Day: September 16, 2011

Gathering with my brother Capuchin bishops

Hello and welcome back!

Before sharing the events of my week with you, I’d like to take a moment to call your attention to the Archdiocese’s third annual dinner in Celebration of the Priesthood that will take place at the Seaport World Trade Center this coming Thursday, September 22.


This important event raises critical funds for the trusts that support our priests’ medical needs and retirement for the almost 250 senior priests, most of who continue to assist in parishes, schools and other Archdiocesan agencies.

Please join me in attending this celebration or, if you are unable to attend, consider a gift to the Clergy Funds in honor of the priests who have made a difference in you and your family’s lives. More information is available at On behalf of my brother priests who serve in this Archdiocese, thank you for your support and generosity.

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I was very pleased to be able to participate in Archbishop Charles Chaput’s installation as the new Archbishop of Philadelphia last Wednesday.


The ceremony was very beautiful, and the archbishop gave a very moving homily on what it means to be a bishop. We pray for him, that the Lord will guide him and bless him and allow him to bring healing to the Church in Philadelphia.


As I’ve mentioned before, Archbishop Charles and I are classmates. We studied four years together in college, at the Capuchin novitiate and also for four years of theology. We’re very proud of him and very enthused that the Holy Father has given him this responsibility.

The cathedral in Philadelphia is very beautiful and full of history. The archdiocese was founded at the same time that Boston was, just over 200 years ago. One of their former bishops was, of course, St. John Neumann. St. Katharine Drexel is also from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.



It is a church that has such a glorious history and we know that is has a glorious future as well.

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From Philadelphia I travelled to Rome for a worldwide meeting of Capuchin bishops.

Father Bob Oliver was with me and we arrived on Saturday. We had some meetings but in the afternoon, I wanted to visit the Basilica di San Bartolomeo all’Isola (the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Island). As the name implies, it is located on an island in the Tiber River.

It’s an old church that the Franciscans had for about 500 years, and recently it was entrusted to the Community of Sant’Egidio.



The church has very important relics in it, including the body of St. Bartholomew the Apostle and the relics of St. Adalbert, who was Bishop of Prague and is one of the patrons of Poland.





The tomb of St. Bartholomew

When Blessed Pope John Paul II entrusted the church to the Sant’Egidio community, it was so that they could make a special shrine to the modern martyrs. And so each of the lateral altars is dedicated to a different group of martyrs: from Latin America, Mexico and Spain to the Nazi era, the Communist era, and Asia. It is a very moving experience to visit there and reflect on modern martyrs in the Church.


The altar with relics of Spain and Mexico


Africa and Madagascar


The Americas


Asia, Oceania and the Mideast

Nearby there is a waterfall. I had never seen a waterfall in the Tiber, so I wanted to share a photo of it with you.


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On Monday, I came to San Giovanni Rotondo where we were meeting with almost 70 Capuchin Bishops from throughout the world. This is only the second time we’ve met as a group. We met in the year 2000 in Assisi and our Father General called us together now for this meeting in San Giovanni Rotondo.


I had the keynote address on the Capuchin identity in the episcopacy.

Then we visited a very old shrine dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, which was initiated in the 4th century.





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This shrine was one of the great pilgrimage sites in the Middle Ages. Pilgrims would try to go to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Rome, the Shrine to the Archangel, and then on to the Holy Land.


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On Tuesday, we had Mass at the tomb of St. Padre Pio.


This was the altar at which Padre Pio celebrated the Mass each day during the two years he was not allowed to minister publicly

The following day, we were given a chance to go back to appreciate the mosaics in the chapel.

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The artwork in the crypt is by the famous Jesuit artist Father Marko Rupnik, who decorated the Redemptoris Mater chapel in the Vatican.

Padre Pio’s tomb is behind the altar, in a sort of a rounded area a slit in the wall, so you can look through and see the coffin.




During the trip, I was also able to have dinner with one of our auxiliary bishops, Bishop Arthur Kennedy— who is in Rome taking the course for new bishops that’s organized by the Holy See. He and Bishop Chris Coyne — a priest from our Boston Archdiocese who is now an auxiliary bishop in the Archbishop of Indianpolis — are part of that group.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

September 2011
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