Cardinal joins Easter Vigil with Greek Orthodox community

BRAINTREE -- Continuing an annual tradition expressing unity between the Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches in Boston, Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley attended the Easter vigil at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Boston on the night of May 4. The Catholic Church celebrates Easter according to the Gregorian calendar, while the Eastern Churches use the Julian calendar to determine the date. Therefore, in most years, the two churches celebrate Easter on different days.

"It is a great joy and a privilege to be here and represent my flock in the Roman Catholic community," Cardinal O'Malley told the assembly at the vigil.

In his time as archbishop of Boston, Cardinal O'Malley has made ecumenical outreach to Boston's Orthodox community a priority. It is also customary for Metropolitan Methodios, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Boston, to visit the Cathedral of the Holy Cross during Holy Week.

Metropolitan Methodios attended the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on March 26, the Tuesday of Holy Week. There, he called Cardinal O'Malley his "brother" and thanked him for his "visionary leadership."

Speaking to the assembly at his cathedral, Metropolitan Methodios thanked Cardinal O'Malley for attending the vigil.

"I don't need to welcome you here because this is your cathedral as well," he said. "The people that are in the congregation love and respect you because they recognize in you a man of God, a leader of our church, a leader of the Boston community, and a leader of the religious community in America."

Both Cardinal O'Malley and Metropolitan Methodios mentioned that the year 2025 marks the 1,700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea, held when there was one unified Christian church. Metropolitan Methodios said that during that year, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will "hopefully sit down" to determine a shared date for both churches to celebrate Easter.

"As we have said many times in the past, both of us are blessed by God to celebrate Easter twice," Metropolitan Methodios said. "Once in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, and second in this cathedral church. The time has come for Christianity to celebrate Easter on the same day."

Metropolitan Methodios concluded his remarks by praying for the cardinal's health, so that he "can continue shining the radiant light of our Lord's resurrection in the community in which we live."

In his remarks at the Annunciation Cathedral, Cardinal O'Malley noted that 2025 will be a Jubilee Year of Hope for the Catholic Church, with Pope Francis encouraging the faithful to be "pilgrims of hope." He called the Orthodox Easter vigil "a sign of hope" for all Christians to be better witnesses for their faith.

"Our hope is that the unity that Christ prayed for will be realized so that we will be able to celebrate the Eucharist together," he said. "The Lord wants us to be able to do it together as one, as his family, as his disciples."

He wished Metropolitan Methodios a happy Easter and referenced Christ's words, "Love one another as I love you."

"In today's world where there's so much unbelief and so much darkness," he said, "we as believers stand before the empty tomb and know that the risen Lord walks with us, calling us to discipleship, calling us to be his followers."

Along with giving remarks, Cardinal O'Malley participated in the Divine Liturgy by reading from Mark 16, when Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome discover the empty tomb.