Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: September 16, 2022

Giving thanks for our priests

Hello and welcome!

I would like to begin this week sharing with you a statement I issued earlier today on the situation of the immigrants and refugees who unexpectedly arrived on Martha’s Vineyard:

Immigration policies and practices stand as an abiding moral, legal and political challenge to our Commonwealth and our country. We have delayed far too long in developing an effective response to immigrants, migrants, and refugees at a moment when the movement of men, women, children, and families surpasses any other known example in our history. 

Our common humanity is the lens through which our response to immigrants and refugees must be judged.  Pope Francis has made the plight of immigrants and refugees a constant theme of his pontificate. The Holy Father’s witness, in word and deed, has been based on understanding immigrants and refugees as pilgrims forced by socio-economic conditions, human rights abuses, and the climate crisis to leave their homes in search of safety, security and stability for themselves and their families. 

This week the humanity and vulnerability which immigrants and refugees share has come home to us in Massachusetts.  The Venezuelan refugees have come from a situation of enormous oppression and suffering in their own country. 

As is often the case, human tragedy evokes moral goodness. The citizens of Martha’s Vineyard have shown us all how common humanity motivates generosity and effective kindness. I commend young and old for their example and effective response. 

The need for a systematic longer-term response is required. I thank Governor Baker for his promise of providing shelter and security for those who have come to us in Massachusetts without either. An effective strategy inevitably requires the leadership and assistance of state and city government. Within that basic framework other organizations can then make their skilled response. Catholic Charities of Boston has informed me of their readiness to cooperate with civil authorities in welcoming those who come to our Commonwealth in need of assistance. Not only Venezuelans, but Haitians and other Latin Americans are caught up in the crushing emergency of the U.S. southern border. When non-profit agencies can partner with civil authorities, people at risk will find welcome, support and space to organize their lives. 

In a globalized world, immigration challenges will continue. In our country a broken immigration system requires immediate reform. From the Dreamers who still seek legal stability in their lives, to those fleeing war in Ukraine, poverty in Latin America and Africa, or crises in the Middle East, the call of our common humanity will be with us for years to come. I pray we will be equal to the challenge. 


On Sunday, I went to the Fatima Shrine in Holliston to celebrate a Mass to mark the 75th anniversary of the Xaverian Missionaries in the United States.  Of course, the Fatima Shrine is a very important presence of the community here in our archdiocese.

We were very happy to be joined by Provincial Superior Father Mark Marangone, local superior Father Rocco Puopolo, and many, many guests.  They do a lot of interfaith work, so they invited representatives of different faith communities to be part of the celebration, as well.

Of course, they have a nice place in the grove for outdoor Masses, and we had perfect weather for it.

The rain held off until after the Mass, and for the celebration, it was cool, pleasant and not too sunny — just the way you want it to be when you have an outdoor Mass.

Then, I went to Jamaica Plain for a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Father John Tokaz.  He is now stationed in Maine, but he was previously the superior in Jamaica Plain, and we were very happy that he came back to celebrate his anniversary with us.

He had a renewal of vows and asked me to receive them.

On Monday, I was visited by Bishop Peter Chifukwa from the Diocese of Dedza, Malawi.  Bishop Peter has been visiting the United States for the last couple of weeks, and he came to see me at the cathedral, along with Father Bill Joy, who was hosting him.


It was interesting to hear about his diocese.  Malawi is a country where there are many challenges, and he told me that among those is a very high illiteracy rate.  He said he is trying to establish a high school for girls, which will be the only one in his diocese.

He also commented that Queen Elizabeth was the head of state of Malawi.  He said that the people had very great affection for her and revered her and that many are mourning her passing.  Of course, we’ve heard so much about the passing of the queen in the news, and it was interesting to get that perspective from someone from one of the Commonwealth countries.

Later that day, I went to Chelmsford to attend the wake of Kathleen Macdonald, the mother of Father Tom Macdonald, who passed away after a long illness.   I was glad to be able to visit with his family personally, express our condolences and pray with them.

That afternoon, I departed for Washington for meetings at the USCCB.

I wanted to share with you a couple of photos of the conference’s headquarters.

The chapel

The meeting room

I’m always particularly struck by this painting of the American saints, which is a reproduction of the painting that was presented to Pope Francis during his visit to Washington in 2015.

Here in the archdiocese, we have dedicated the month of September to giving thanks for our priests.  As part of that, we hosted a gathering at Regina Cleri for our priests and supporters on Thursday.

Several of our auxiliary bishops were with us.

Cardinal Chibly Langlois from Haiti is still at Regina Cleri recovering from his car accident earlier this year.  So, it was very good to have him with us, as well.

It was a lovely evening and they did a wonderful job converting the outdoor area of Regina Cleri into a very nice venue.

They even had a cake in the form of the Regina Cleri building!

Bishop Mark O’Connell delivered the opening prayer, and then we heard remarks by our Dinner Chairs, Ellen and Brian Walsh and Mary and Stephen Wessling.

Our emcee for the evening was Father Bryan Parrish, who pointed out that he is not Bishop Reed, but I still think he did a fantastic job!

One of the ideas behind holding this dinner at Regina Cleri was to help people become familiar with the facility and the wonderful work that goes on there.  During the evening, we heard a reflection by one of the residents, Father John Mulloy, who spoke about the very positive impact the Clergy Trust has had on the lives of our priests.

As they do every year, they had a very inspiring video that focused on the wonderful work of our priests.

Then, I joined Mark Vachon in announcing that Father Gerry Petringa was being presented with the St. Joseph Award.

Afterward, I offered some remarks and a blessing.

As always, we concluded the evening singing the Salve Regina.

We are so grateful to our dinner co-chairs, Regina Cleri director Stephen Gust, Mike Scannell and Maryellen Barrett from our Clergy Trust, and all those who worked to make the dinner a wonderful success.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

September 2022