2005: Five years into the journey


Archbishop names new Pastoral Council

Jan. 20: Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley’s reconstituted Archdiocesan Pastoral Council held its first official meeting on Jan. 20. The previous Pastoral Council, a lay advisory group under the Office of the Secretary for Pastoral Services, was automatically disbanded when Cardinal Bernard Law resigned in December 2002. Canon law requires that the body dissolve when the see becomes vacant. Archbishop O’Malley met with the council’s steering committee and listened to their suggestions before forming the new council. Based on the recommendations of the steering committee, new statutes were completed in November of last year. Council member Elizabeth Mingolelli said the current changes in the Archdiocese of Boston remind her of the period of the change following the Second Vatican Council. “It was a feeling of rejuvenation and growth.”

Archbishop, Catholic bioethicist discuss stem cell research on BCTV

March 3: Boston Catholic Television aired a special program featuring Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley and bioethicist Father Tadeusz “Tad” Pacholczyk speaking on the subject of stem cell research. Father Pacholczyk is the director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center. The BCTV program was taped in front of a studio audience composed of college students and others. The program aired four times March 3 to 7.

Archbishop sends priests to closed parishes for Easter Sunday

March 27: In an gesture of good will, Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley sent priests to celebrate Easter Masses for Catholics of three parishes closed in reconfiguration--St. Albert the Great in Weymouth, St. Anselm in Sudbury and Star of the Sea Parish in Quincy. St. Albert’s and St. Anselm’s have held round-the-clock vigils since closure last September and appealed the decision to shutter their churches. The archbishop sent priests to both for Christmas Masses as well.

Archbishop accepts committee report, modifies reconfiguration

March 31: Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley announced March 31 that he accepted all of the 10 recommendations from the Reconfiguration Review Committee’s report, which included reopening a closed parish and modifying the status of three others. The committee was led by co-chairs Peter Meade and Sister Janet Eisner, SND. St. Albert the Great Parish in Weymouth will reopen, and St. Florence Parish in Wakefield will remain open despite being set for closure. St. Anselm Church in Sudbury will remain open as a chapel of St. George Parish in Framingham, and the pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Lexington, which was scheduled to close, will become pastor for both parishes in Lexington. Five suppressed parishes--Infant Jesus-St. Lawrence in Brookline, Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Boston, St. Therese in Everett, St. James in Wellesley and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Scituate--will remain closed. Sacred Heart Parish in Watertown will close, although the closing date was delayed. The committee will also continue to review several parishes, including St. Pius Tenth in Milton, St. Susanna in Dedham, St. Mary of the Angels in Roxbury and St. Thomas the Apostle in Peabody.

Archbishop celebrates Mass for the soul of Pope John Paul II

April 3: At the South End’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley celebrated a Mass on April 3 for the soul of Pope John Paul II. “On this Sunday after Easter, we are joined to Catholics throughout the world to celebrate the Divine Mercy Sunday; one of the gifts Pope John Paul II gave to the Church,” he said. “John Paul II’s life of sacrifice, of service, of fidelity is a call to all of us to follow Jesus Christ not from a safe distance but up close. Today, we come together to celebrate the life of a great pope, a man with a shepherd’s heart. We are surrounded by the symbols of Easter and the resurrection that betoken our faith, that life is changed, not ended.”

Boston Catholics respond to new pope

April 19: Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley joined other Boston Catholics in welcoming the news of the election of Pope Benedict XIV. “Our Holy Father was a close collaborator with Pope John Paul II in the central administration of the Church. Pope Benedict XVI was also the residential bishop of the archdiocese of Munich, a position of great pastoral responsibility, and has considerable academic credentials,” said the archbishop. “All of these experiences and achievements put our Holy Father in good stead as he begins his ministry as Shepherd of the Universal Church.”

Archbishop redraws regional boundaries

May 23: Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley issued decrees May 23 to move the archdiocese’s regional and vicariate boundaries in order to equalize the number of parishes in each of the five regions and the vicariates. The restructuring of regions, vicariates and clusters was necessary “to better suit the needs of the archdiocese now that we are well into the process of reconfiguration,” wrote Archbishop O’Malley in a letter to priests of the archdiocese. “The reconfiguration of the archdiocese gave us a very unequal number of parishes in the different regions, so the archbishop formed a task force and gave the mandate that we would have five regions in the archdiocese of approximately equal number of parishes,” said Father Arthur M. Coyle, secretary for pastoral services.

Archbishop joins seminarians for ‘Family Day’

July 24: More than 60 seminarians and family members gathered together for a Mass and barbecue at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston on July 24 to celebrate the vocations of these men. It is a gathering of the diocesan family, said Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley who celebrated the Mass and met with the seminarians afterward. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to get a chance to get acquainted with the seminarians and their families,” he said.

Boston pilgrims attend World Youth Day celebrations in Cologne

Aug 15: Pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Boston spent their first days in Germany fighting off jet lag while sharing stories with people from all over the world, singing familiar songs and looking forward to upcoming World Youth Day events. The 158 Bostonians arrived in Germany on Aug. 15 with another 300 people from different Boston parishes who joined them on their own. Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley met up with the Boston pilgrims during the week and celebrated a morning Mass with them Aug. 20 in Cologne.

St. Columbkille welcomes students from closed schools

Sept. 6: More than 70 students from the St. Anthony of Padua School in Allston, closed in August, were welcomed Sept. 6 into Brighton’s St. Columbkille School community for the new academic year. “It has been a very difficult situation, but it has gone on in the best possible way,” said Father Charles J. Higgins, the pastor of St. Anthony’s, who was on hand to greet students and parents during the first week of school. “Difficult as it is, it is a wonderful opportunity for community building.”

Archbishop joins rededication of New England Holocaust Memorial

Sept. 18: Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley attended the 10th anniversary and rededication of the New England Holocaust Memorial, which he called the “beacon of memory and hope.”

Newton parishioners protest pastor’s resignation

Sept. 26: The archdiocese accepted the resignation of Father Walter Cuenin as pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians in Newton after financial irregularities were discovered in a parish audit. According to the archdiocese, Father Cuenin improperly accepted stipends from the parish in excess of archdiocesan policies, drove a car leased by the parish, and accepted compensation from both the parish and the archdiocese while on a sabbatical.

Father Christopher Coyne was appointed to replace him as pastor Sept. 27.

The archdiocese said Father Cuenin has agreed to reimburse the parish between $75,000 and $85,000. Members of Our Lady’s finance council stated they approved Father Cuenin’s expenditures and were unaware they were in violation of Church rules.

Archbishop pledges solidarity with Jewish community

Sept. 30: In a Sept. 30 letter to Jewish community leaders, Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley offered his prayers and best wishes during their celebration of Rosh Hashanah and pledged to work together so that “anti-Semitism and any hatred for others may be uprooted from every human heart,” he wrote. “On behalf of the archdiocese and the Church I pledge to work with you to teach the lessons learned at such a terrible cost during the Shoah.”

Archbishop celebrates annual White Mass for health care workers

Oct. 14: “I’m happy to come here with my own steam because last time I was here I had to be carried in,” Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley told a group of physicians gathered for the White Mass Oct. 14 at Caritas St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center. The Mass and following banquet, held annually in October, is sponsored by the Guild of St. Luke and honors St. Luke, the patron saint of physicians. The archbishop, who was recently hospitalized for an acute inner ear infection, spoke of St. Luke as “a man of such compassion.” He said that in his Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles, “we see how St. Luke’s compassion made him focus on Jesus’ compassion and love for the little ones, for the sick, the poor and those who are forgotten.”

Archbishop sets timetable for financial transparency

Oct. 19: In a significant step toward full financial transparency, Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley has announced a timetable for the release of financial reports of all entities under direct control of the Archdiocese of Boston. “A year ago I assured the people of the archdiocese that we would have full transparency, disclosure of our economic situation,” the archbishop said. “We are doing this to help the Catholics in the archdiocese to understand the seriousness of the challenges the archdiocese faces and to reassure them that the parish closings are not a result of the sex abuse settlements,” he said. “This commitment was motivated out of respect for people of the archdiocese as donors and members of our Church and to demonstrate to the general public that the archdiocese is fulfilling its fiduciary responsibilities.”

Committee to review Catholic adoption agency procedures

Nov. 4: The four bishops of Massachusetts have agreed to create a committee that will review whether the adoption practices of Catholic institutions in the Commonwealth are in compliance with Church teaching. The action comes after media reports revealed that Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston had arranged for the adoption of 13 children by same-sex couples over the last 20 years.

Vatican denies first reconfiguration appeal

Nov. 11: The Archdiocese of Boston announced the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy has denied an appeal to reverse the closure of St. William Parish in Dorchester. It was the first decision handed down in the cases of 15 parishes that have appealed their closing to the Vatican dicastery. St. William’s closed on Aug. 31, 2004, along with neighboring St. Margaret Parish in Dorchester. A new parish, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, was erected in the territory of both parishes. St. Margaret Church became the main worship site, and the new parish administers St. William School. Some former parishioners of St. William’s had appealed its closing.

Archbishop will not attend Catholic Charities Christmas dinner

Nov. 22: Catholic Charities announced Nov. 22 Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley will not attend the annual Catholic Charities Christmas dinner at which Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino will be thanked for his consistent support of Catholic Charities in Boston. “In light of the mayor’s past statements concerning abortion and same-sex marriage policies, the archbishop regrets that he cannot attend the dinner,” the statement said. “In doing this he acts in accord with the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ policy regarding public officials who are in conflict with Catholic teaching on specific issues.”

Compiled by Neil W. McCabe