Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Month: March 2021

The St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast

Hello and welcome!

Saturday, I was very happy to celebrate the confirmations of a group of students from Boston University. File_000

At the same time as we were celebrating that Mass, they were celebrating the funeral of Rose Patek in Texas. Rose was instrumental in the building of the Betania II Retreat Center in Medway and, for many years, generously supported our campus ministry efforts, which included helping us to bring FOCUS campus ministry to the archdiocese.

Since we were having a confirmation for university students, it seemed very appropriate to celebrate the Mass for her and invite some of those who benefited from her generosity. So, to that Mass, I invited some of our campus ministry chaplains, FOCUS missionaries, as well as our former Director of Campus Ministry, Father Richard Clancy. Photo_IMG_3995

With Rose and Father Clancy in 2015

Sunday, I was very happy to offer the opening remarks and prayer for Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast. It was held on Sunday because, here in Boston, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just celebrated March 17; it extends for several days before and after. (It’s more like a St. Patrick’s Season!) File_003

Many of us fondly remember the days when Billy Bulger used to lead the St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast, with his great talent for telling jokes and for singing Irish ditties. But the tradition has continued and, this year, the breakfast was hosted by Senator Nick Collins with many politicians and other notable figures in attendance. File_001

File_002It was a very enjoyable event, and I was glad to be able to participate.

Monday, we began our virtual Lenten retreat in the archdiocese, which concluded this evening.

If you have not yet had a chance to participate in the retreat, I invite you to view each of the five sessions here:unnamed

That day, I also participated in a Zoom meeting on the important work of our Clergy Trust. Joining Bishop Uglietto and myself were our new executive director Mike Scannell, board chair Mark Vachon and our former executive director, Joe D’Arrigo. File_000 (1)

We are very grateful to all those who have worked so hard to bring the Clergy Trust to the place that it is today. We are especially grateful to Joe D’Arrigo, who headed up that very important initiative for so many years, and are very happy that Mark Vachon and Mike Scannell have come on board.

Tuesday, I joined the Bishops of the Boston Province for a virtual meeting with representatives from the National Catholic Education Association and the ACE program at Notre Dame University to talk about the impact of the pandemic on Catholic schools. The NCEA and ACE are holding these meetings around the country, organized by archdioceses and their suffragan sees. ACE Logo

They reported that all of the dioceses reported an uptick in enrollment because, unlike many other schools, Catholic schools are providing in-person instruction. That has been a very great blessing for families and has drawn more people into our Catholic schools.

It was a very interesting conversation, and we were very pleased to see our former Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Kathy Mears, who is now the head of the NCEA.

Tuesday evening, The Catholic University of America held their virtual Gratus gathering, celebrating the friends and benefactors of the university.File_006


It was a wonderful program highlighting the many positive developments at CUA, such as the university’s satellite campuses in Tucson, Arizona and Alexandria, Virginia, which allow a Catholic University education to be accessible to many more students.

Another of the segments honored the late Fred Favo of Pittsburgh, a former trustee who served with me on the board for many years. It was a wonderful tribute to a man who made such great contributions to the work of the university.File_005

Of course, the program featured many wonderful images of the campus, but the one that struck me was the replica of the statue that Pope Francis has had erected in St. Peter’s Square, “Angels Unawares,” depicting refugees and immigrants, which is now on the campus of Catholic University.File_008

Wednesday evening, I celebrated Mass for the young people from the Order of Malta who meet each Wednesday at the cathedral for Mass and then go out into the neighborhood to distribute food and essential items to the homeless.

Father Chris Peschel and Msgr. Kevin O’Leary concelebrated the Mass with me. We were also joined by Bill Grogan, the director of our Planning Office for Urban Affairs, because we were offering the Mass for the repose of the soul of his father, who recently passed away.File_009

I was pleased to be able to celebrate the Mass with them and give them a word of encouragement.

I also spoke to them about our new initiative, The Bethlehem Project, that we are launching to address the problem of homelessness. The initiative takes its name from the fact that, as I often like to point out, the Holy Family itself experienced homelessness in Bethlehem.

We took the first steps in creating this initiative today, with a meeting of our Catholic agencies and organizations who have outreach to the homeless, as well as some interested priests. We plan to conduct a survey, led by Father Kevin Staley-Joyce, among our own Catholic entities, parishes and religious communities that work with the homeless, such as the Order of Malta, the Capuchin Friars and the Missionaries of Charity.

The goal of the survey will be two-fold: First, to get an overall picture of what is being done to aid the homeless within the Catholic community, and then to receive suggestions for organizations outside the diocese that we can also engage in this effort, such as Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, St. Francis House and Pine Street Inn.

Based on those findings, we will organize a committee to be co-chaired by Deacon Paul Kline and MC Sullivan. Their task will be to study the issue of homelessness and come up with recommendations on how we can work closely with the other organizations in the community to overcome this problem. Certainly, the pandemic has contributed to the problem of homelessness because, so often, homelessness is tied to issues of mental health, substance abuse and income insecurity, all of which have been exacerbated in these trying times.

Thursday morning, we had a meeting of the moderators of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. We are currently planning a seminar for the bishops of Brazil that will be held next month.File_010

The three-year terms of our present members expired this past February, so this week it was announced that the Holy Father has extended them until next February. In the meantime, we will continue to study the experience of the commission and present recommendations to the Holy Father about the next steps in moving towards becoming an office of the Holy See.

In addition to continuing the terms of current members, the Holy Father also named a new member to the commission, Juan Carlos Cruz, a victims rights advocate from Chile. He will be the second representative of the survivor community who is currently serving on the commission. On the commission, as on our local review boards, it is crucial to have the voices of those who have been directly impacted by clergy abuse bring that perspective to our deliberations. An important part of the ministry of the commission is to try to make sure that the voice of survivors is being heard in the central administration of the Church.

It was also announced this week that Msgr. Robert Oliver has concluded his service as secretary for the commission, and we are very happy to welcome him back to the Archdiocese of Boston after so many years of working in the Holy See.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

March 2021