Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Marching for Life

Hello and welcome!

As some of you may have read, this week, we are announcing a change to age for the Sacrament of Confirmation for the archdiocese.  For the last four years, there has been a great deal of discussion about the best pastoral approach to the confirmation age.  A committee began considering this issue four years ago, but the process was prolonged because of Covid.  Now, having received recommendations from so many and discussing the matter with the Presbyteral Council, we are announcing that confirmation will be offered in 8th grade.

We are hopeful that this will allow more young people to receive the sacrament.  Part of the plan is also to develop a catechetical program for high school students, which would include service projects and other kinds of formation for them.

Friday, I met with Brother Joe Donovan of the Brotherhood of Hope.  He has been involved in campus ministry here in the archdiocese.  We are very grateful for the Brotherhood of Hope and their presence in the archdiocese, particularly for their service to young people and in campus ministry throughout the archdiocese.

He was also joined by Father Simeon Gallagher, who is known in many of our parishes for the retreats and parish missions he preaches.

Saturday, I met with Father Dominic Jung along with his provincial, Father Luigino Santi.

Father Dominic has been here for many years, ministering in our Korean parish, St. Antoine Daveluy, but he is now returning to Korea.  We are very grateful for the many years of fine service that he has given to the archdiocese.

St. Antoine Daveluy is currently considered a quasi-parish, but at the last Presbyteral Council meeting, it was recommended that the church be made into a personal parish, and the new pastor is going to be one of our own archdiocesan priests, Father Chris Bae.

On Saturday, I joined a men’s retreat for the Cathedral Parish organized by Father Nicanor.  There were about 60 men there, and I was happy to give them a talk.

Then, on Sunday, I celebrated the Spanish Mass at the Cathedral.

Monday was, of course, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and I was pleased to be able to go to St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Roxbury to attend their annual Prayer Breakfast.  It was very well attended, as it always is, despite the cold weather that day.  We were also joined by Bishop-elect Cristiano Barbosa.   He was introduced, and people were very pleased with his presence.

As I mentioned to the people in my remarks, as so many American holidays become just another day off from work, I am so pleased that this holiday, which has so much significance for the history of our country, is marked by important observances like the one that has taken place at St. Katharine Drexel for the last 38 years.

During the breakfast, we heard a very heartfelt and inspiring keynote talk by Rev. Laura Reyes, pastor of the United Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain.

They also read Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which was one of the things that inspired me when I was a seminarian.  It’s a very powerful letter that, in many ways, was addressed to religious leaders.

It was a very meaningful observance, and it’s always very uplifting.  I expressed my gratitude to the parishioners and Father Oscar Pratt, as well as to Meyer Chambers and the Archdiocese of Boston Black Catholic Choir and, of course, also to our speaker, Rev. Reyes.

The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. is more necessary today than ever with so much polarization in our country, prejudice, racism, and anti-Semitism.  So, his message of nonviolence and a Christian response to these great challenges is a wonderful theme for us to reflect upon.

On Tuesday, I had one of my regular gatherings with a class of seminarians.  This time, I met with our transitional deacons, who, God willing, will be ordained in May.

As always, we began with Vespers, and at the dinner afterward, we had a very lively conversation about their months as deacons, particularly the ministries they had over the holidays.  I was very struck by the fact that one of the deacons has already had over one hundred baptisms!

On Wednesday, I departed for Washington to take part in events around the annual March for Life, and on Thursday, I visited the Poor Clares in Alexandria, Virginia.

I am pictured here with Father Emilio Biosca and Father Emilio’s sister, Sister Maria Jose, along with the Mother Abbess.

We also visited a friend of the World Bank, Felice Gorordo.  I asked for a withdrawal, but they didn’t give me anything!

On Thursday evening, we had the Opening Mass of the Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

It was, as usual, very well attended; the basilica was packed with people.

It’s always beautiful that they have sisters involved in various life ministries very close to the sanctuary: the Sisters of Life, Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, and the Little Sisters of the Poor.  And, of course, Mother Olga and the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth are always near the front row of the basilica.


We were also joined by many of our diocesan priests who were there to concelebrate and be a part of the Mass.  There were also many representatives of the various Orthodox churches.  We are always so happy to see them present.

At the start of the Mass, Cardinal Christophe Pierre read a greeting sent to us by Pope Francis.

Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, who is the chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, was the main celebrant and homilist.

As has been the custom in recent years, at the end of the Mass, there was a Eucharistic procession and rosary.

This year, the Sisters of Life invited our Boston group to join them for their Life Fest event, which was held Friday morning at the D.C. Armory.

The gathering was cosponsored by the Sisters of Life and the Knights of Columbus, and the Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, Archbishop Lori of Baltimore, was the celebrant.  They asked me to serve as the homilist.

It was a wonderful event with about 6,000 young people, including about 600 youth from Boston, along with our seminarians from St. John’s Seminary, Redemptoris Mater Seminary, and Pope St. John XXIII Seminary and many of our priests who were there to accompany their people.

Then, in the afternoon, was the March for Life itself.  This year, it was very challenging because of the weather, but as I told the people, it gave us an opportunity to be able to provide an even greater witness to our commitment on behalf of the Gospel of Life.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán