Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

The 25th anniversary of the Haitian community at Our Lady of Grace

Hello and welcome!

August 11 was the feast of St. Clare.  So, the following Saturday, I visited the Poor Clares in Andover to celebrate Mass with them.

At the end of the Mass, they had the blessing of the bread.  This tradition comes from a moment in the life of St. Clare when the pope asked her to bless the bread they were about to eat.  As she did so, crosses appeared on it.

So, they have the custom where the abbess blesses the bread.  But I think they cheated – I think the crosses were already on the bread before she blessed it!

Then, I had a nice lunch with the sisters.  A couple of sisters put on a skit with music and wore hats over their veils.

They were very entertaining!

As many know, I celebrated my first Mass in a Poor Clare convent in Ohio and have always been blessed to have a very close relationship with the various convents of Poor Clares in the places where I’ve been stationed.  Here in the Archdiocese of Boston, we are blessed to have two convents.  So, I was happy to be able to visit with the community in Andover and celebrate the feast day of their foundress with them.

Later that day, I met with Father Michael Della Penna, the pastor of St. Leonard’s Parish in the North End, his pastoral associate, Michael Bonnetti, and parishioners representing the societies of St. Anthony and St. Lucy.

The two societies recently acquired relics of their patron saints and came to the cathedral to have them blessed.

The relics are contained in beautiful Italian reliquaries, which are very much in the European style.  In Europe, the reliquaries are often statues representing the saint whose relic they bear.

They gave me a photograph of one of their festivals in which you can see the statues of St. Anthony and St. Lucy being carried through the streets of the North End.  (Of course, this year’s festivals for St. Anthony and St. Lucy will take place next week.)

The St. Anthony Society is like a guild for men, and the St. Lucy Society is for women.  They organize the feast day celebrations and have other social activities and works of mercy that they carry out.  Both of these societies are over 100 years old, which is a great indication of how enduring popular religiosity is and how important it can be to help people live their faith and be part of a community.

On Sunday, I went to Our Lady of Grace Parish in Chelsea for a Mass to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Haitian community in the parish.

Father John Sheridan is the pastor there, and Father Adler Vallon, SMM ministers to the Haitian community.

It was a very joyful celebration with a wonderful choir and dancers.

There were a number of local officials there to help us mark the anniversary, as well.  Because the parish sits on the border between Chelsea and Everett, we were joined by officials from both communities who read proclamations commemorating the occasion.


Monday, I joined the bishops of Region 1 for our annual retreat at the Franciscan Guesthouse in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Our region includes the Archdiocese of Boston and its suffragan sees, and the Archdiocese of Hartford and its suffragan sees.  In all, about a dozen bishops were able to join us.

Father Simeon Gallagher, OFM Cap. was our retreat master this year.  He has given many missions and retreats in the New England area, and, of course, he was in the seminary with me.  So, I was delighted he was able to come and lead our retreat for us.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán