Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Celebrating Mission Church’s Sesquicentennial

Hello and welcome!

I was very pleased that Mother Olga and the Men of Divine Mercy prayer group were able to hold their annual event once again this year.

Friday night, we celebrated the Mass 4 Life at Sacred Heart Church in Quincy.

In my homily, I spoke about the importance of changing not only laws but people’s hearts and doing what we can to help women who are facing difficult pregnancies.  You can view the whole homily here:

The following day, there was supposed to be an outdoor event at Veterans Memorial Stadium.  However, because of the rain, they moved it indoors to the Marriott Boston-Quincy.

This event is a great service and a reminder of the importance of pro-life ministry in the Church.

Saturday morning, I celebrated a memorial Mass at the cathedral for Father Russell Best.

Father Russell died during the pandemic, and as we know, at that time it was not possible to have large celebrations.  So, his sisters arranged this Memorial Mass.  Father Al Faretra delivered the homily, and many of father’s former parishioners, colleagues and relatives gathered with us here at the cathedral.

Father Russell grew up in the Cathedral Parish and was a longtime parishioner.  He and his sisters graduated from Cathedral Grammar School and then Cathedral High School, and Father Russell was later president of his class.

One of his sisters shared this photo with me of Father Russell being installed as pastor many years ago.

It was a very beautiful celebration.  We know that the families of many people who died during the pandemic were unable to have the kind of memorial service they would have liked, so we were very happy that the Best family was able to organize this.

That evening, I went to the Madonna Queen of the Universe Shrine in East Boston for the Hispanic Marian Congress.

The congress was a daylong event with activities and speakers, and I came to celebrate their closing Mass.  There was a very nice crowd of people from many of our Hispanic communities throughout the archdiocese.

Like many such events, it hasn’t taken place for a couple of years because of the pandemic.  But, as I say, it seems that we are coming out of the Babylonian Captivity, and these events are beginning to be held again.  So, it was wonderful to be able to gather with them.

Sunday morning, I was very happy to celebrate the Mass at Mission Church to mark their 150th anniversary.

It was a trilingual Mass – English, French and Spanish — and we were joined by large numbers from the Haitian and Hispanic communities there.

At the end of the Mass, they presented a short performance that they had prepared based on the passion play “Pilate’s Daughter,” which was a staple for years at Mission Church.

The Redemptorists have done an extraordinary job there, and it was wonderful to celebrate the great history of Mission Church, which initially served Irish and German immigrants and today has given welcome to newcomers from many different countries.

Of course, they have had two schools there over the years – Mission Grammar School and Mission High School.  The grammar school continues and is working in partnership with the Lynch Foundation to provide an extraordinary Catholic education for immigrants and low-income children.

Mission Church is, of course, a minor basilica and is such a beautiful church.  We are so blessed to have it here in Boston, and we are so grateful for all the ministry the Redemptorist fathers and brothers have provided there for the last century and a half.

Then, in the afternoon, we had our Cheverus Awards Ceremony at the cathedral, with afternoon prayer and the presentation of the Cheverus Medals.

This is always a special moment in the life of the archdiocese when we gather at the cathedral with representatives from our various parishes to express our gratitude to these longtime volunteers.  They are often the unsung heroes and do so many thankless chores that keep our parishes running.  This award is a way of saying thank you to them and lifting up their generosity, sacrifice and dedication.

This year, we had two posthumous awardees – Beirne Lovely, Esq., who was the archdiocesan counsel and was involved in so many aspects of the life of the Church, and Deacon Jesus Ortiz of Our Lady of Lourdes in Jamaica Plain, who passed away only about two weeks ago.  Both of them were represented by family members.

The award is named for our first bishop, Bishop Jean-Louis Lefebvre de Cheverus, whose episcopal motto was “Let us love one another.”  As I pointed out in my homily, our volunteers truly exemplify this motto in their lives.

The Cheverus Awards celebration is always a wonderful event that is very intergenerational.  Of course, many of our honorees are senior citizens who have devoted decades of their lives to serving in their local communities, and they are often accompanied by their children and grandchildren and serve as a wonderful example to these young Catholics.

That evening, I went to our Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Brookline for a dinner with benefactors from St. Mary’s Parish in Lawrence, who came accompanied by their pastor, Father Israel Rodriguez.

They always serve a lovely meal, and then the seminarians regale us with their musical talents.  It was a beautiful evening.

The Asociación Nacional de Sacerdotes Hispanos held their annual gathering in Boston last week.  So, on Monday, I celebrated Mass with them at the cathedral.

Afterward, there was a banquet at the Newton Sheraton, at which they presented their Buen Pastor award to Father Wendell Verrill, one of our senior priests.  He was accompanied by some of his family and former parishioners from St. Mary’s in Waltham.  Father Wendell served as a member of the St. James Society and then returned to Boston to be involved in Hispanic ministry for many decades.  It was a very well-deserved honor.

Every six weeks or so, I like to gather with our priests who have been ordained within the last five years for a day of ongoing formation.  So, on Tuesday, I joined them for a meal, conversation and holy hour together at the Pastoral Center.

It was the feast of St. Francis.  So, I began our conversation with a talk about the life of St. Francis and the impact that his conversion had, not only in his own life but on the lives of the people around him and on the whole Church.  I said that, in a similar way, our personal conversion as priests also has huge repercussions for our ministry and the contribution we make to the life of the Church.

It being the feast of St. Francis, I went to the Capuchin friary in Jamaica Plain for dinner with the friars.  We were very pleased to be joined by the provincial from New York, Father Michael, as well as a visiting Capuchin from Angola.

We had a festive meal, and afterward, we renewed our vows together.  It really was a very nice evening.

Thursday, I was visited by Sister Janet Eisner and the new president of Emmanuel College, Mary Boyd.  Of course, Sister Janet is now president emeritus, and she came to introduce Mary as she begins her tenure as president.

It was very nice to be able to meet Mary in person, and wish her well as she begins this new and important responsibility of leading Emmanuel College.

Finally, I’d like to share with you this photo that was sent to me this week by Father Kevin Staley-Joyce, who was recently on retreat with students from the campus ministry at Boston University.  Father Anthony Cusack preached it for them at the Greek Orthodox Metropolis’ St. Methodios Center in New Hampshire.

It was very encouraging to see these young Catholics taking this time to enrich their faith.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán