Celebrating the New Year


Happy New Year to all!

In the Church calendar, we are still in the Christmas season. One week after celebrating the birth of Jesus, we celebrate the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God. This is when the whole Church gathers to congratulate the new mother and celebrate the great mystery of Mary, Theotokos.

For many years in the Church, it has been a day when we offer prayers for peace. This year, we especially pray for peace in our world, for the end of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and for the safe return of our troops.

We also pray for peace in the Holy Land, where we see armed conflict has flared up again on the hallowed land of Jesus’ birth and where he spent his life on earth.

– – –

Christmas Eve, I went to Pine Street Inn, where we visited with the residents, staff and volunteers. The director, Lyndia Downie, has done and extraordinary job there. Msgr. Frank Kelley, one of the shelter’s founders, accompanied me. Msgr. Frank is still very involved at the shelter and a member of their board of directors. He is also one of those special priests who has a deep passion for social justice and service to the poor. This is just another manifestation of his priestly service and commitment.


One of the volunteers I met was David Gergen, who was President Clinton’s Chief of Staff and also worked on the White House staff of the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations. David teaches at the Kennedy School of Government and told me he was there with his wife and grandchildren to teach them the lesson of service to the poor at Christmas.






This year, as the economy worsens, we see more people are losing their jobs and homes. Those people are turning to social service agencies, like Pine Street Inn and Catholic Charities, who are doing their best to provide a safety net.


The Pine Street Inn does a great job of providing a safe haven for people who have lost their home during Christmas time.

Before the Nativity, the Holy Family was told there was no room at the inn. Well, there is room at the Pine Street Inn. The people at Pine Street have opened their hearts to those in need and they deserve everyone’s support.

– – –

We had a wonderful turnout for the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.



The church was beautifully decorated and the choir did an amazing job both before the service with a chorale prelude and during the Mass. It was a very worthy celebration of Christ’s birth.









Radio personality Ron Della Chiesa has been a lector at the midnight Mass for the last 24 years

With the concelebrants and altar servers

Christmas morning, we went to Channel 7 for my customary Christmas television Mass. The Mass was also broadcast on CatholicTV and on Channel 56, so it was seen throughout New England.




The Daughters of St. Paul provided the music and the singing for the Mass. They are always so generous to contribute to this Mass every year.


– – –

After the Mass, we visited the St. Francis House day shelter, which grew out of the ministry at St. Anthony’s Shrine. The shelter is a place for the homeless to go during the day. The staff there also helps the guest find work and job training. The shelter also allows more than 1,000 guests to use the mailroom as their mailing address.


Although it is a day shelter, there are 56 residents upstairs. These individuals were given their own keys to their own rooms after they demonstrated their commitment to a sober lifestyle and have made progress towards living on their own.


The director, Karen DeFrazio, told me that she is so proud of the community of residents and the way they help themselves and each other.

Greeting guests with Karen DeFrazio

Karen also told me that because of the economic stresses we are facing, she is seeing more and more families coming to St. Francis House for help.

St. Francis House has so many wonderful volunteers, who support the staff. My visit was an opportunity to thank the volunteers and staff and meet with the guests for Christmas.



With all of the media attention, I hope I was able to draw attention to the good work they are doing there and encourage people to help them.


– – –

The Monday after Christmas, I traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the ordination of Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout.

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For the past few years, Bishop Knestout has been working in the Washington chancery as moderator of the curia and vicar for administration. Before that, he was Cardinal Hickey’s secretary and was very good taking care of Cardinal Hickey during his illness.

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It was a wonderful appointment for Washington. It is the first time in a long time that they have a Washington priest become an auxiliary bishop. He is a native of the Washington Archdiocese, and his brother is also a priest in the archdiocese. His father was a permanent deacon until his death in 1997. He went to Catholic schools and is a part of a very large family of Italian extraction.

BK Ord-BK-Cards_1073_12-29-08

His appointment has been welcomed with great joy by the people. I was extremely happy to be a part of the celebration. Retired Washington Cardinals Baum and McCarrick were there as well Cardinal Keeler, and many bishops who, like me, have worked in Washington over the years.

The ordination took place at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, a place that has sentimental significance to me.

BK Ord-St Matt-12-29-08

I celebrated my first public Mass there in 1970. I celebrated the Mass in Spanish to a group of mostly Cubans on the Feast of Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre. Until I was ordained a bishop, I celebrated Mass there every Sunday and heard confessions every Saturday.

It was a very happy occasion for Archbishop Wuerl and for the Catholics of Washington.

– – –

New Years Eve, I celebrated Mass at St. Mary’s in Waltham. This Mass has traditionally been dedicated to the Pro-Life Ministry, but this year we were joined by other communities, including the Hispanic Ministry, the Indian community, members of Communion and Liberation and people active in our young adult programs.

We had a Holy Hour that began 10:30 p.m. with adoration and we said the rosary together.



After the Holy Hour, Marianne Luthin, the director of the Pro-Life Office, addressed the congregation. Marianne talked about the upcoming holy hours that will be held in more than 125 parishes across the archdiocese on the night before the Jan. 22 March for Life. At least 62 of them will be presided over and preached at by deacons, who are members of Deacons for Life, a new group of deacons advocating the culture of life in their parishes.

Marianne Luthin

At midnight, I celebrated the Mass with several priests and deacons, including the pastor, Father Mike Nolan, and Deacon Sean Carey. Deacon Sean is a deaf seminarian studying at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California, to be a priest in Boston. He is home for the holidays and it was his first time assisting me at Mass as a deacon. It was such a joy to see him there.


The cantor at the Mass was a member of St. Mary’s Parish, Kateri Thekaekara, whose rendering of “Ave Maria” was very moving. Kateri is 16 years old and she has been singing at St. Mary’s since she was in the first grade. She did not start soloing until she was in second grade. We were blessed to have such a talented singer at our service.

Kateri Thekaekara




Despite the snowstorm and the howling wind there were many people there from all over the archdiocese who were seeking an alternative to the more common way to celebrate New Year’s Eve. It was a good way to end the old year in God’s presence and begin the New Year celebrating the Eucharist.



The year we have just finished has certainly had its challenges. But, it also had its blessings. It was the archdiocese’s Bicentennial Year and the year of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit.

We are still in the Pauline Year, which commemorates the 2000th anniversary of St. Paul’s birth and ends on June 29, the Feast of the Sts. Peter and Paul. In my homily, I encouraged the people to consider the great themes of Paul’s life: his conversion to the Lord, his love for the Word of God and the missionary nature of the Church, which is the idea that we must share the faith we have received courageously and generously.

– – –

When I arrived in Boston, I began the custom of celebrating Jan. 1 at the cathedral with the Haitian community to mark Haitian Independence Day, as I did in Florida. The response has been wonderful. In addition to members of that community joining us from all over the archdiocese, we were joined by many priests and deacons.


The Mass was in both Creole and French and the choir was magnificent.


At the end of the Mass they have the tradition of chanting the “Te Deum” in Latin in thanksgiving for their independence.




They also presented me with a beautiful rendering of Negre Marron, who was the first slave to call for independence from the French. Negre Marron is shown playing the conch shell he used to rally the people from the mountainside.





I should also note that the collection at the Mass will be used to help the victims of the hurricanes and other natural disasters visited upon that nation in the passed year. It has been a very difficult year for the Haitian people.

I am looking forward to the blessings of the New Year and I wish you all success and contentment for you and your families.

In Christ,

Cardinal Seán

20 thoughts on “Celebrating the New Year”

  1. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    Happy New Year! It is very nice to see that people are giving of their time to volunteer to work at Pine Street Inn. It is very kind and generous of them. I’m also very happy to see that you had a big turnout for the Christmas Eve midnight Mass.

    Thank you for your blog,

  2. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    Happy new year. I enjoyed reading and looking at the pictures of your holiday. I noticed that you visited the Pine Street Inn. I have also done community service for my high school, Boston College High School, at a local homeless shelter. Hope you have a good year!



  4. Cardinal Sean,

    My favorite part of your blog this week was about you and the many volunteers involved with the Pine street Inn project. Helping the poor, especially near Christmas time, is so very important. They have no where to go and for the poor people who had the blessing to go there must be very thankful towards all the help from you! Thank you agian for the wonderful blogs Cardinal!


  5. Your Eminence, you are certainly one of the hardest working men around the Boston Area. God bless you and all that you do for us all.
    I also wish you, the volunteers and residents at Pine Street and St. Francis a very Happy New Year.


  6. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    I agree that the people that set up or that are helping out at the St. Francis House are doing a wonderful deed. Those people that go there must be so greatful that they have people caring for them and people that are helping them with the tough times in thier lives. They are provided with food, shelter, help with finding jobs, and some even a permanent residence. Most homless or people in need don’t have those opportunities and they people that do are very lucky.

    – Megan Daley

  7. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    I agree that the people that set up or that are helping out at the St. Francis House are doing a wonderful deed. Those people that go there must be so greatful that they have people caring for them and people that are helping them with the tough times in thier lives. They are provided with food, shelter, help with finding jobs, and some even a permanent residence. Most homless or people in need don’t have those opportunities and they people that do are very lucky.

    – Megan Daley

  8. I thought it was very generous of you to visit Pine Street Inn because now people that are homeless will have a place that is warm to eat and sleep. I hope that people will follow you and also help the people in need.

  9. Hello, I am an eight-grade student at St. Paul School in Hingham. I think Lyndia Downie has done a magnificent job at the Pine Street Inn. I also think that the St. Francis House day shelter is a wonder place. Both of these establishments serve as homes for people who don’t any other place to go. I think these facilities are doing a wonderful job.

  10. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    My name is Johnny and I attend St. Paul’s School in Hingham, Massachusetts. Happy New Year! I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas. This week’s blog was great but the part that I enjoyed most was how you visited the members of Pine Street Inn. It was very nice of you to spend time with the less fortunate. Thank you so much for telling us about what you do every week. I hope that I will see your blog up next week and see all the generous things that you do. Thanks again!

  11. Cardinal Sean,
    I loved your blog this week. It is so nice of you to dedicate your time in the Christmas season to help others in need, you truly could see that you put a smile on their faces. I hope you had a great Christmas and a happy new year!

    -Caroline Sullivan ( 8th grade student from St.Paul School )

  12. I hope your holiday’s were great!! It was nice to read that you visited Pine Street Inn, and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross pictures looked beautiful!!!!!! Every week I am amazed at all the places you go. I can’t wait until next week!!

  13. Happy New Year Cardinal Sean!!!! I hope your Christmas was wonderful even though you were still busy. It was so kind of you to devote your time and visit the Pine Street Inn. The Cathedral of the Holy Cross is a magnificent church. It must of been especially beautiful with all the decorations and lighting!!!

    Clara K.
    St. Paul Student
    Hingham MA

  14. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    I thought it was very nice that you visited the residents of Pine Street Inn. I thouht it was very cool how you met with a volunteer, David Gergen, who worked as President Clinton’s Chief of Staff and also worked on the White House staff of the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations. The Cathedral of Holy Cross looked amazing. It was beautifully decorated!

  15. I think that the Pine Street Inn is so great because it allows people who have lost their job or lost their home to have a place to eat and sleep. I also think that it was a good lesson for David Gergen to teach his children about giving.

  16. It was great to see the kindness of the people at the Pine Street Inn! It is also sad to see so many people homeless at this time when people are busy buying gifts. The pictures of the Christmas Eve mass are fantastic!
    Thank You,

  17. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    Happy New Year! I hope you had a nice Christmas and Christmas Eve. I enjoyed reading your blog. It was so nice of you to volunteer your time at the Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House day shelter. It is vey charitable of people to take time out of their day to help others in need. I cannot wait for your blog next week.

  18. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    Happy belated Christmas and New Year! I enjoyed reading about your holiday activities. It was very generous and kind of you to visit the Pine Street Inn on Christmas Eve and the St. Francis House day shelter on Christmas day. I believe these two sanctuaries represent a great and needy cause. I wish them both the best in their mission of following Christ by helping others in need. God Bless.

  19. Dear Cardinal Sean, i wish to send you the warmest greetings for the New Year. I hope it will be a blessed year for you, filled with peace, grace and joy. I am from Northern Ireland; from Downpatrick to be exact, which is so closely associated with St Patrick. He set foot in Ireland only 3 miles away at Saul and his final resting place is here in Downpatrick. I came across your blog site by accident – a happy accident! I am very impressed with all that you have done and I wish you every blessing on your ministry. I had the privilege of visiting your beautiful Cathedral quite a few years ago. It was closed at the time and the Nuns from the Cardinal Cushing shop opposite the Cathedral phoned the Sacristan and he gave me and my family a personal guided tour – a most memorable time for me. Anyhow, please accepy my sincere good wishes for all that you do. God bless you. Diarmuid

  20. Cardinal
    God bless your fantastic pastoral work. I am always extreemly impressed by your love for and your constant celebrating with your flock. May your year be richly blessed.

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