Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: May 11, 2024

Ordaining six new transitional deacons for Boston

Hello and welcome!

Saturday, we had the joy of ordaining six of our seminarians as transitional deacons for the Archdiocese of Boston.  These are the men who, God willing, will be ordained to the priesthood next year.

In my homily, I remarked on the great diversity of this year’s diaconate class.  There were four languages among the six ordinands: Italian, Portuguese, English and Vietnamese.  This is a great blessing for us.

I also reminded them that, even though they are called transitional deacons, they are actually permanent deacons, but they will also be priests.


There was great enthusiasm among the people and beautiful music reflecting the different communities represented in the ordination class.

May 6 is Easter Sunday in the Julian calendar, which is followed by the Eastern Churches.  So, on Saturday evening, I went to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral to participate in their celebration of the Easter Vigil.

Metropolitan Methodios is always so gracious in inviting me each year.  They usually ask me to read a Gospel, greet the people and share an Easter message with them.

Both the Metropolitan and I are anticipating that next year, which is the 1,700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea, perhaps the Holy Father and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople will come up with a formula for a common celebration of Easter.  I always say that the advantage of having both the Julian and Gregorian calendars has been to allow us to have two Easters each year.  However, I think the symbolism of having a common date of Easter would be very powerful.

Of course, they gave me a beautiful Easter basket and an extra candle.

As I was leaving, I saw a number of people carrying lit candles to their cars.  It is not uncommon for people to take the flames home after the flame and candles are blessed.  The custom is that when you get home, you light an oil lamp in front of the icon with that flame and keep it burning all year.  I think that’s a very beautiful custom.

At the cathedral, we have an Ethiopian–Eritrean community that are Eastern Catholics of the Ge’ez Rite who also follow the Julian calendar.  So, every year, as I return from the Orthodox celebration, I like to stop in to greet them and wish them a happy Easter.

They have a very long and beautiful Vigil that begins with a procession behind the Easter candle.

Sunday, I went to St. Anthony Parish in Cambridge to celebrate a Mass for their Santo Cristo Feast.

St. Anthony’s was originally an Azorean parish, though it now has a large Brazilian presence.  But they still celebrate as their major feast Santo Cristo, which is an image of Christ after being scourged and crowned with thorns.

In my homily, I reflected on how St. Teresa of Avila attributed her conversion to the moment that she saw the same Ecce Homo image in her convent.  I noted how that was an occasion of great grace.  And I told the people that we should try to look upon this image with that same faith and ask the Lord to convert our hearts so that we can be more faithful disciples of the Lord and realize how much he loves us and how he has suffered for us.

It’s always wonderful to see such beautiful and strong popular religiosity among the people.  So, I was happy to be part of the celebration.

That afternoon, I met with the newly elected leadership team of the Ugandan Catholic Community at St. Mary Parish in Waltham, who came accompanied by their pastor, Father Michael Nolan.

It was good to be with them, hear about their different activities and be able to give them a blessing.

On Monday, I attended the wake service of Father William Pearsall at Regina Cleri.  Unfortunately, I was unable to be at his funeral Mass because I had the episcopal ordination in Maine the following day.

Father William Pearsall had been a priest for 70 years, and he spent over 40 years in Peru as a member of the St. James Society.  He was part of one of the very first groups of Boston priests sent by Cardinal Cushing to South America.  Father George Emerson, I believe, was in that same group, and he was with us at the service, and Father Frank Daly gave a beautiful reflection.

As I mentioned, on Tuesday, I went to Maine to celebrate the episcopal ordination of Bishop James Ruggieri of Portland.

Msgr. John McDermott, who has been named Bishop of Burlington, Vermont, was with us, and before the Mass he joked, “Can I get in line and just do it now?” When we all laughed, he said, “When it’s 120 degrees in July, you’ll wish you had done it now in May!”

Bishop Ruggieri was a pastor in Providence.  So, in my homily, I noted that the new bishop came not only from Providence but also from God’s divine providence, a sign of his loving care for the people of Maine.  And we assured the new bishop of everyone’s support.

I also thanked Bishop Robert Deeley for his many years of service in the Archdiocese of Boston and for the decade he spent as Bishop of Portland.  I said how obvious it was that he loved being the Bishop of Portland.  He loved his priests and his people and was very dedicated to that ministry.

On Wednesday, I was visited by Consuelo Isaacson and Micho Spring of Friends of Caritas Cubana.   They had been in Cuba recently, and the situation there is getting very dire.  They wanted to share with me some of their experiences and ways that we might be able to help.

The work that they do is so important, supporting the different food and medicine programs that Caritas Cubana is sponsoring all over Cuba at a time when there is great scarcity.

Also, on Wednesday, we were very happy to announce the appointment of our new superintendent of schools, Eileen McLaughlin.

Eileen has long experience teaching and in the administration of Catholic schools in the archdiocese.  She brings a lot of gifts to her new position and is a woman of deep faith and commitment to Catholic education.  (And, of course, many people know her mother, MaryAnn McLaughlin, who worked for so many years in spiritual formation, Cursillo, and many other different activities of the archdiocese.)

Catholic education is one of the primary ministries of the archdiocese.  Not only is it a way to transmit the faith, but it is a powerful way we prepare people for life: to be good people, to be virtuous people and to have the kind of education that will allow them to realize their gifts and make a positive contribution to society.

I know that Eileen will bring many of her gifts to this new responsibility that she is taking on.   But I also want to say that I was very impressed with the quality of all the candidates who made it to the final round.  Unlike some of our past superintendent searches, we concentrated on identifying local candidates and found we had the talent right here in the archdiocese.  That was very, very encouraging, and we thank all the candidates who came forward for this very important position.

Finally, on Thursday, we had a virtual rosary with members of The Papal Foundation, at which Father Eric Cadin spoke briefly about vocation promotion in Boston and throughout the country.

It was very good to be able to be with them, pray with them, and hear a talk on this very important theme.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

May 2024