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Remains of Cardinal O’Connell could be relocated


A statue of an angel appears to stand guard over the small chapel containing the tomb of Cardinal William O’Connell. Pilot file photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

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If a request by the archdiocese and Boston College is granted, the body of one its most historically influential leaders could be moved to a suburban prep school, against wishes he expressed in his will.

In mid-September, the Archdiocese of Boston and Boston College jointly filed a petition with the Probate and Family Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to relocate Cardinal William O’Connell’s remains from the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the former grounds of St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, to St. Sebastian’s School in Needham. The petition to relocate is required by state law.

“Establishing Cardinal O’Connell’s permanent resting place at St. Sebastian’s will provide current and future generations the opportunity to gain an appreciation of Cardinal O’Connell’s significant contributions to the life of the Catholic Church,” Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley said. “Through this memorial, we will be able to ensure that the Cardinal’s many achievements as Archbishop of Boston will always be remembered and honored.”

In 2004 and 2007, the archdiocese reached agreement with Boston College for the purchase and sale of property from the archdiocese’s Brighton campus. A condition of the sale of the property to BC was the relocation of Cardinal O’Connell’s body. As a result of the sale, BC now owns the property on which O’Connell’s burial ground sits as well as surrounding acreage. St. John’s Seminary is still archdiocesan property.

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