Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Month: April 2023

With the Holy Father in Rome

Hello and welcome!

Thursday, the Pontifical North American College held their annual Rector’s Dinner at the seminary.

As always, it was a wonderful event, and it was good to see so many people turn out to support the important mission of the seminary.

It was good to see Father Joe Ferme there

This year, the honorees were Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly and Bishop Emeritus of Rockville Centre Bill Murphy, who is a Boston priest.

Friday, the members of The Papal Foundation were invited to an audience with the Holy Father.  The Papal Foundation is a U.S. organization that raises money for the Holy Father’s charities, particularly in the developing world.

The meeting was held in the Apostolic Palace, in a room I had never been in before.  It was very beautiful, with many old tapestries lining the walls.

As I mentioned last week, this is the largest-ever annual gathering of the Foundation, and many stewards and their family members were there.

There were also a number of guests with us.  Among those joining us from Boston were Terry and Susan Ragon, John Corcoran, Father Will Tarraza, Msgr. Kevin O’Leary and Bobby Travers.

After the Holy Father addressed us, he greeted each person individually.

When it was Bobby Travers’ turn, he asked the Holy Father to autograph a baseball and a Celtics jersey.

As he was doing it, the Holy Father turned to me and said, “I sign everything but the checks!”

Saturday morning, I had Mass at the tomb of Pope St. John Paul II with a group from FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University students, who were in Rome.  It was Pope John Paul II who encouraged Curtis Martin to found this ministry to young people on campuses.


With Curtis and Michaelann Martin, Father Michael Drea, who is a National Chaplain with FOCUS, and Bishop of Reno Daniel Mueggenborg, who is on their board

That evening, we had a Mass and dinner for The Papal Foundation.

The Mass was held in the Pauline Chapel, which we used during the conclave.  It is very near the Sistine Chapel and also features frescoes by Michelangelo.

Over the main altar in the Pauline Chapel is an inscription with St. Paul’s words to the Philippians, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Following the Mass, we went to visit the Sistine Chapel and then had a dinner in one of the halls of the Vatican Museums.

With Patricia Flatley and her daughters

During the time I was in Rome, the boys from St. Paul’s Choir School were also there and performed in several places, including at a papal audience.

I was very happy to join them for the Sunday Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, which I concelebrated with Cardinal Grech.

They did a fabulous job and had a huge crowd for the Mass.  There are so many people in Rome these days.  I’ve never seen the city so crowded!

Then, Monday through Wednesday of this week, we had our first meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals with our new members.  And now, Bishop Marco Merlino is acting as the coordinator in addition to his role as secretary.

It was a very good meeting at which we discussed a number of topics, including the implementation of Praedicate Evangelium and the Church’s role in helping to bring peace to those parts of the world where there is conflict.

One day, while I was outside the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, I was happy to run into Father Paterno, a priest in the Paraguayan nunciature, who was in Rome for a meeting.

There is also a very interesting obelisk in the plaza outside the church.  Of course, you see these obelisks which were brought from Egypt in many of the squares of Rome.  This one is particularly interesting because it is mounted on the back of an elephant carved by Bernini.

Also, during my time in Rome, I visited Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, the Capuchin church with the crypt of bones.

I joined Cardinal Jim Harvey for a Memorial Mass for Cardinal Pell, which was celebrated at San Isidoro, the Irish Franciscan college.  Originally built by the Spanish Franciscans, it was given to the Irish Franciscans during the persecutions in the 1600s.

The church has many beautiful murals depicting scenes from the life of St. Francis.

I find this mural showing St. Dominic and St. Francis greeting each other particularly interesting.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán



April 2023