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The Iraq crisis

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Welcome back!

This week we were praying for the spiritual success of the Holy Father’s visit to Korea, which was his first trip to Asia.

It was a very joyous and successful trip, unfortunately the Holy Father’s joy was quickly tempered by the death of three of his family members. His nephew, a young argentine physician, coming home from vacation was involved in a serious automobile accident that has put him in critical condition in the hospital and caused the death of his wife and two young children. I know that people throughout the world are praying for the Holy Father and for his family at this time.

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Another very tragic event this week was the murder of a young journalist from New Hampshire, Jim Foley.


He is from a Catholic family that’s very involved in the life of the Church in their parish. There was a very active prayer group praying for his safety in his last months. There are many beautiful accounts of Jim Foley’s devotion to the Rosary, that being a source of strength for him in his captivity. The death of Jim Foley just underscores the violence that so many people are suffering in the Middle East.

Friday, at the Mass for young Catholic adults on the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady at St. Leonard’s in the North End, we prayed in a very special way for the Church in Iraq, where so many are fleeing ISIS.


Youth entering St. Leonard’s before the Mass


The very ones that killed Jim Foley are also killing religious minorities there, enslaving the women, and have marked the houses of Christians — giving them just hours to decide whether they would convert to Islam or abandon their homes. So, Christians have been leaving in droves from the traditionally Christian parts of Iraq where there have been Catholics since the beginning of Christianity. Now they are being displaced because of this fanatical persecution of the Church by ISIS and people who share their worldview. The Archdiocese will be taking up a collection to help the Christian refugees there, and we urge everyone to continue praying for peaceful solutions in that part of the world.  At the Mass at St. Leonard’s, Mother Olga spoke about the situation in Iraq.

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The next day, I met with a group of leaders from our local Iraqi Catholic community.


The priest, Father Bassim Shoni, Chaplain to the Iraqi Community of Boston, was there with them.


It’s very, very disturbing. All of them have families who have been displaced and who have lost their homes and all of their possessions. Their lives have been in danger.


Later that day, they had a special Mass at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes parish  in Newton to pray and offer support for Iraqi Christians. Father Michael Harrington, director of our Office of Outreach and Cultural Diversity, presided at that Mass


At the end of the Mass they processed outside to offer their intentions before the Virgin Mary.


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On Sunday I went to Brockton to visit the Sisters of Jesus Crucified, a Lithuanian order of sisters that has been in the Archdiocese for many years and has run schools and a nursing home. They were having their chapter, and I always preside over the installation of their provincial superiors.


So, we had the installation of the three sisters — the major superior and the two councilors. It’s a very small community. There are very few sisters left in the world. That’s the only convent they have. Some of these communities that were founded for ethnic groups never opened beyond that ethnic group and so when the language within that group was gone the vocations kind of dried up.


Part of their ministry of hospitality has been taking people in and they have Dominican sisters from Vietnam with them who are learning English.


All of the themes in their chapel represent the passion and the crucifixion.

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Every year we have a meeting and retreat for the bishops of the New England Region at Saint Edmund’s on Enders Island. That’s the Hartford and the Boston provinces.


This time we had a number of new bishops in attendance. Of course, Bishop Deeley is the new Bishop of Portland, Maine. He was there, and also Bishop Rozanski who was just installed in Springfield, as well as the new Archbishop of Hartford Leonard Blair and the new and future Bishop of Fall River, Bishop da Cunha.



Msgr. James Moroney preached the retreat. There were almost 20 bishops there. It’s always a very wonderful week. We were blessed with great weather, and the retreat house staff takes such good care of the grounds.


They also have a number of ministries promoting the arts. I took some pictures of the stained glass windows in the sacristy — all on a resurrection theme.





They also do a lot of work with people suffering from addictions. They have a recovery residence, The Saint Maximilian Kolbe Sober Living Community. They told me that Saint Maximilian Kolbe has become known as the patron saint of addicts, which I did not know.


They have this beautiful brochure about their ministry with great photos and more information.

Until my next post.

Cardinal Seán

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The installation of Bishop Rozanski

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Hello and welcome,

Each year around the Feast of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests, we hold a lecture, Vespers service and cookout for our priests at St. John’s Seminary.Annual Vianney gathering at St. John’s Seminary, Aug. 7, 2014. Pilot photo/ Christopher S. Pineo

This year, Father John Sassani gave the lecture on prayer. It was a very helpful and practical conference that was much appreciated by the priests.Annual Vianney gathering at St. John’s Seminary, Aug. 7, 2014. Pilot photo/ Christopher S. Pineo

After the Vespers service in the Chapel at St. John’s, we had a lovely cookout outside on the lawn. It was very well attended. I think we had about 100 men with us.Annual Vianney gathering at St. John’s Seminary, Aug. 7, 2014. Pilot photo/ Christopher S. Pineo Annual Vianney gathering at St. John’s Seminary, Aug. 7, 2014. Pilot photo/ Christopher S. Pineo

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Tuesday, I had the joy of attending the installation of the new Bishop of Springfield, Bishop Mitchell Rozanski. The nuncio was in attendance as well as a number of bishops, particularly from the Northeast.ROZANSKI-INSTALLROZANSKI-INSTALLROZANSKI-INSTALLSpringfield_020

Bishop Rozanski was formerly the auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore so also in attendance was Archbishop Lori and the former archbishop, Cardinal O’Brien. ROZANSKI-INSTALL

His parents and family were also in attendance.Proud parents of Bishop Rozanski

The people were very pleased to welcome their new Bishop. He gave a lovely homily and he spoke a bit in Spanish and also in Polish, which was well received because they have a significant Polish community in the Springfield Diocese.

The occasion was also an opportunity for us to express our thanks to Bishop Timothy McDonald, who has served as Bishop of Springfield for 10 years.

During my time in Springfield I also had a chance to visit with Bishop Joe Maguire, who lives very near the Cathedral. He is originally from Brighton, was ordained for Boston and was a Boston auxiliary before being named coadjutor bishop in Springfield in 1976.

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Among the vocations in the Church, particularly one that was restored after the Vatican Council II, is the vocation of the consecrated virgin. Mass and luncheon for consecrated virgins of the Archdiocese of Boston at the archdiocese’s Pastoral Center, Aug. 13, 2014  Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

We were very happy to have the consecrated virgins from the archdiocese join me at the noon Mass here at the archdiocese’s Pastoral Center, and afterwards for lunch.Mass and luncheon for consecrated virgins of the Archdiocese of Boston at the archdiocese’s Pastoral Center, Aug. 13, 2014  Pilot photo/ Gregory L. TracyMass and luncheon for consecrated virgins of the Archdiocese of Boston at the archdiocese’s Pastoral Center, Aug. 13, 2014  Pilot photo/ Gregory L. TracyMass and luncheon for consecrated virgins of the Archdiocese of Boston at the archdiocese’s Pastoral Center, Aug. 13, 2014  Pilot photo/ Gregory L. TracyMass and luncheon for consecrated virgins of the Archdiocese of Boston at the archdiocese’s Pastoral Center, Aug. 13, 2014  Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

We were joined by Sister Marian Batho, who is our Delegate for Religious and Consecrated Life and is the one who coordinates their activities here in the archdiocese. During lunch, they had a chance to update me on their latest activities.Mass and luncheon for consecrated virgins of the Archdiocese of Boston at the archdiocese’s Pastoral Center, Aug. 13, 2014  Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

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We are very pleased that Pilot reporter Christopher Pineo has received the Archbishop O’Meara Award from the Pontifical Mission Societies. The Pontifical Mission Societies (the most well-known of which is the Society for the Propagation of the Faith) gives the award each year to recognize excellent coverage related to the missions in the Catholic press. Chris won the award for his story about youngsters from Plymouth running a lemonade stand to raise money for the Missionary Childhood Association.

Father Rodney Copp and Maureen Heil of our local Pontifical Mission Societies office were present for the official presentation of the award in my office Wednesday afternoon.Pilot staff reporter Christopher S. Pineo receives his plaque of the Pontifical Mission Societies’ Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Award from Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley Aug. 13, 2014. Pineo took first place in the category of Mission Animation News for his Aug. 30, 2013 story “Plymouth Religious Ed Students Use Lemonade Stand to Spread the Good News.” First presented in 1993, the award recognizes excellence in coverage of world mission news in the Catholic press.<br /><br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy<br /><br />

The Pilot has always been a very important instrument for raising mission awareness so, it seemed very fitting that there should be a recognition of the good work that is being done there to help people grow in their knowledge and commitment to the Church’s mission “ad gentes,” to the peoples.

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In the afternoon, we met with the auditors who come each year to the archdiocese to examine how well we are in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.USCCB Child Protection auditors meet with Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley in the cardinal’s Braintree office Aug. 13, 2014. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

This is a very important service of the local church to help us make sure that we are fulfilling all our commitments to screening, education and the other requirements that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has implemented to guarantee best practices in the area of child protection.

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That evening, I went to Dedham to join the Society of African Missions house in Dedham for their annual Mass and social. The provincial was the celebrant, but I addressed them at the end of the Mass. SMA-20140813_190001

The SMA fathers have been in the diocese for about 50 years. Previously they had a seminary here but now they have a mission house. They always send a group of about a dozen priests for the summer who help out at different parishes. It is a wonderful assistance for the archdiocese because very often our own priests are looking for a replacement so they can take a little time off during the summer.SMA-20140813_190138

The SMA Fathers were there, as well as a number of pastors and some of the parishioners of the parishes where they have been helping out during the summer.

photo 2They presented me with this beautiful reliquary

At the Mass they sang in French and English and some members of our local African communities sang in some of their native languages. The meal following the Mass featured a number of different African foods.

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Thursday, Congressman Stephen Lynch came to see me. He recently made a visit to the Texas-Mexico border as well as to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. RepLynch_2

He was there on a fact-finding mission for the Congress regarding the situation of the unaccompanied minors who are attempting to come to the United States. He has also been on several missions to Afghanistan and Iraq and wanted to discuss some of these issues with me.

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We have many priests visiting Boston from different parts the world during the summertime. So, this week we were happy to welcome a professor and the spiritual director of the seminary in Turin, Italy to the Cathedral for a couple of days. They stayed at St. James Church but we invited them to eat with us at the Cathedral.Turin_3

I told them that we had Capuchins from Torino province working for many years in the archdiocese, at St. Patrick’s in Roxbury.

It was very interesting because one of the priests from their diocese was the rector of the seminary in Verapaz, Guatemala when I made my visitation there. It was a seminary for indigenous peoples and he was an Italian Fidei Donum priest working there. I could not recall his name but I remembered him very well. So, it was surprising for me when these priests said he wanted to be remembered to me. It just goes to show, it really is a small world.

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Thursday afternoon, I was visited by Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the newly named Chief of the American Interests Section, which is what we call our quasi-embassy in Cuba since we do not have formal diplomatic relations with the Cuban government. They have their representatives in Washington and we have ours in Havana, but they are not a full Embassy though Ambassador DeLaurentis has full ambassadorial rank.Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis meets with Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley in the cardinal’s Braintree office Aug. 14, 2014. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

He has had a very interesting diplomatic career. He has been most recently involved in the United Nations, but in the past he has worked in the mission in Cuba. So, he is returning to a country where he spent time before.

This is a very important moment in American diplomacy, particularly around the issue of Alan Gross’s captivity and the desire to normalize the relationship between our countries and bring an end to the embargo.

It was an interesting opportunity to hear some of the ambassador’s ideas and share some of my own recent experiences in Cuba. He also told me he is very aware of the important work that is being done here in Boston to support Caritas Cubana, particularly through the efforts of Consuelo Isaacson and Micho Spring. Their work with Friends of Caritas Cubana is vital in supporting the Church’s programs helping the elderly and children and through food and medical aid programs.

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Finally, in light of the terrible recent events in Iraq, the Church throughout the world and locally have asked Catholics to offer their prayers.

Tonight, I will be celebrating a Mass with young adults at St. Leonard’s in the North End on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, and I will be offering the Mass for the people of Iraq. After the Mass, Mother Olga, who is from Iraq, will address the young adults. Tomorrow, there will also be a special Mass at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish in Newton at 5:30pm, at which we will join the Iraqi Community of Boston in praying for peace and an end to the persecution of Christians.

We have also asked all our parishes this weekend to remember the people of Iraq in their prayers of the faithful. It is important that we pray for them during this time when so much of the Christian population has been completely displaced and so many people have lost their homes, their families, and even their lives.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

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