Bidding farewell to Jack Shaughnessy

Hello and welcome!

Like many of you, I spent Thanksgiving with my family. Thanksgiving is such a beautiful celebration because it brings families together and makes us more aware of our indebtedness to God’s gracious and loving providence, and helps us to see that everything we have and everything we are is a gift from Him.

We had Mass at 3 o’clock in the afternoon at St. Richard’s Church where my cousin, Rob O’Malley, serves as deacon and where many of my family are parishioners. We had about 60 people for the Mass and the dinner that was held at the house of my cousin, Kelly Mulligan. Photo-11282013175413_7

The family gathered around the table as we made our prayer of Thanksgiving for the meal

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I returned to Boston on Friday, to be able to celebrate funeral Mass for Jack Shaughnessy on Saturday morning at Saint Elizabeth’s Church in Milton.

There was a tremendous outpouring of respect and affection for Jack shown by the many bishops, priests, religious, friends and members of the community who attended the wake and the funeral. I had visited him in the hospital just a couple days before he died. I prayed with him and entrusted him to Our Lady.Shaughnessy

Jack Shaughnessy was a man who lived his faith very profoundly and who was generous to all causes, particularly helping the poor and his Church. Jack’s generosity to the Church, the Catholic community and many good causes that help people in need was extraordinary. Among his oft-cited mottos was the scriptural citation, "God loves a cheerful giver", and Jack lived that truth. His son, speaking at the Mass, said that Jack had recently been audited by the IRS because they could not believe that anyone really gave that much money away!

Without question, Jack’s life was an expression of his gratitude for his many gifts from God, first and foremost the gift of faith and the gift of his beloved late wife Mary, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Jack’s final prayer in this life and our final prayer at his funeral Mass was the Memorare, a testament to his devotion to the Blessed Mother and his confidence, so often and readily shared with others, that her intercession was always dependable and effective, as had been his life-long experience. This beautiful prayer is a source of faith and inspiration for us all.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.


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Sunday, I celebrated the Spanish Mass for the first Sunday of Advent at the Cathedral the Holy Cross.

During the Mass, we celebrated the Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb for the new mothers. This is a beautiful rite that was issued by the bishops’ conference in early 2012 and we celebrated it for the first time last year, also in Advent.

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That afternoon, a group of us from the cathedral rectory attended the Handel and Haydn Society’s performance of The Messiah at Symphony Hall.

It was a beautiful way to mark the beginning of Advent.Photo-12012013145254_6

I had not been to Symphony Hall in a couple of years, so it was wonderful to go back for such a beautiful celebration. I was very happy to see many priests, religious, deacons and lay leaders from the community there as well.

The Society has performed the Messiah at Symphony Hall every year for over 150 years. In the program, they had pictures of some of the bulletins announcing the performance, the first one being from 1817.Photo-12012013161345_4

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That night I departed to Rome for my meetings with the Holy Father and the group of cardinals advising him, of which I am a part.

Immediately after I arrived, I was invited to attend a concert by Andrea Bocelli at the Vatican organized to benefit the Rome children’s hospital, Bambino Gesù. Photo-12022013201431_3

I was also pleased to have a chance to visit with our seminarians studying in Rome and Monsignor Connie McRae.Photo-12032013194910_1

Then, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we had our meetings. We celebrated Mass with the Holy Father each morning, followed by morning and afternoon meetings of the council.-SS. Francesco-Domus Sanctae Marthae-Riunione della Commissione cardinalizia   03-12-2013

 - (Copyright L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO - Servizio Fotografico -

Of course, I cannot speak of the content of our meetings. However, yesterday we did announce the Holy Father’s acceptance of our recommendation to establish a commission for child protection.

I was part of a press conference with Father Federico Lombardi, where I announced the formation of the commission and described generally what we hope it will accomplish.


You can watch it here:

(If you do not speak Italian, don’t be discouraged, I repeated my remarks in English beginning at around minute 6:30, and many of the questions from the journalists at the end are also in English).

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

December 2013
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