Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Celebrating the Feast of St. Andrew

Hello and welcome!

I hope you all had a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday!

As I do every year, I went to be with my family in Florida, where we have our traditional Thanksgiving Mass at St. Richard’s Church.

This year, we had a smaller group of about three dozen O’Malleys but our numbers were bolstered when we were joined by the Dever family from Westport, County Mayo. Msgr. William Dever had been a priest with me in the Virgin Islands, and he is now pastor in Fort Lauderdale.  When he heard I was going to be there, he contacted my family and joined us with all of his relatives.  It was lovely to be with them!

After the Mass, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at my Aunt Pat’s house.

A photo of my aunt and her nine children

Last Saturday, I went to St. Anthony’s in Woburn to celebrate the funeral Mass of Mrs. Josephine Clancy, the mother of Father Richard Clancy.

It was a very beautiful Mass and Father Clancy gave a wonderful homily, in which he reflected on his mother’s life of faith.  It was certainly very moving.

That afternoon, I met with Father Antonio Porcellato, the Superior General of the SMA Fathers from Rome, who was making his first trip to the United States.

The SMA fathers have long been present in the archdiocese, and many of their priests help out in our parishes during the summer.  So, I was very happy to be able to receive Father Antonio. It was very interesting to learn that they have over 300 men in formation for a community that has about 800 members.

On Sunday, I went to St. Mary’s in Scituate for a Mass to celebrate the parish’s 100th anniversary.  It was the first Sunday of Advent, which is a very nice time to celebrate an anniversary since it indicates a new beginning.

I was joined at the Mass by co-pastors Father Matt Conley and Father Anthony Cusack as well as former pastor Father Ken Cannon.  We were also joined by a number of seminarians who are helping out there and the parish’s permanent deacon, Deacon Mattie Henry.

It was a lovely celebration, and I was very happy to be with them to mark this very important occasion.

On Tuesday, I had another of our ongoing formation meetings with priests ordained within the last five years.  We come together about every six weeks for a meal, a holy hour, and a time of conversation.

We had a very lively conversation about rectory life, the spiritual life of the priest, and preparations for Advent and Christmas.  It was a wonderful gathering, and I think the priests enjoyed the opportunity to be with each other and with their bishop.

Tuesday night, being the vigil of the Feast of St. Andrew, it was very appropriate that we should hold one of our St. Andrew Dinners for young men discerning a vocation to the priesthood.   We gathered at St. John’s Seminary and were joined by many high school students from Malden Catholic and St. Sebastian’s.

Of course, these St. Andrew Dinners are called such because it harkens to the scene in the Gospel where St. Andrew finds Peter and takes him to Christ, who then calls him to be an apostle.  We know that vocations often come through the mediation of other people who challenge us to reflect on what the Lord is calling us to do with our life.

The St. Andrew Dinners are an opportunity for these young men to come together to visit the seminary, pray, share a meal, dialogue with the archbishop and listen to the testimony of seminarians who share their own vocation stories.

Wednesday morning, I went to Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Boston to join Metropolitan Methodios and the priests of the metropolis for the celebration of the Feast of St. Andrew, their patronal feast.

They use the beautiful liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, which is also used in some of our Eastern Rite Catholic Churches.  I particularly love the beautiful prayers in preparation for communion and the thanksgiving prayers after Communion.

At the end of the liturgy, they have the veneration of the icon of St. Andrew (whom they call the First-Called) and the blessing of the five loaves.  The loaves are the symbol of St. Andrew since he is the one who pointed out the boy with the five barley loaves and two fish at the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.

This custom of the archdiocese and the metropolis exchanging delegations on our respective feast days goes back many, many years.

St. Peter and St. Andrew were brothers, and, of course, St. Peter founded the Church in Rome, and St. Andrew founded the Church in Constantinople.  Of course, for the first 1,000 years of Christianity, we were one Church and we hope that through prayer and dialogue we will once again return to that unity that Christ wants for his followers.  These gatherings on the feasts of St. Peter and St. Andrew that we have here in Boston, and also at the Vatican and Ecumenical Patriarchate, are very important ways of promoting unity between our two Churches.

Wednesday, I met via Zoom with the provincial of the Jesuits’ newly amalgamated USA East Province, Father Joseph O’Keefe.  I was happy to chat with him about the work of the Jesuit community here in the archdiocese, which, in addition to Boston College, includes their ministry at St. Ignatius Parish, Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, the Campion Center in Weston and the Faber Community.

Wednesday evening, I was happy to be joined by my nephew Nick, his wife Amelia, and their son Charlie for a dinner to celebrate Nick’s birthday.  (Nick, my sister and my cousin were all born on the Feast of St. Andrew and none of them are named Andrew or Andrea!)

After the dinner, I went over to meet with the Malta Walks team from the cathedral who go out each Wednesday to visit the homeless in the area.

Yesterday morning, we celebrated the funeral Mass for our former Chancellor Jim McDonough at St. John’s in Wellesley.  Many people came for hours to the wake the night before and also to the funeral, including many of Jim’s friends from the world of banking and philanthropy, his schoolmates and relatives.

Among those concelebrating the Mass were Bishop Peter Uglietto, Bishop Mark O’Connell and Father Bryan Hehir, who gave a very beautiful homily on the Christian meaning of death and the salient themes in Jim’s life of faith and family.

At the end of Mass, Jim’s son Brian offered a remembrance, and also I said a few words to express our condolences and reflect a little bit on Jim’s life.

Jim became our Chancellor at a very difficult time, when a less courageous person would have run in the other direction.  The archdiocese was in economic freefall and in the midst of crisis and scandal.  He came in to help us see our way through that very challenging time.  He also brought many talented people to the archdiocesan team, many of whom probably would not have come to us if Jim had not been here — people like Joe D’Arrigo and Judy Haglof.

Jim was a man who was very devoted to his family.  His wife Lynne, his daughter Kristin and her husband Peter, his son Brian and his wife Kaitlyn, and his three grandchildren were the joy of his life.  He was also a man of great faith.  That faith was reflected in his long commitment to Catholic Charities and his very active role at The Cardinal Cushing Centers, which Cardinal Cushing founded for people with intellectual disabilities.  That center was very special to Cardinal Cushing, as it was to Jim McDonough.

It was also reflected in his desire to help rebuild the Church during that very difficult period of our history.  We will always remain grateful for that.

Then, in the afternoon, I went to South Boston Catholic Academy for the blessing of their new early childhood education center and well as the dedication of a playground named in honor of young Colin McGrath, who was tragically killed in 2018.

With the McGrath family at the dedication

Owen Sullivan, a student at SBCA and a relative of Msgr. Kevin O’Leary assisted me with the blessing

The academy has grown so much that, in order to accommodate the increased enrollment, they have moved their early childhood program to what was the old convent, which is now been refurbished. They now have about 140 students there, in addition to more than 300 at the original school building.

The Lynch Foundation has been a very strong supporter of the SBCA as well as the Catholic Schools Foundation, and I was happy to be joined by Peter Lynch for the occasion.

After the dedication, I visited the main school building, where I met the children, and they sang some beautiful songs and Christmas carols for us.

Finally, earlier today, I announced that Bishop Peter Uglietto is finishing his term as Vicar General after almost 9 years.  We are very grateful for his generous and faithful service, but he needs to step away from these responsibilities at this point.

Bishop Peter

He will be replaced in this role by Bishop Mark O’Connell on January 1.


Bishop Mark

Bishop Mark already has experience working in the Pastoral Center and has generously accepted this post.   It is not an easy task, and so I’m very grateful to Bishop Peter for the many years of service that he gave as Vicar General and likewise to Bishop Mark for his willingness to take on this challenge.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán