Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: November 12, 2021

Fostering vocations

Hello and welcome!

Last Friday, I was happy to participate in a Come and See vocations retreat with 12 men that was held at St. John’s Seminary and St. John the Baptist in Quincy.

I gave the men a talk, and afterward, we had a question-and-answer session that went for about an hour-and-half.  It was a very good exchange, and I was very impressed by the interest of these young men in learning more about vocation and the life of discipleship.



The Vocations Office staff have recently revised and expanded our discernment retreats to reach more men and to provide for the kinds of encounters they are looking for today. For instance, they have brought the retreats out of retreat houses and into parishes and the seminary to make it more experiential so people really get to see the life of the priest. Also they will host these a few times a year. Additionally, they provide other retreats that are more individual to help men have time to pray and make an intentional decision.

We are very grateful for the great work of our Vocations Office in organizing these events.
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Saturday, I celebrated the funeral of Father Garrett Barry at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Norwood. Father Joseph Gaudet was the homilist at the Mass.



We were joined by many priests along with, of course, his family, friends and loved ones.

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Saturday afternoon, we had the Mass of Investiture for about 60 new members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Among them was Bishop William Byrne of Springfield along with six priests and two deacons from dioceses throughout New England.

Henry and Marianne Luthin were honored with the Order of Sepulchre Silver Palm of Jerusalem Award,  for meritorious service on behalf of the Order.

Last year we did not have an investiture ceremony because of the pandemic. It was very well attended, and the cathedral was filled with members of the order. I was very edified by the participants and was especially pleased to see a number of young people among the new Knights and Dames.

The ceremony was a little different this year.  Instead of using a sword during the ceremony, I dubbed the new members with the crosier.  I have to say, I miss the sword because it’s a lot easier to wield than the crosier!  But I think it was to modernize the ceremony and make it the same for both the men and the women.  Previously, the sword was only used for the investiture of the Knights, not the Dames.  Now, the ceremony is the same for all.


In my remarks at the dinner following the investiture, I encouraged them to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which is often a part of the spirituality of a member of the order.  I also thanked them for all their support of the holy places at a time when the Christian community of the Holy Land is rapidly declining.  As people are being forced out of the Middle East, and Christians are leaving to go to other parts of the world, the work of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre is all the more important for the Church in that part of the world.

I also spoke about St. Francis’ special love for the Holy Land.  It was the first province of friars that he established, and they are still there to this day, caring for the holy sites.  St. Francis went to meet with the Sultan because he was trying to bring the Gospel and peace to that part of the world.  We wonder what the world would be like if St. Francis’ approach had been taken by all Christians.

We are very grateful to our Lieutenant Gerard Foley for all of his work in organizing the investiture weekend.
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That evening, I also attended the “Light The Way” dinner for the Catholic University of America held at the Copley Marriott.

It was a gathering of alumni and friends of CUA hosted by President John Garvey and the three local members of the Board of Trustees from the Boston area – Deacon Stephen Kaneb, Sister Janet Eisner and myself.
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Sunday, I attended the wake of Katie Danehy, the sister of Father Richard Wilson, who died very suddenly at the age of only 52, leaving a husband and two teenage daughters.

Father Wilson is currently the Vicar General of the Diocese of Fall River, but he was my priest secretary for many years.  So, I knew his family very well and was happy to be able to be with them at the wake and pray together with them.
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Sunday afternoon, we celebrated our Wedding Anniversary Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. There is such enthusiasm for this event that I felt badly that we were unable to hold it last year. But we had a great turnout this year— including two couples who were celebrating 70 years of marriage!


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I told the people that, in my 20 years in Washington, I celebrated more weddings than any other clergyman.  So, for me, it’s a great joy to be able to celebrate this Anniversary Mass each year.  It’s an opportunity to thank the couples for their fidelity and the witness of their married life, which is especially important in today’s world where the institution of marriage is under siege.  Their witness of celebrating their anniversaries is a very important event for all of us in the community of faith.
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Also, that afternoon I met with Abba Tesfaye, a priest from Addis Ababa who was here to celebrate an important feast with the Ge’ez Rite Ethiopian and Eritrean community at the cathedral.


He has been traveling around the country celebrating with the different local Ge’ez Rite communities.  He was telling me that the community in Washington has now grown so large that they are looking to establish their own parish.
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That night, I attended a dinner at our Redemptoris Mater Seminary for parishioners of Immaculate Conception parish in Marlborough who are benefactors of the seminary.


Father Israel Rodriguez once again made us an excellent paella.


Of course, he told his famous story about how paella was invented by the Israelites, who picked up all the lobsters and clams as they were passing through the Red Sea during the Exodus.  (I think there’s a certain exegesis that needs to be studied on that matter!)

As they always do, the seminarians sang for us after dinner.  This time they even worked in an Elvis Presley tune.  But I made a request for the Salve Rociera, and they were happy to oblige!


It was a lovely evening, and I know everyone had a very good time.
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Monday, we hosted a CONNECT Boston event for college students and young professionals at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. The event brings them together with local Catholic organizations and faithful leaders from diverse industries and fields.

I gave the young adults a welcoming talk, and the keynote speaker for the evening was Professor Arthur Brooks of Harvard Business School.  He gave a wonderful talk on being a Catholic in today’s world.
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Tuesday, I had one of our occasional luncheon gatherings with our Vicars Forane.  I am so grateful to them for their important role in the archdiocese of promoting priestly fraternity, gathering priests for the vicariate meetings and supporting the priest in the parishes. We are very blessed by their generosity because they all have very busy parishes, but in addition to that, they take on the special role of Vicar Forane.

During our gathering, we spoke about the upcoming Synod on Sodality as well as some other practical pastoral matters.
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That evening, we had one of our St. Andrew Dinners at St. John’s Seminary for high school-aged young men considering a vocation to the priesthood. Unfortunately, I was unable to be there in person, and so I addressed them by Zoom.

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As I have mentioned previously, as groups of bishops are coming to Rome for their ad limina visit, one of the offices they have been meeting with is the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.  Father Andrew Small and the staff of the commission organize the meeting in Rome, and I join them by Zoom.  The latest gathering we had was with the bishops of the Czech Republic on Wednesday. I addressed them in Italian, and we had someone translating from Italian to Czech.  It was a very good exchange.

We are very grateful to Father Small and all the members of the staff for their hard work in putting these gatherings together.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

November 2021