Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Month: July 2021

Visiting the site of the Florida building collapse

Hello and welcome!

At the invitation of Father Antonio Nardioanni, the former pastor of St. Leonard’s Church in the North End, and Mr. Nick Ferreri, last Friday I celebrated the Nuptial Mass of Paige Ferreri and Erik Benotti. Unfortunately, Father Michael Della Penna, the current pastor of St. Leonard’s, was not able to join in the celebration because of a prior commitment with the Franciscan community.   IMG_8149

Nick and Carol Ferreri, the bride’s grandparents, and her parents, Kevin and Christina, are longtime parishioners and supporters of St. Leonard’s, and  Nick Ferreri played a significant role in the renovation of the church in recent years. IMG_8150IMG_8151

The wedding was a celebration of faith, family and dedication to the local community.   It is always encouraging to see young people join their lives together with a commitment to our Catholic faith.

Saturday in the morning, I went to St. Mary’s Parish in Dedham to celebrate a Mass for the 40 high school-aged young men from the Archdiocese of Boston and Diocese of Worcester taking part in our annual Quo Vadis Retreat. The retreat ran Thursday through Sunday, and Bishop McManus had come to have Mass with them on Friday.IMG_8148

The retreat takes its name from the account of St. Peter fleeing persecution in Rome. He encounters the Lord along the road, and Peter asks him, “Quo Vadis?” (“Where are you going?”). And Christ responds, “I am going to Rome to be crucified again.”

So, this retreat, which includes not only talks and moments of prayer but also group activities and games, is intended to help young men determine “where they are going” in their lives and what vocation God may be calling them to.

Sunday, I went to Topsfield to celebrate a Mass for the collaborative community of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Topsfield and St. Agnes in Middleton. IMG_8142IMG_8143IMG_8144IMG_8141

With us for the Mass was, of course, the pastor Father Dan Hennessey; the parochial vicar, Father Karlo Hocurscak; and one of our new transitional deacons, Deacon Maxwell Chukwudiebere.IMG_8145

There was a good crowd for the Mass and a great spirit in the parish. We are so grateful to Father Dan and Father Karlo for the wonderful work they are doing there.

That evening, I joined the Capuchin community in Jamaica Plain for a farewell cookout for Brother Lake Herman, who is leaving Boston to be stationed in Milwaukee.Herman.Lake-web-640x800

It was a wonderful gathering, and we wish Brother Lake all the best!

Monday, we had a meeting of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors with all the members throughout the world to thank Msgr. Robert Oliver for his many years of service in Rome and also to welcome our new secretary, Father Andrew Small.FrSmall

Wednesday, I went to the Daughters of St. Paul’s motherhouse in Jamaica Plain to celebrate a Mass for the Solemnity of St. Paul the Apostle. IMG_8140

They celebrate the feast according to the old calendar, and I was teasing them because I think that feast day was added because St. Peter somewhat eclipses St. Paul on June 29. So, they gave St. Paul an extra day, but now that has been replaced by the Protomartyrs of Rome.IMG_8139

However, I pointed out that St. Paul still has several feast days — of course, there is June 29; then, for some religious communities, there is June 30; and also the feasts of The Shipwreck of St. Paul, the Conversion of St. Paul and the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Paul. (I told them I couldn’t help but notice that St. Patrick has only one feast day!)

Among those who were with us for the Mass were the Provincial Superior, Sister Donald, and our delegate for religious, Sister Germana Santos. They have about 50 sisters in the community, and I was also very pleased to see they have three novices who are getting ready to take their vows – one Canadian, one Portuguese and one American.IMG_8138

It was a lovely celebration and, afterwards, I joined the sisters for a nice lunch.

Wednesday evening, I participated in a Zoom webinar hosted by the Franciscan Action Network entitled “The Covid Vaccine: A Franciscan Perspective.”FAN-Logo

We had a very interesting panel discussion, and I encourage all of you to watch it.

On Thursday, I departed for Miami, to spend a few days with friends and relatives around the Independence Day holiday.

Since I was in Miami, Archbishop Wenski invited me to accompany him on his visit to the site of the building collapse in Surfside, Florida, where so many people perished.

IMG_3415We prayed for those affected by the tragedy and met some of the relatives of those who are still missing. It was a very moving experience, but it was encouraging to see how the community has come together to help in the search for the missing and to try to bring comfort and solace to those who have lost family and friends.ImageImage(2)

We were also able to speak with a number of the rescue workers from around the country and from Israel who were working at the site of the collapse. I even met a firefighter from Newton who was there helping out. The Miami Fire Chaplain who is a very good friend of mine, Father Chris Marino, was with the firefighter who found the body of his own seven-year-old daughter last night.

This has certainly been a very difficult and emotional moment for the whole community. But even in these times of great challenge, we see how so much good comes out of people — in their generosity, courage and desire to help those in need.

The whole world has been following the situation closely. Last week, the Holy Father sent a message to Archbishop Wenski, in which he offered his “heartfelt prayers that Almighty God will grant eternal peace to those who have died, comfort to those who mourn their loss, and strength to all those affected by this immense tragedy.”

He also expressed his “gratitude for the tireless efforts of the rescue workers and all engaged in caring for the injured, the grieving families and those left homeless” and invoked “upon the entire community the spiritual gifts of consolation, fortitude and perseverance in every good.”IMG_8164

On behalf of the Archdiocese of Boston, we also offer our prayers and support for the families impacted by the collapse. We know that God does not abandon us in our time of need.  He is always present in our hour of grief.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

July 2021