Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: December 3, 2021

Greeting the Greek Orthodox on the Feast of St. Andrew

Hello and welcome!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Like many of you, I was able to spend some time with my family over the holiday.Blog_clan

As is our tradition, we gathered for Mass at St. Richard’s Church in Miami before Thanksgiving dinner.Blog_StRichards

A good group of the O’Malley clan was able to join us. After two years, it was wonderful to be able to be with them again at this special time of year when families come together to give thanks to God for the many blessings he has bestowed upon us.Blog_Family

While I was in Miami, I also had the opportunity to meet with Mayor Francis Suarez, who was just re-elected to a second term last month.Blog_Suarez

The Suarez family has been very close to me since my days at the Centro Católico in Washington. In fact, I celebrated the marriage of his parents and his own marriage in 2007. It was very good to see him once again.

Of course, the Sunday after Thanksgiving was the first Sunday of Advent. Blog_index

We chose the beginning of Advent as the moment for our own archdiocesan kickoff of the Synod on Synodality, which was marked by a Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Saturday. SynodalityMass-GTracy-01

We were very happy to be joined by a number of concelebrants, including Vicar General Bishop Peter Uglietto, and Bishop Robert Reed and Father Paul Soper, who are our archdiocesan point persons for local synod activities.

Also with us for the Mass were a number of the members of our Archdiocesan Pastoral Council accompanied by Sister Marian Batho. SynodalityMass-GTracy-02

In my homily, I talked about how this synodal process is a gift of the Holy Father to the Church. It’s not just a meeting about meetings, or a parliament, or a gripe session. It is calling us to be a listening Church — to pray, talk to each other and discern the signs of the times and God’s will for the Church and our mission in the 21st century.SynodalityMass-GTracy-04SynodalityMass-GTracy-06SynodalityMass-GTracy-07SynodalityMass-GTracy-09SynodalityMass-GTracy-11SynodalityMass-GTracy-12SynodalityMass-GTracy-13

In the days and weeks to come, we will certainly hear more about the synodal process as it unfolds in the archdiocese.

Sunday, I was very happy to join the Hispanic community at the cathedral to celebrate Mass for the first Sunday of Advent. I was accompanied by Father Marcelino, who works in Hispanic ministry at the Cathedral Parish.AdventMass-4

The Hispanic community is our largest community at the cathedral. When I am present, I’m happy to have Mass for them.

Monday, I met with Msgr. Kieran Harrington, the national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States. He was appointed last year to take over for Father Andrew Small, who now works with us on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. In his new role, Msgr. Harrington is visiting with bishops throughout the country to introduce himself and speak about the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies.Blog_Harrington

Here in Boston, we have a long tradition of supporting the missions, going back to the time when Cardinal Cushing was the archdiocesan director of the Propagation of the Faith. To this day, the Archdiocese of Boston is still one of the largest supporters of the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

I was very happy to hear that many dioceses across the country use the materials that we create here in the archdiocese to educate their people on the importance of the missions. We are very grateful to Maureen Heil and Father Gerry Osterman for their wonderful work at our local office of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

Tuesday, I was very happy to join Metropolitan Methodios and the local Greek Orthodox community for their celebration of the Feast of St. Andrew at Annunciation Cathedral in the Fenway. StAndrews-GTracy-01StAndrews-GTracy-02

Here in Boston, we have a long tradition of the Greek Orthodox and Catholic communities exchanging delegations on each other’s patronal feasts. On the feast of St. Peter, the Orthodox visit us; and on the feast of St. Andrew, Peter’s brother, we visit them. Sadly, we were unable to do so last year because of the pandemic, but we are very happy to be able to continue the tradition this year.

This year, our visit was especially lovely because we were invited to attend their Divine Liturgy. StAndrews-GTracy-03StAndrews-GTracy-04StAndrews-GTracy-05

It’s a beautiful liturgy that includes the procession of the icon of St. Andrew and the blessing and the distribution of special St. Andrew’s Day bread. (As some of you may know, five loaves of bread are the symbol of St. Andrew because he is the one who pointed out the boy with the five loaves and two fishes to Jesus.)StAndrews-GTracy-06StAndrews-GTracy-09

At the end of the liturgy, the Metropolitan offered very kind words of fraternity and solidarity and I, in turn, extended some words of appreciation for him and relayed the greetings and kind regards of the people of the Archdiocese of Boston. StAndrews-GTracy-07StAndrews-GTracy-08

We also exchanged gifts. The Metropolitan gave me a wonderful icon of the Annunciation, and I gave him a painting of St. Andrew.StAndrews-GTracy-12

Following the liturgy, the Metropolitan invited me to give a brief talk to the assembled clergy, and afterwards, we had a very nice lunch.StAndrews-GTracy-11StAndrews-GTracy-10

That evening, we had a meeting of our Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. The APC is one of our primary groups that gathers to discuss the life of the Church and make recommendations to the archbishop. It was very timely, as it came just as we were opening our local synodal process, and Father Paul Soper made a very compelling presentation about the synod and what our local participation will be.

Tuesday afternoon, I was visited by Msgr. Felix Ojimba. He lived with us at the cathedral for many years while he was serving as a hospital chaplain in Boston. Blog_MsgrOjimba

He still has family here and so is back in the area and stopped in for a visit. It was wonderful to see him again.

Wednesday, I was very happy to gather at the cathedral with a group of our benefactors who have been very helpful to the archdiocese. We had Mass together in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and a dinner in Cheverus Hall.


Mass-3Lynn and Bonaventure Agata bring up the gifts



We are so grateful to them for all they do, and it was wonderful to be able to gather with them as we begin this joyous Advent season.Mass-2

Mass-6Speaking with David and Judy Castaldi

Mass-7Greeting Brendan Swords

Mass-8With the Carons

Thursday morning, I had a Zoom call with the moderators of the various committees of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. TutelaMinorum

It was an opportunity to get a report on the preparations for the upcoming conference that we are planning in Rome.

Thursday morning, I went to St. Elizabeth’s Church in Milton to celebrate the funeral Mass for Msgr. John McDonough.  Blog_ProgramMany of Msgr. McDonough’s relatives were there, including his nephew and namesake, Father John McDonough from West Virginia. There were also quite a number of priests and chaplains there.Funeral01

Monsignor served the Church so well for nearly 70 years, including many years as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force. He eventually was named Chief of Chaplains and promoted to Major General. So, with us for the funeral Mass was Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services and Bishop Higgins from Las Vegas, who was formerly from the Military Archdiocese. We were also joined by Air Force Deputy Chief of Chaplains General Randall Kitchens, who brought the condolences of the Air Force. General Kitchens was accompanied by Father Bob Monagle.

Father Robert Blaney gave a very eloquent homily, which I would like to share with you here:


That afternoon, we had one of our regular gatherings with the priests of the archdiocese who have been ordained within the last five years. As we usually do, we gathered for a meal and a time of discussion and then concluded our gathering with a Holy Hour.Blog_Formation

This time, our conversation centered around the new study released by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University entitled “Enter Through the Narrow Gate,” which is a study looking at the challenges and blessings of the recently ordained in the United States.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

December 2021