This time of the year many families reunite to celebrate together the birth of Christ. I was very happy to have some of my relatives be with me in Boston at Christmas and also to visit others in Florida later in the week. It is always a great gift to be able to be together to celebrate the gift of the Savior to the world.
Yet, at Christmastime we are very aware of the fact that in many parts of the world for people to practice their faith requires great courage. These situations, especially in Iraq, Egypt, and now with the bombings in Nigeria, are a reminder of how difficult it is for many people to practice their faith. So, we pray that in the New Year there will be greater freedom for the Church and safety for people who are trying to live their faith.
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On Christmas Eve, I visited the Pine Street Inn in South Boston. I always feel happy to go and to be able to draw attention to this crucial ministry in Boston to care for the homeless.
With Pine Street director Lyndia Downie
We were also accompanied by Msgr. Robert Deeley, Albert Heeley, Terry Donilon and Lisa Alberghini from our Planning Office of Urban Affairs, which has just finished a wonderful project with the Pine Street Inn.
Msgr. Deeley helps out
Touring the facility with Lisa Alberghini
I helped to serve lunch to the residents and visited with them.
It is always very encouraging to see the large number of volunteers who come each year. Many people even bring their children to help be a part of the efforts at Pine Street Inn. We are so grateful to them and to all who made an effort to help those less fortunate during this season. But I also like to remind people that the needs at places like the Pine Street Inn are not just at Christmastime, but all year round.
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A tradition in many families is attending Midnight Mass for the Solemnity of Christmas. So I was very happy be joined by so many for Midnight Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. A number of priests also came to celebrate the Mass with me.
The Cathedral was spectacularly decorated with a manger, wreaths, and beautiful lighting.
Before the Mass the Chorus led a session of carols for the people who arrived before the start of Mass.
My nephew Tom, his wife Melissa and their baby — also named Seán O’Malley — brought up the gifts.
With Melissa, Tom and little Seán after the Mass
It was a wonderful celebration of faith.
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WHDH Channel 7 broadcasted the Christmas morning Mass, as they do every year.
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On Christmas Day, I visited St. Francis House in downtown Boston. There, I had a prayer service, visited with the residents, and sang carols with the residents and staff.
St. Francis House offers a number of services to homeless people. For example, during the day, they feed about 800 people. St. Francis House director Karen LaFrazia introduced me to some of the people working to prepare the meals.
Father Jonathan Gaspar helped lead the singing for the prayer service.
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After our Christmas celebrations here in the archdiocese, I departed for Florida to visit with some of my relatives.
Wednesday, I had lunch with Claire O’Malley and a few of my aunts and cousins.
I was blessed with the company of these nine women.
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As I have said, Christmastime is a season of traditions and, ever since I was ordained, I have celebrated New Years Eve Mass around midnight to begin the New Year in prayer.
Here in Boston our custom has been to dedicate this vigil and Mass to the Gospel of Life. We would like to invite people who would like to join us at 10 p.m. for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with witness talk at St. Leonard’s Church in the North End followed by a Mass at 11:30 p.m. If you haven’t come before, why not make this a new holiday tradition? I hope to see you there!
– Cardinal Seán