Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: July 22, 2022

Summer festivals

Hello and welcome!

Last Sunday, I went to St. Mary’s in Plymouth for a Mass and procession that was part of the parish’s Holy Ghost Feast.

This is a tradition that comes from the Azores and, particularly, from the island of San Miguel.  (So much so that when they got their autonomy from Portugal, the people wanted to make the Holy Ghost Hymn their national anthem!) They have a Holy Ghost Society at St. Mary’s, and the community has preserved this tradition for many decades.

As I told the people, when I was in the sacristy before the Mass, someone asked me, “Cardinal, have you ever been at one of these Holy Ghost celebrations before?” I replied, “Let me remind you, I was Bishop of Fall River for ten years.  I’ve lost count!”

The feast has its origins with St. Elizabeth of Portugal, a queen who was very devoted to the Holy Spirit and service to the poor, and she is remembered for helping the people of the Azores after a famine struck the islands.

So, at the Mass, they have a crowning of girls as “queens” followed by a procession with bands and a woman dressed at St. Elizabeth carrying a crown.  There are also people giving out bread, symbolizing the way the queen distributed bread to the poor.

It is always a joyful occasion, and we are so grateful to Father Jack Graham and Father John Culloty for doing such a great job preparing the festival.

Then in the afternoon, I visited the parish festival at St. Benedict’s in Somerville.  They had an excellent turnout of hundreds of people there.

The pastor, Father Alejandro López-Cardinale showed me around and introduced me to the people.  They were having a wonderful time and enjoying all kinds of Hispanic food, especially Salvadoran food, like pupusas!

Tuesday, I was visited at the cathedral by Sister Marie Puleo, a local sister who is part of the leadership team of the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, the order that sponsors Mt. Alvernia High School in Newton.  For her part, Sister Marie has been very involved with Catholic health care, including serving as Vice President for Mission of Steward Health Care and serving as interim president at Carney Hospital.

She had just returned from Papua New Guinea, where their sisters work with the Capuchin friars.  She joined me for dinner, and I got to hear about her experiences there.


Wednesday, I was visited at the cathedral by Dr. Peter Kilpatrick, the new president of The Catholic University of America.  Dr. Kilpatrick taught for many years at North Carolina State and then went on to serve as dean of the engineering school at Notre Dame for ten years.  Most recently, he was provost and vice president for academic affairs at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

He has just begun his tenure as president of CUA after the retirement of John Garvey, and we are very happy to have him with us.  Since I am a board member, he wanted to come and have a conversation about plans for the university and some of my hopes going forward.

Thursday, I offered opening remarks and a blessing at the dedication of Eileen’s House, an excellent new facility in Dorchester housed in the former convent of St. Gregory’s Parish.  They have refurbished the building to serve as a residence that will accommodate about 30 women in addiction recovery.   Following their time at the house, the women will be prepared to re-enter their family lives and society.

The facility will provide, at no cost, the services of a team of licensed addiction professionals and staff, individual and family support services, family reunification and coaching, case management and recovery support, and placement in job training programs.

A large number of community leaders joined us for the dedication, including Father Jack Ahern, City Councilor Ed Flynn, Mayor Michelle Wu, Governor Charlie Baker and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.  Of course, we were also joined by Jack and Eileen Connors.  In fact, the name of the facility was chosen to honor them for all their support.

This beautiful new facility is sponsored by the Gavin Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to substance abuse education, prevention and treatment.  It’s a great blessing to have this new house in Lower Mills that I’m sure will help a lot of women find their way back from addiction.

Then in the afternoon, I went to St. John’s Seminary to celebrate Mass for those participating in a conference the seminary was offering for the dioceses of New England entitled “Vulnerable Persons in Canon Law and Pastoral Ministry.”

The day brought together about 55 priests and canon lawyers from throughout the region, including several vicars general and tribunal officials.  They heard addresses by Bishop Mark O’Connell; Retired Rear Admiral Dan O’Toole, the chair of our Advisory Review Board for the protection of children; and Patricia Neal and Melanie Takinen of the VIRTUS child protection program.

We are very grateful to Father Salocks and St. John’s for hosting this gathering on such an important topic.

Finally, we want to extend congratulations to our good friend Metropolitan Methodios, who is celebrating the 40th anniversary of his episcopacy this week.

We wish him all the best, good health and many more years of ministry!

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

July 2022