Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

The 30th annual Bishop James Augustine Healy Award Dinner

Hello and welcome!

Last Thursday morning, I attended the wake of Margaret Rora, the mother of Father Michael Rora.  I was pleased to be able to be there and offer some prayers and tender my condolences to Father Michael, his dad and the rest of the family.

That evening, we had the annual board meeting of our Redemptoris Mater Seminary. We received reports on the planning for constructing the new chapel and on the various seminarians and their progress.  We also welcomed some new board members.

After our meeting, we enjoyed a very excellent meal where they gave the gift of a very nice cardigan.

And, as always, the seminarians provided lively entertainment!

On Saturday, I presided at the final profession of two Daughters of Mary of Nazareth — Sister Bernadette Solanus and Sister Catherine André.

In addition to the sisters’ families and the many friends and benefactors of the Daughters, many priests and religious from many different communities were present for the celebration; even the Trappistines were among them.

It was a very beautiful and joyful celebration.  In today’s world, where there are so few religious women making professions, it was particularly significant to have two young women in our diocese making this lifetime commitment to live the evangelical councils in the spirit of St. Charles de Foucauld.

That evening, I was very happy to attend the 30th annual Bishop James Augustine Healy Award Dinner at Boston College High School.

There was a very large crowd, and of course, the Archdiocesan Black Catholic Choir sang beautifully, as always.

I was also very happy to see they had a steel band there.  It took me back to my time in the Virgin Islands, where some parishes even had steel bands playing during the liturgy!

The keynote speaker of the evening was Danielle Brown, an outstanding Catholic laywoman and lawyer who works at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

This year, Sister Tess Browne received the Healy Award.  She is a native of Trinidad but has worked in social justice ministries in the States for decades and is a real pillar in the Black Catholic community of Boston.

The recipient of this year’s Ruffin Award was Father Bryan Hehir, who has made so many contributions to the life of the Church, particularly in championing the social gospel.

It was a wonderful evening, and the awards were well deserved.

From there, I departed for Baltimore for the annual Fall General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.   As always, on the weekend before our gathering, there are meetings of the various committees and subcommittees of the bishops’ conference.  But, because I was in Boston for the Healy Award Dinner, I was only able to make it to the board meeting of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The Opening Mass was held on Monday at the Cathedral of Baltimore, and Archbishop Lori greeted everyone at the beginning of Mass as the local ordinary.

The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Broglio, the president of our conference, and, of course, the Apostolic Nuncio, the newly created Cardinal Christophe Pierre, was also in attendance.

Prayer is always a very important part of our gathering.  There’s always a Eucharistic Chapel so that the bishops can have a place to pray privately and for Eucharistic adoration.

The USCCB does an excellent job of providing details of plenary sessions, so I won’t attempt to summarize them all here but rather point out some highlights for me.

There was a very good report on the Synod on Synodality given by Bishop Rhoades of South Bend.  Also, Bishop Robert Barron and Archbishop Borys Gudziak gave a report on an initiative to promote the importance of mental health and acknowledge it as a great crisis in the country.

I was very pleased by that because there is a lack of attention to the problem of mental illness, depression and addiction, and it is certainly closely tied to the growing phenomenon of homelessness in the United States.

We had a vote on the cause of canonization of Servant of God Isaac Hecker, the founder of the Paulist Fathers.  Cardinal Dolan gave a wonderful exposition about his life and place in American history that was very well done.

There was also a vote on supporting the naming of St. John Henry Cardinal Newman as a Doctor of the Church.  I thought those were two significant and important gestures on the part of the bishops’ conference, and, of course, both proposals received unanimous approval.

I was very happy to see Metropolitan Methodios, who was there with a group of Orthodox bishops who were invited as guests to attend a session of the conference.  I was very grateful that he was able to join us.

He is such a wonderful friend of the Catholic community, and his presence there, along with the presence of the other Orthodox bishops, was very important.  Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was part of the ecumenical service that began the recent synod in Rome, and Metropolitan Job was also one of the representatives of the Orthodox Church at the synod.  Because of the special relationship we have with the Orthodox Churches, it’s wonderful to have these opportunities to have interaction between their bishops and our bishops’ conference.

I was also very happy to see Bishop Rutilio Riego, who worked with me in Hispanic ministry in Washington many years ago.  He is originally from Spain and belongs to the Operarios Diocesanos.  When he worked in Washington, he was a priest but went on to become a bishop in San Bernadino and now is retired.

When I was a young priest, the lion’s share of Hispanic ministry in the United States was carried out by priests from Spain.  He was part of that generation, as was our own Bishop Emilio Allué. Though many of that generation of priests are retired or have passed on, they were key to establishing Hispanic ministry in this country.  So, I’m pleased to point out this outstanding bishop who gave so many decades of service to Hispanic Catholics in the United States and have his picture in the blog.  We have many mutual friends who will be happy to see his face.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán