Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

The St. Anne Novena in Sturbridge

Hello and welcome!

Last Friday, I visited MCI Concord to visit the inmates and celebrate confirmations.  Deacon Tom Anthony, who has ministered in the prison system for many years, is doing a fantastic job as chaplain there.  The inmates I spoke to were all very enthused about the ministry that is taking place at MCI Concord, and I was also very gratified to see they are making use of the materials that the Order of Malta is supplying for prison ministry.

We visited a new unit there, called the BRAVE Unit, which stands for Building Responsible Adults through Validation and Education.  It’s a program in which they take young fathers between the ages of 18 and 24 and put them in a special unit where they teach them parenting skills and help get them connected with their children.  Older inmates help to mentor them through this process, as well.  I have been involved with prison ministry for many years, and it is the first time I’ve seen a program such as this.  It is a very encouraging and creative program that began in Germany and has been very effective in helping break the cycle of recidivism.

After the visit to the BRAVE Unit, we had a Mass at which we had the confirmation of three inmates.  They have a wonderful choir and music program made up of inmates and volunteers who were with us.

It was a wonderful visit, and we are very grateful for the warm reception we received from the staff and prison officials.  In fact, one of the staff members who introduced himself had a very Portuguese-sounding name, and I mentioned that it was a very common name in Fall River.  And he said, “Yes, I am from Fall River, and you confirmed me when I was young!”  So, it was nice to make that connection that day I was celebrating confirmations.

Saturday, we held our annual Mass for survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their families at the Pastoral Center.  This has been our practice for several years, but during the pandemic, we were unable to hold this Mass, so it was wonderful to be able to gather the people together again.  About 40 or so survivors and family members joined us for the Mass and the reception afterward, where we had a chance to greet people and catch up.

Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

We are very grateful to Kristen Gotter and Vivian Soper for all their hard work organizing this important event.

On Monday, I went to Regina Cleri to visit two of our priests who are in hospice.

Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

While I was there, I also stopped in to visit Cardinal Chibly Langlois, who is staying at Regina Cleri while he receives treatment in Boston following a very serious automobile accident in Haiti.  I was pleased to see he is doing well.

Tuesday, I went to St. Anne Church in Sturbridge for a Mass and procession to conclude their 135th annual novena to St. Anne.  The Assumptionists run the parish, and the pastor is Father Alex Castro, a Filipino priest who works with the Filipino ministry in the archdiocese. I was very happy to accept his invitation to be a part of the celebration.

They had a very large crowd, with hundreds of people.

It’s very impressive to see these long-standing novenas.  A couple of years ago, Bishop McManus invited me to participate in another novena in his diocese celebrating its 100th anniversary, the Novena of Grace.  In the past, novenas were a big part of the spiritual life of the parishes and were very helpful in helping people to embrace a spirit of prayer.  So, I’m pleased to see that there are still places where novenas are an important part of the spiritual life of the faithful.

I told the people that the Holy Father was going to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine in Quebec to meet with the indigenous people there.  And I asked everyone to pray for his penitential pilgrimage to Canada and for healing and reconciliation.

Thursday, I met with Jennifer Wortham, an expert in the field of child protection who often collaborates with our Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.  She is currently working very hard to promote a proposed resolution in the United Nations that would establish A World Day for Protection of the Dignity of the Child.

It was a lovely visit, and it is always good to see her.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán