Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Bidding farewell to Bishop Reilly and Father Mahoney

Hello and welcome!

As I concluded my post last week, I was still in Rome, and while I was there, I had the opportunity to go up to the cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The view is just fantastic.

I also took some photos of the novena for the Feast of St. Peter I talked about last week.


As I have said previously, of late, they are trying to use the basilica for prayer experiences and devotional practices in the evenings.  During the day, it is so packed with people who are just coming in to see the basilica, but at night, they’re doing things that allow people to come and pray, such as eucharistic adoration, holy hours and this novena.

It was organized like the Stations of St. Peter, where they take scenes from the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, and they have artwork expressing those different scenes.  They also had a choir, prayers and a candlelight procession. It was very moving.

A group of friars from my province is in Italy on a pilgrimage to visit important Franciscan sites.  So, on Sunday, I accompanied them for a brief meeting with the Holy Father.

We sang him a song which is very important for my province, “The Ultima,” in Latin and German. Then, the Holy Father greeted each of the friars.  A couple of them have been working in Papua New Guinea, where the Holy Father will be traveling in September, so he was very interested in hearing about that.

He concluded our visit by giving us all his blessing.

Saturday, I celebrated the ordination for priests and deacons of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo, which is part of the Communion and Liberation movement.

It was held at St. Paul Outside the Walls, and Cardinal Jim Harvey, the archpriest of the basilica, came to greet me before the Mass.

There were six priests and three deacons being ordained.  One was Portuguese all the rest were Italian.

They had a huge choir that came from Milan, and there were about 2,000 people in the basilica. It was quite impressive.

There were also two bishops concelebrating with me.  One was Don Massimo Camisasca, the founder of the Fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo.  He was one of the early companions of Father Giussani and Cardinal Scola.

Of course, afterward, they had a big reception and dinner with all the guests, and apparently, it’s their custom to throw the new priests up in the air during this celebration.

Our Risk Management Department in the Archdiocese of Boston would certainly never allow us to do this with our newly ordained priests!

Monday, I returned to Boston to attend two very important funerals.

The first was for Bishop Emeritus of Worcester Daniel Reilly on Wednesday.   Bishop McManus was our principal celebrant and homilist, and I presided.

Bishop Reilly was a priest of Providence and had been Bishop of Norwich before coming to Worcester.  Bishop McManus is also from Providence, and so had known Bishop Reilly his whole life.  He gave a wonderful homily.

Many, many priests attended the funeral.  We were also joined by many bishops of our province, including the recently ordained Bishop of Portland, Maine, Bishop James Ruggieri, and Bishop-elect John McDermott, who will be ordained Bishop of Burlington, Vermont, in just a couple of weeks.

Bishop Reilly had a very long and fruitful ministry that touched the lives of many.  He had been a very important member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and was the head of Catholic Relief Services for several years.  He was a joy-filled man with a larger-than-life personality, and he will be greatly missed.

Then, on Thursday, we gathered at St. Francis de Sales Church in Charlestown to bid farewell to Father Dan Mahoney.  As I mentioned last week, Father Dan was a priest for nearly 70 years and, for many decades, was a very dedicated chaplain of the Boston Fire Department.   He was chief chaplain for the last 30 years.

He, of course, had a firefighter’s funeral with all the honors and ceremony.

Funeral Mass of father Daniel J. Mahoney

Father John Unni gave a very inspiring homily in which he talked about Father Dan’s great love for and devotion to the firefighters of Boston.  He particularly pointed out the dozens of times Father Dan had to inform families of a loved one’s death and how he accompanied people in difficult times.

Being a chaplain for first responders is a very challenging ministry, and Father Dan did it so well for so many years.  In fact, St. Francis de Sales Church is often referred to as the Firefighter’s Church because of Father Dan’s impactful ministry.

Finally, I was very pleased this week to hear that our archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot, won several awards this year from the Catholic Media Association, including the award for the best Catholic newspaper website in the country.  They also won awards for their Catholic Schools Week special issue, media kit and feature writing.

We congratulate the staff of The Pilot on these well-deserved honors!

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán