

February 2021