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From Cardinal Seán's blog

On Sunday, May 26, Cardinal O'Malley visited St. Leonard Church in the North End to dedicate some of the final restorations that have taken place there. Pilot photo/Patrick E. O'Connor

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Last Friday, we had a farewell Mass and reception at the Pastoral Center for Kathy Mears, who recently concluded her service as superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Boston, after serving in that post since 2014. She is returning to her hometown of Indianapolis because her husband has been called back there for work.

With us for the Mass and reception were members of the archdiocesan cabinet and, of course, the staff of the Catholic Schools Office.

We are so grateful for the energy and the dedication to Catholic identity and academic excellence that Kathy brought to her position. We thank her for all her hard work and for the accomplishments that she was able to achieve during her tenure, and we wish her all the best.

Deer Island

On Saturday morning, I went to Deer Island for the dedication of a memorial marking the gravesite of hundreds of Irish immigrants who died there in quarantine in the 1840s, waiting to be allowed into the country.

Though Deer Island is today connected to the town of Winthrop by a strip of land, in those days it was a true island and was the place where many of the so-called "coffin ships" bearing refugees from the Irish famine landed. Those who were thought too ill to be let into the country were held there in quarantine, and many of them died in the hospital on the island. It wasn't until the 1990s that they discovered an unmarked gravesite of many of those people. The site is now marked by a beautiful stone Celtic cross.

I was impressed by the huge crowd of people who came to mark the occasion. The ceremony included an opening prayer by Msgr. Kevin O'Leary and remarks by MWRA executive director Fred Laskey, Mayor Walsh, myself, and Boston City historian John McColgan, who gave a synopsis of what had taken place on Deer Island.

There was also a wonderful Irish singer, Mairin Ui Cheide Keady, who sang both the American and Irish national anthems.

In my remarks, I spoke about how, in many of the coffin ships, the parents would give all the food to their children. Consequently, many of the parents died and were buried at sea and the ships would arrive in the U.S. full of orphans. I reflected on the fact that today we have a similar situation on our borders, with parents making untold sacrifices to save the lives of their children.

I also spoke about how hyper-individualistic our culture is, and that being there on Deer Island was a call, not just to memorialize the people who died there, but to feel a connectedness to them and their suffering. It was also a call to feel a connectedness to all those throughout the world who are fleeing hunger and oppression.

St. Leonard Church

On Sunday, I went to St. Leonard Church in the North End to dedicate some of the final restorations that have taken place at the parish. During my visit, I blessed the statues of St. Francis and St. Clare, the organ, and the newly renovated parish hall.

We are so grateful for the leadership that Father Antonio Nardoianni has given to the parish. We are also grateful to the many benefactors who made these renovations possible, particularly the St. Joseph Society. Through their generosity, the church has been transformed and is just stunning. I know the parish is very proud of all that has been accomplished, as they should be.

Visit from Brazil

On Tuesday afternoon, I was visited by the vicar general of the Diocese of Abaetetuba, Brazil, who was accompanied by one of the local Xaverian Fathers from the Fatima Shrine in Holliston. He was in Boston and came to greet me on behalf of his bishop, Bishop Jose Maria Chaves Dos Reis. He brought me a gift of a toy parrot, which was crafted by local artisans in his region.

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