Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Ordaining 9 new permanent deacons

Hello and welcome!

Last Saturday, we had the joy of ordaining nine new permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Boston at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Pilot photo by Gregory L. Tracy

There were many representatives from the diaconate community, priests, pastors and parishioners there to support the candidates.  The cathedral was filled.

Among this year’s class were a Vietnamese and a Brazilian deacon.  They will, of course, be very helpful in our ministry to our ethnic communities.

We are very grateful to Deacon Chris Connelly and all those involved in the diaconate program for their hard work forming these men and making this special day possible.

That afternoon, I went to St. John’s Seminary to celebrate our annual White Mass sponsored by the archdiocese’s Guild of St. Luke for Catholic physicians, which we hold each year around Oct. 18, the Feast of St. Luke.

Of course, there were many of our guild members with us.  We were also very happy to be joined by a number of medical students from several local universities, including a group from Harvard University who came accompanied by Father George Salzmann.

With the guild officers and Megan Gilbert

With Tommy and Nancy Hynes

Following the Mass, the guild holds a dinner, and this year the guest speaker was Megan Gilbert, the regional communications officer for Catholic Relief Services in Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.  She spoke to us about the agency’s work in different areas throughout the world, particularly Ukraine.  It was a very compelling talk.

Sunday, I went to St. George Parish in Framingham for a celebration of the parish’s 175th anniversary.  St. George broke off from St. Mary’s Parish in Waltham in 1847, and although the church building is not the original, it is certainly one of the oldest parishes in the archdiocese.

I’m always very impressed by the beautiful windows at St. George.

I met a sister of Notre Dame at the Mass who has worked in the parish for decades.  She shared this photo of the parish’s centennial celebrations in 1947 with me.  I thought it was wonderful.

Then, that afternoon, I returned to the cathedral to celebrate a Mass to thank the donors and volunteers who have been supportive of our Catholic Appeal over this last year.  This was an initiative of our Chief Philanthropy Officer, Gavan Mooney, to bring together friends and benefactors to express our gratitude and encourage them in their support of the Catholic Appeal.

It was very encouraging to see such a large crowd.  Many of the people were seeing the renovated cathedral for the first time, and there was a lot of enthusiasm around that.

After the Mass, I was very happy to greet many of our Appeal supporters as they left the Cathedral.

That evening, I attended the wake of Alice Driscoll, who passed away last week.  Alice and her husband Roland lived in Braintree and would often come to the noon Mass at the Pastoral Center.

They had seven children and have a large and beautiful family.  They were both also very dedicated to the Church and were very supportive of many different activities, including our Vocations Office.  So, I was very pleased to be able to attend the wake and say some prayers with her family.  She had a very long and beautiful life, and she will be sorely missed.

For many years, it has been my practice to periodically meet with the members of the different seminary classes for Vespers, dinner and a time of conversation at the cathedral.  Although we had to pause that during the pandemic, we have now begun to hold these evenings once again.  So, on Monday night, I gathered with the class who are in their fourth year of theology studies.

These men have already been ordained transitional deacons, so it was very interesting to hear about the various ministries they are involved in at their parish assignments and their experiences celebrating the sacraments.

The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Gomez, has asked the bishops of the various regions to hold meetings in advance of our November plenary assembly to discuss topics that will be raised there.  So, on Tuesday, we held a meeting via Zoom with the bishops of Region 1, which includes the Province of Boston (made up of the dioceses of Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire) and the Province of Hartford (the dioceses of Connecticut and Rhode Island).  So, all the bishops from New England were on the call with us, including some retired bishops.

We are trying to have more regional meetings.   I think this is a very good methodology to follow because it gives us a chance to discuss some of the topics that will be raised to the whole assembly and hear how our bishops of New England see these issues.

Wednesday, I was very happy to attend the installation of the new Melkite Greek Catholic Eparch of Newton, Francois Beyrouti, at Our Lady of the Annunciation Cathedral in West Roxbury.  He is replacing Bishop Samra, who had been here for many years.

Bishop Beyrouti was born in Lebanon, but his family moved to Canada when he was very young.  He was ordained to the priesthood in Canada and ministered there for many years.  Then, about 10 years ago, he came to the U.S. and worked in California.

Because he was not a bishop when he was named eparch, he was ordained a few weeks ago in Canada before coming here to be installed.  In fact, in the past, this was also the practice in the Latin Rite — when you become a bishop, you would be ordained where you are from but then be installed in the diocese that you were being sent to.  However, it is now more common in the Latin Rite to have the ordination and the installation together.

Although the eparchy is named for Newton and is headquartered here, the territory of the diocese covers the entire country.   So, this was a very important event for the entire Melkite Catholic Church in the United States.  With us at the Mass was Melkite Patriarch Youssef Absi from Lebanon; the Secretary of the Dicastery for Oriental Churches Giorgio Gallaro; and a number of local bishops, including Maronite Bishop Gregory Mansur; Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios; Bishop Mark O’Connell; Bishop Robert Deeley of Portland, Maine; Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester; and, of course, our own Archimandrite, Father Jack Ahern.

The Melkite Church uses the very beautiful and elaborate Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.  Though it did incorporate some Greek and Arabic, I was very surprised that much of the liturgy was conducted in English.  Another interesting aspect that I wasn’t aware of is that a Melkite bishop’s vestments include bells.  I understand that that is because, in some parts of the Middle East, shepherds carry bells, and the sheep follow them when they hear the sound.  I thought that was very beautiful symbolism.

That evening, I attended the Medicine that Matters Gala to benefit the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, which is headquartered just a few blocks from the Cathedral and is headed by Dr. Jim O’Connell.  They do fabulous work taking care of the homeless there.

The fundraiser was held at a venue that is also very close to the cathedral, called The Power Station.  It was a very large event with about 500 people, and they raised nearly $2 million to support BHCHP’s important work.

During the evening, they honored Jack Connors and the RIZE Massachusetts Foundation, which works to address the opioid crisis.

On Thursday, we held our first in-person meeting of the Presbyteral Council since the beginning of the pandemic.  It was good to see everyone and be able to gather together once again.

Finally, I want to share with you some photos of an event I attended earlier this month to benefit Capuchin Mobile Ministries.

This is a wonderful ministry established by the friars in Jamaica Plain who go out three days a week to minister to the homeless in Boston and Cambridge.  Together with many volunteers from local schools, colleges and parishes, they bring the homeless food and emergency supplies but, more importantly, they use the occasion to provide accompaniment and pastoral care. They do such wonderful work, and I was very happy to be able to support their ministry.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán