Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: December 23, 2022

Merry Christmas to everyone and to all!

Hello and welcome!

Last Thursday, I was very happy to attend a Mass and dinner for the members of the Cardinal’s Leadership Circle of our Catholic Appeal.  It was an opportunity to thank them for all their support for the works of the Church.

This is the first time we’ve been able to gather since the pandemic, so it was wonderful to be able to see so many of our benefactors who were able to join us for this Advent celebration.

Friday, I celebrated the funeral Mass of Father Jacques McGuffie.  A number of his priest classmates, family, and other friends gathered at St. Joseph’s Church in the West End.

Father McGuffie was a widower who had been a deacon and went on to become a priest.  So, his daughters and grandchildren were with us at the funeral.

Father Jack Ahern gave a very touching homily in which he incorporated a lot of his experience serving with Father Jacques.

Saturday, I went to Immaculate Conception in Stoughton for the celebration of their 150th anniversary.  With us were, of course, pastor Father Carlos Suarez and parochial vicar Father Eduardo Marques.  Many of the former pastors were there, as well.  The Mass was bilingual, in English and Portuguese, because in addition to the long-time Portuguese community, there is now a sizable Brazilian community in the parish.

As I shared with the people, Immaculate Conception was one of the first parishes that I became acquainted with in Boston.  This is because, when I was bishop in the Virgin Islands, I came there to conduct a parish mission in Portuguese before the Feast of the Nativity of Mary.  On the last day of the mission, there was a large procession through the streets of Stoughton with Governor Dukakis in attendance.

At the Mass, I was very happy to see Luisa Castello, the sister of Deacon João Castello, who was my deacon in Washington when I was a young priest in the 1970s.  He had 16 brothers and sisters, and I believe three of them were deacons in Washington.

I helped him enter the diaconate program, and he was ordained in Washington.  He eventually went back to Portugal, where he still lives today.  He was assigned to work at the Jerónimos, which is one of the most important historical monuments in Lisbon.

At that time, the reintroduction of the permanent diaconate was still very new and was implemented in the U.S. sooner than in many other places.  So, in fact, he has the distinction of being the first and only deacon in Portugal for many, many years.

Monday, we had a meeting of our Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.  Though we have been conducting our meetings regularly via Zoom, this was the first time we were able to meet again in person since the pandemic.  It was an opportunity to discuss the Synod on Sodality and receive different recommendations and ideas from the members on how this process can work in our own archdiocese.

There were many very provocative and valuable suggestions that were raised by members of the group, and everyone was delighted to be able to gather again.  It was a very good meeting, and we are so grateful to Sister Marian Batho for all the hard work that she does coordinating the work of the APC.

Tuesday, we had our annual Advent Mass and Gathering here at the Pastoral Center.  It was good to see so many of our staff members were able to join us.  The chapel was filled.

The gathering was also an opportunity for us to bid farewell to Bishop Peter Uglietto as he steps down from his responsibilities as Vicar General.  He concelebrated with me and, at the conclusion of the Mass, he addressed the people, thanking them for all their collaboration and support during his nine years as Vicar General.

Afterward, we had our traditional Advent reception, which, of course, featured the famous raffle.

Wednesday morning, I attended the wake for Father George Carrigg at St. Christopher Church in Dorchester, where he had served for nearly 50 years.

I had known Father Carrigg for many years, since the time I was in Fall River, and he would come to give counseling to people in the diocese.  He was a psychotherapist and put his talents to work, helping many different groups and religious orders as a counselor and spiritual director over the years.

Of course, in his many decades at St. Christopher’s, he was very devoted to helping the poor and disenfranchised and was very much beloved by his parishioners.   He was a very dedicated and faithful priest who will be sorely missed by many.

After the wake, I went to celebrate an Advent Mass with the women at MCI Framingham.  The singing was beautiful.  They performed several four-voice hymns, and Victoria Dehesa did a wonderful job accompanying them on the guitar.  It was really very lovely.

Sister Maureen Clark is the chaplain there and has been doing just an extraordinary job there for decades.  We were also very happy to be joined by many of the volunteers who help Sister with her ministry, including Laura Romeo from the BC Office of Mission and Ministry, who coordinates the music program for liturgies, and Mary Jo Kriz, who leads prayer groups for the women.

In addition to the Mass, I was able to meet with some of the women who are in the Intensive Treatment Unit.

While I was there, they told me that the prison population was down by a large percentage, and it brought home to me, once again, how the policies of Governor Baker have reduced the prison population in our state considerably.  I think that is just extraordinary.

Then, yesterday afternoon, Msgr. Kevin O’Leary invited all the cathedral staff and volunteers to gather with us to share a little Christmas cheer in the Rosa Room of the cathedral.

I was very happy to be able to thank them for all the wonderful service that they give to the Cathedral community.

Finally, I want to leave you all with my annual Christmas message:

My dear friends, I wish all of you and your loved ones a very blessed and Merry Christmas!

We want to remember in a very special way all of those who are suffering, beginning with the people of Ukraine and all those who will celebrate Christmas in cold, hunger, and darkness.  We remember, too, those who have lost loved ones and face the prospect of celebrating Christmas this year without a beloved member of the family.  We pray for those battling with addiction, depression, and hopelessness.  And we pray that we might all find strength in a God who loves us, who comes to be near to us, to share in our humanity, our sufferings, and our joys.  We pray for the grace to discover our God hidden in plain sight, and faith and love will light the way.

Merry Christmas to everyone and to all!

Cardinal Seán

December 2022