Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: October 14, 2022

Catholic Charities new Lynn food pantry

Hello and welcome!

This week I participated in two events as part of Faith and Blue Weekend 2022.  Faith and Blue is a national initiative that seeks to build ties between law enforcement, faith leaders and the community.

Various community-building events were held in different areas of the city throughout the weekend, and Friday, there was a gathering at Via Victoria, which is just down the street from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

On Monday, a citywide event was also held at the Lawn on D in South Boston.  Several local ministers were in attendance, and I came accompanied by several of our priests, including Father Jack Ahern and Father Doc Conway.

I was very proud that some of our youngsters from St. John Paul II Academy were invited to recite an opening prayer for the people of Boston at the event.  They did a wonderful job, and it was very moving.

Thursday afternoon, I attended the dedication of a new Catholic Charities food pantry in downtown Lynn.  This project has been several months in the making and is a result of collaboration with Lynn’s Food Security Task Force, Greater Lynn Senior Services and a number of other community organizations.

There was a huge crowd present for the ribbon-cutting.  In addition to Kevin MacKenzie and Beth Chambers from Catholic Charities, we were also joined by Lynn Mayor Jared Nicholson, representatives from the police department and other organizations.

The food pantry is very impressive.  It’s set up like a store — when people go in, they have a basket and can choose the things they need for their family.

They have a lot of fresh produce, meats and dairy products besides the traditional packaged and canned goods you would expect at a food pantry.

This new pantry comes to fill a very important need.  At the event, we noted that one in five residents of Lynn is experiencing food insecurity.  In its first year, the new pantry is expected to provide 217,000 meals for about 10,400 people.

On Friday, I had several people visit me at the cathedral.

The first was Deacon Stephen Morgan, the rector of the University of St. Joseph in Macau, which is affiliated with the Universidade Católica Portuguesa, the pontifical university of Portugal.

I was actually unaware there was a Catholic university in Macau, and I believe it is the only Catholic university in China.  But he said that Catholic education still plays an important role in Macau and that about 40 percent of children there attend Catholic schools.

Later that day, I was visited by Deacon Sermed Ashkouri of the Chaldean Catholic diocese.

I also was visited by Archbishop Andrew Nkea of the Archdiocese of Bamenda, who was elected earlier this year as the president of the Cameroonian bishops’ conference.  He has priests studying in Boston and was in town to see them.

It was interesting to hear about the situation in his country.  He spoke about the many challenges they face and the tensions between the majority French-speaking population and the much smaller English-speaking population.  It was very significant that he was elected president of the bishops’ conference because he is an English speaker.

Saturday, I went to the Madonna Queen Shrine in East Boston for our annual Hispanic Youth Encuentro,  which brings together the Spanish youth from the different parishes.  It started at about 4:00 in the afternoon and ended at 10:00 at night with Mass.


This is the first time we have been able to hold this yearly event in person since the pandemic, and it was very encouraging to see several hundred youths there with us.

The view of Boston from the shrine at night is absolutely spectacular!

Sunday, I had a dinner with parishioners from Immaculate Conception Parish in Revere.

We had a lovely meal together.  It was very good to be able to meet them.

October 12 was the Feast of Our Lady of Aparecida, the patroness of Brazil.  So, the Brazilian Embassy in Washington and the Catholic University of America invited me to celebrate a Mass in Washington as a kickoff of the campaign to enthrone Our Lady of Aparecida at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Afterward, we viewed the site where the image will be installed.

It’s very close to the front door of the basilica, directly across from the shrine to Our Lady of Fatima.  So, as one CUA professor said, it will be a great spot for speakers of Portuguese, because you have Our Lady of Fatima on one side and Our Lady of Aparecida on the other!

While I was on the CUA campus, I came across this replica of the famous sculpture “Angels Unawares,” which is installed in St. Peter’s Square.

I knew it was somewhere on the campus, but I had never seen it before because I’m very seldom in that area.  At CUA, it’s actually in a small pond, so it really does look the part of a boat moving across the water.

Finally, while I was still in Washington on Thursday night, I celebrated Vespers at St. Matthew Cathedral with the Federal Association of the Order of Malta.

The Boston Area Order of Malta is affiliated with the American Association, which is based out of New York.  But, when I joined the Order of Malta, I was in the Virgin Islands, so I joined the Federal Association, which is headquartered in Washington.  So, while I was here for the Mass at the National Shrine, I was very happy to be able to join them for the evening.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

October 2022