Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán shares his reflections & experiences.

Many joyful milestones

Hello again!

I’m beginning this week’s post with the text of a document I thought may be of interest to many of you. It was sent to me by my friend Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete of Communion and Liberation.

As some of you may know, one of the primary missions of Communion and Liberation is to help Catholics understand the events of the world in light of their faith.

Therefore, when a significant social or political event presents itself – such as our current presidential race – they will often produce a flyer like this one to help Catholics form their consciences in accord the teachings of the Church.

As the November elections approach, I know many are considering their choices. I thought this flyer could be helpful in that process.

Click the image below to read the full text.


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On Thursday, Sept. 11, we were at MCI in Norfolk for a visit with the prison ministries there. We celebrated Mass with them and anointed some of their sick inmates in the hospital facilities. Every year, the Mass is a great occasion. A large contingent of inmates filled the auditorium and there were three wonderful choirs; one English, one Spanish and one Vietnamese.

The sisters have done a tremendous job for many years working with Deacon Bill Kane, our director of Prison Ministry.  I understand there is also there is a very active chapter of the Third Order of the Dominicans at MCI in Norfolk.

After the Mass, there was a dramatic production with impressive choreography that depicted the descent into a criminal lifestyle — how a prisoner is led into the use of drugs — and then his conversion. It was very, very well done and directed by one of the sisters.

Following the production, we were given a presentation on the various ministries and activities that have been organized at the facility. It really is encouraging to see how much has been accomplished there and the very positive effect it has had on the lives of the prisoners.

The Bay State Correction Center, also in Norfolk, is a much smaller prison, where Father Tom Stanton has been doing a wonderful job in his prison ministry. We had Mass there just this Wednesday, which was the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis. Father Tom Stanton arranged for us to pass out prayer cards with the prayer of St. Francis on the back.

After the Mass, Robert Soares, the deputy superintendent, gave us a tour of the prison and talked to us about the different programs there. A few years ago, Robert gave me a tour of MCI Cedar Junction and I was so pleased to see him again.

We also met with an instructor from Boston University, Paule Verdet, who for 18 years has been working in the prisons; in fact I often see Paule at other prisons I have visited. There are many educational options available to the inmates. BU has a program, started by Dr. John Silber almost 20 years ago, that allows a prisoner to continue with their studies at the school if they began to matriculate while incarcerated. That program, in addition to the GED and other programs are so important as inmates prepare for their lives outside of prison.

- – -

Msgr. Bob Deeley came to visit us at the cathedral rectory Friday. He and his brother, Father Kevin Deeley, a Navy chaplain, are both in Italy. Father Kevin is stationed at naval station at Gaeta and Msgr. Bob works at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican. They are both Boston priests on “Lend/Lease,” and the monsignor was home visiting his family and he stopped by to check in.


It was good to see him.  We are all grateful for the important work he is doing in Rome.

- – -

Saturday morning, we went to the Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade to cheer on members of the Caritas Christi team, who taking part in the Boston Heart Association’s “Boston Start! Health Walk.”


There were so many people from Caritas there, including Caritas CEO Dr. Ralph de la Torre. They all had their lime green shirts on and Caritas had a large tent there for the walkers. I was told there were more than 15,000 walkers in total.




Even some dogs had shirts!




Here I am with Dr. de la Torre and Jared Fogel whom many of you will recognize from the Subway sandwich shops ads. Subway is one of the sponsors of the Heart Association progrm

- – -

Later that afternoon, we celebrated the Centennial Mass at St. Michael Parish in Avon. The parish was very welcoming and the Mass had a wonderful music program. Father Palmieri is giving the parish very strong leadership and everyone I spoke to was very happy about the way things are going there.













I was also very happy to see a strong presence of the Knights of Columbus


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Sunday morning, we went to the St. Bridget School in Framingham to celebrate its 50th anniversary. I was pleased to see Roseanne Mungovan, the principal and Msgr. Frank Strahan, the pastor as well as past and present students.

There was just a little drizzle as we blessed the cornerstone outside the school.

50th anniversary mass 003 

50th anniversary mass 001

Inside, they had great pictures of Cardinal Cushing laying the cornerstone.

50th anniversary mass 005

50th anniversary mass 006

The Mass was enhanced by the wonderful music program. The children sang so beautifully. Msgr. Strahan, who is quite the singer and musician himself, composed a special hymn for the school. It was very moving.

- – -

Also Sunday morning, the parish community of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross hosted a special reception after the 11:30 Mass to welcome members of the recently closed Holy Trinity Church Parish.



Holy Trinity was the home of the Tridentine Latin Mass and German-language Masses for many years and I was so happy to spend time with them as they socialized with members of the Spanish and English language communities at the cathedral.

- – -

From there we went to Peabody’s Bishop Fenwick High, where the North Region was holding its Bicentennial Picnic. There were also some informative conferences that we attended along with information booths for different groups and ministries of the region.

We concluded the picnic with a Mass celebrated in the school’s auditorium with Bishop Frank Irwin. I was pleasantly surprised that so many priests and pastors from the region were able to join us for the Mass. Sunday afternoons are busy times for parish priests, so I was thrilled that so many of them were able to make it.

Bishop Irwin and I were very entertained by a cultural presentation made by a Vietnamese group. It was obvious that they had worked very hard to prepare, and all that hard work paid off.

Each of the regions have marked the Bicentennial in their own way. This picnic was a great example of the strength and diversity of the archdiocese. It was especially nice that the event was held at Bishop Fenwick, which is a beautiful school with a great looking campus. Sister Catherine Fleming, the school’s principal, has done a superb job and was very gracious to host the picnic.

- – -

On Monday I had a visit Bishop Ramazzini, from the Diocese of San Marcos in Guatemala.


He was in the area for a conference at Boston College and offered Masses for members of the Guatemalan community in Lynn and East Boston—all part of the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the murder of his predecessor, Bishop Juan Gerardi. Bishop Gerardi was killed shortly after he publicly delivered a report by the country’s bishops on the human rights violations in that nation.

After Bishop Gerardi was killed, I was performing visitations of the seminaries in Guatemala and I stayed at the bishop’s residence. It was on that visit that I first met Bishop Ramazzini, and we have been friends ever since. Bishop Geraldi’s murder was a terrible tragedy and a sad chapter in Guatemala’s history, which is plagued by much violence and persecution of the Church.

Having said all that, we were very happy that the bishop came and it certainly was appreciated by the Guatemalan and greater Hispanic community.

- – -

Tuesday morning at the Cathedral we celebrated the opening Mass for the 1,500 students of the Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy.

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

Our Superintendent of Schools, Mary Grassa O’Neill, was there to greet the children as the entered the cathedral

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

It was a great gathering of so many leaders and supporters of the 2010 Initiative.

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

We are incredibly grateful to those individuals who have done so much to revitalize Catholic education in Dorchester and Mattapan.

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

The Mass was a wonderful way to initiate the new school year and see all of the students at the school, because the academy is made up of five campuses.

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

As I watched the children ooo-ing and ah-ing at the remarkable arches, stained glass windows and the majestic of the cathedral’s interior, I realized that for many of them it was the first time any of them have been to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

I am always very pleased when our people can come and experience the beauty of our cathedral, which is everyone’s church.

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

The students proclaimed the readings and the prayers

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

 Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

The children played some lovely music for us

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

Prior to the final blessing, Mary Grassa O’Neill delivered some remarks

Photo by Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

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Wednesday evening, we attended the Annual Lawn Party fundraiser for Blessed John XXIII National Seminary, our school for men who discern their vocation later in life. It was their biggest crowd ever. Joanie and Doug Kingsley and the other members of the party committee created a wonderful event for supporters of the seminary where they can meet the seminarians and learn about the school’s mission. The rector, Father Peter Uglietto, gave me such a wonderful welcome and I was very happy to meet with and thank the attendees.



Walking with Father Uglietto

In addition to Father Uglietto and I, the attendees heard from Msgr. Cornelius McRae, who was the rector here from 1986 to 1995, and two of the seminarians —  Frank Camp, a former writer, who gave a very moving account of a great priest he found in Paris to give his wife the last rites,  and Rendell Torres, a former music professor, who shared with us the idea that the school is a unique coming together of 65 seminarians and 65 stories.




Frank Camp


Rendell Torres






- – -

Finally, thought this week has been filled with such joyful occasions, we must remember the hardships and sufferings of the inhabitants of Haiti, Cuba, Louisiana and Texas.


To provide a concrete way for people to help, we have authorized special collections in the parishes. Please be as generous as your means allow.

Until next week, blessings to you all!

– Cardinal Seán

5 Responses to Many joyful milestones


  1. Comment by Joumana Cafferty | 2008/09/24 at 23:41:54

    Dear Cardinal O’Malley,
    Considering that the outcome of the Presidential elections will have far reaching consequences on the Christian morality of our nation for years to come, may I suggest that you urge everyone in your diocese, through your email updates and your blog, to pray and fast and pray for 40 days for the outcome of this election, until election day.

    Moreover, it would be great if people can participate in the 40 days of Life that is being promoted on the following website:
    This website is promoting a 40 days of prayer and fasting to reduce abortion.

    Blessings in Christ,
    Joumana Cafferty

  2. Comment by Damian | 2008/09/26 at 03:18:44

    Since this is the time for 40daysforlife (.com) leading right up to the Presidential election. Check out Youtube (.com) user RealCatholicTV who has Archbishop Burke’s blessing.
    And feel free to join the Holy Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate at

  3. Me
    Comment by Me | 2008/09/26 at 20:13:24

    Let’s not forget the hardships and sufferings of those with mental illnesses either, Cardinal Sean.

    May I suggest these empathetic guidelines taken from Healthy Place. com when considering choices, and they do work ;)

    Don’t criticize. People struggling with any sort of mental illness are very vulnerable, and cannot defend themselves against direct personal attack. Try to be supportive, and keep negative or nagging remarks to an absolute minimum. If there is one single standard to work for in your relationship with a mentally ill person, it is to respect, and protect, their shattered self-esteem.

    If you want to influence behavior effectively, the best thing to do is ignore negative behavior as much as you can, and praise positive behavior every chance you get. Study after study shows that if you “accentuate the positive” people will want to perform the behaviors that earn them recognition and approval. Many reliable studies indicate that criticism, conflict and emotional pressure are most highly related to relapse.

    Don’t buy into the stigma all around you. People with mental illness are not “bad,” or ill because of some failure of character. Our family member of God is not willfully trying to disgrace us, frustrate us and embarrass us. They are not dedicated to undermining our dignity, or ruining our prestige and standing in the community. They are simply ill. Stigma is awfully hard for those with a mental illness, but we certainly don’t have to go along with it!

    It is important to encourage independent behavior. Ask your ill family member what they feel they are ready to do. Plan for progress in small steps that have a better chance for success. Make short-term plans and goals and be prepared for changes in directions, and retreats. Progress in mental illness requires flexibility; it means giving up our zeal for progress measured by normal standards.

    The best gift we can offer is to accept that mental illness is a fact in the life of someone we love, and look ahead with hope to the future. It is important to tell our family members that mental illness makes life difficult, but not impossible. This is the only way it is now; things can be better. People come out of these illnesses; people get better. Family members can help keep the future alive; most people with mental illness do struggle on and rebuild their lives.

    Someone impacted by your actions

  4. Comment by James O’Leary | 2008/10/02 at 16:39:58

    Is it true the Cardinal said he could not see how any Catholic could vote for a Democrat?

  5. Comment by Lenox | 2008/11/27 at 05:07:06

    I have loved your site for its useful and funny content and simple design.,

Comments are closed