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From Cardinal Seán's blog

Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley serves meals to men gathered at Boston's Pine Street Inn for lunch on Christmas Eve. In his blog this week, the cardinal recounts his visit to Pine Street Inn as well as his other Christmas-week events. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy

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Then (12/20), in the evening we had a wonderful gathering at the Pastoral Center with all our seminarians studying at the different seminaries, St. John, Blessed John XXIII, Redemptoris Mater and our college seminarians who study in Providence. We began the evening with Mass followed by dinner, where we sang Christmas carols and other songs. I gave each seminarian a small gift as a token of our appreciation. We were very pleased that almost all the seminarians were able to be with us. We are always anxious to have opportunities to bring them all together.

Pine Street Inn

On Tuesday (12/24) afternoon, Christmas Eve, as I do every year I went to Pine Street Inn to help with serving meals to the homeless. I was very happy to see that Boston mayor-elect Marty Walsh was also there with me. Going there with the mayor-elect and other public officials is a way of helping to raise awareness of the problem of homelessness in our community. Of course, it is also an opportunity to be with these people who, in their homelessness, share the fate of the Holy Family at Christmas.

We are blessed to have Pine Street Inn, which was founded over almost 45 years ago, and has made an extraordinary contribution tour city in caring for -- and advocating for -- the homeless. One woman I spoke to was homeless because there had been a fire in her home and she has been there ever since. Others, even though they are working, do not make enough money to rent an apartment. So, we see that though there are many different causes of homelessness, at Christmas time it can be particularly difficult to be homeless, no matter what the cause. This Christmas, with the weather that has been so cold, it is certainly even more challenging.

We are so grateful to the director of Pine Street, Lyndia Downie, who continues to do extraordinary work there and to our Planning Office for Urban Affairs, which works in conjunction with Pine Street to develop low-income housing to help move residents out of homelessness.

Midnight Mass

That night, we celebrated Christmas Midnight Mass at the cathedral. In recent years, I have heard of several churches that have stopped celebrating Midnight Mass, but it is a tradition that we continue at the Cathedral. I think it is very meaningful to have the Eucharist celebrated at midnight on Christmas. Obviously, the full cathedral was an indication that many people agree with that assessment. As always, Father Kevin O'Leary and his assistants did excellent job preparing the Cathedral. The decorations were just stunning.

Visit to St. Francis House

On Christmas morning (12/25), I visited St. Francis House. St. Francis House shelters some people overnight but also provides a place for those in other shelters to gather in a warm place during the day and offers many programs to help transition people from homelessness. Every year, I celebrate a Christmas Liturgy of the Word there. We read the Gospel, reflected on it and sang Christmas carols with the residents and some of the volunteers. The executive director, Karen LaFrazia, is doing extraordinary job and we are grateful for her dedication. It was also wonderful to see the many volunteers who made time at this busy time of year to help others. Some even brought their children to help provide services to the homeless. I am sure that was a very meaningful experience for those young people.

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