Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: January 20, 2023

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Prayer Breakfast

Hello and welcome!

Last Friday, I was visited by Sister Janet Gaudet, the provincial of the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception who run Mount Alvernia Academy.

Sister Janet had been on her order’s international leadership team in Rome for many years and, prior to that, had been a missionary in Papua New Guinea.  So, she was very acquainted with the work of our friars there.  I was able to let her know that the former Capuchin provincial there, Father Jonathan Williams, whom she knew very well, had just passed away and will be buried next week.

Her sisters are still working in Papua New Guinea, which is, of course, a very challenging mission.  She said she had many wonderful memories of her time there and of her association with the Capuchins from my province.

On Saturday morning, I celebrated Morning Prayer at the cathedral with a large contingent of youth visiting from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Ridgewood, N.J. They were making a vocational pilgrimage to Boston and were hosted by St. Joseph’s Parish in Lynn.

After Morning Prayer, I gave them a talk about Christian vocations and sent them on their way to visit Boston and do some street missions while they walked along the Freedom Trail.

That afternoon, I had a meeting with our Survivors Advisory Committee, a small group of survivors of clergy sexual abuse who work with our Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach to advise the archdiocese and provide support for other victims.

They meet with me periodically and have also been very generous in meeting with seminarians, deacons, and lay leadership in the archdiocese for educational efforts around abuse.  We are so grateful to the council members and the vital contributions they make.

We are very happy to have Father Nicanor now working with the Hispanic community in the Cathedral Parish, and his presence is very much appreciated.  But I was very happy to be able to celebrate the Spanish Mass this past Sunday, as I often do when I’m at the cathedral.

Monday was, of course, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.  So, as I do every year, I went to St. Katharine Drexel Parish for our annual Dr. Martin Luther King Day Prayer Breakfast.  I am happy to say that, despite the snow that day, we had very good attendance.

As always, the Archdiocesan Black Catholic Choir provided excellent music, and there were readings from Dr. King’s writings.

Our guest speaker this year was Dr. Jaime Waters, a Biblical Studies professor from Boston College.  She gave a very inspiring talk in which she particularly held up the Scriptural basis for Dr. King’s work on behalf of social justice.

I also offered some closing remarks and a blessing.

It was a very meaningful celebration of the holiday.  I think it is important that the true reason for any holiday is celebrated, and certainly, the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King is so important in our country, which is still struggling with the legacy of slavery and racism that divides people.  So, we are very grateful to Father Oscar Pratt and the parishioners of St. Katharine Drexel for always hosting this breakfast and making Martin Luther King Day a special day of reflection for all of us.

On Tuesday, I departed for Washington to participate in events around the annual March for Life. Because those events were still ongoing by the time I had to prepare this blog, I have decided to wait and share my reflections on all of them together next week.

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley participates in the 2023 March for Life in Washington, D.C. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

However, I did want to note that, this year we are marking the 50th anniversary of the March for Life, and, as fate would have it, I have been able to attend every March for Life since the very first.  I think it has been an important witness of our faith community to participate in the march for all these years and hold up the sacredness of all human life.

Of course, this is the first march since the overturning of Roe vs. Wade.   From the beginning, it’s been obvious that changing laws is only part of our task.  The challenge is to change people’s hearts and help them appreciate the importance of creating a society where everyone is welcomed and taken care of and where women experiencing difficult pregnancies receive the kind of help and support that allows them to give birth to their children.  Also, in the coming year, we are poised for more national debates on the issues of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.  These issues are all part of what the Church is trying to teach on the sacredness of human life.

So, the march continues to be an important ecclesial event for us, and I’m happy that many young people were able to gather from all over the country, including our own archdiocese.  It is very good for them to experience a sense of community and solidarity with brothers and sisters in the faith, people who are proud to be Catholic and proud to be pro-life, and see this as part of our mission as disciples of Jesus Christ in the 21st century.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán


January 2023