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From Cardinal Seán's blog

On Saturday, March 20, Cardinal O'Malley celebrated the confirmations of a group of students from Boston University at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Pilot photo/CardinalSeansBlog.org

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On Saturday, I was happy to celebrate the confirmations of a group of students from Boston University.

At the same time, as we were celebrating that Mass, they were celebrating the funeral of Rose Patek in Texas. Rose was instrumental in the building of the Betania II Retreat Center in Medway and, for many years, generously supported our campus ministry efforts, which included helping us to bring FOCUS campus ministry to the archdiocese.

Since we were having a confirmation for university students, it seemed appropriate to celebrate the Mass for her and invite some of those who benefited from her generosity. So, to that Mass, I invited some of our campus ministry chaplains, FOCUS missionaries, as well as our former director of campus ministry, Father Richard Clancy.

St. Patrick's Day

On Sunday, I was happy to offer the opening remarks and prayer for Boston's annual St. Patrick's Day Breakfast. It was held on Sunday because, here in Boston, St. Patrick's Day isn't just celebrated March 17; it extends for several days before and after. (It's more like a St. Patrick's Season!)

Many of us fondly remember the days when Billy Bulger used to lead the St. Patrick's Day Breakfast, with his great talent for telling jokes and for singing Irish ditties. But the tradition has continued and, this year, the breakfast was hosted by Senator Nick Collins with many politicians and other notable figures in attendance.

It was a very enjoyable event, and I was glad to be able to participate.

Order of Malta

On Wednesday evening, I celebrated Mass for the young people from the Order of Malta, who meet each Wednesday at the cathedral for Mass and then go out into the neighborhood to distribute food and essential items to the homeless.

Father Chris Peschel and Msgr. Kevin O'Leary concelebrated the Mass with me. We were also joined by Bill Grogan, the director of our Planning Office for Urban Affairs, because we were offering the Mass for the repose of the soul of his father, who recently passed away.

I was pleased to be able to celebrate the Mass with them and give them a word of encouragement.

I also spoke to them about our new initiative, The Bethlehem Project, that we are launching to address the problem of homelessness. The initiative takes its name from the fact that, as I often like to point out, the Holy Family itself experienced homelessness in Bethlehem.

We took the first steps in creating this initiative today, with a meeting of our Catholic agencies and organizations who have outreach to the homeless, as well as some interested priests. We plan to conduct a survey, led by Father Kevin Staley-Joyce, among our own Catholic entities, parishes and religious communities that work with the homeless, such as the Order of Malta, the Capuchin Friars, and the Missionaries of Charity.

The goal of the survey will be two-fold: First, to get an overall picture of what is being done to aid the homeless within the Catholic community, and then to receive suggestions for organizations outside the diocese that we can also engage in this effort, such as Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, St. Francis House, and Pine Street Inn.

Based on those findings, we will organize a committee to be co-chaired by Deacon Paul Kline and MC Sullivan. Their task will be to study the issue of homelessness and come up with recommendations on how we can work closely with the other organizations in the community to overcome this problem. Certainly, the pandemic has contributed to the problem of homelessness because, so often, homelessness is tied to issues of mental health, substance abuse, and income insecurity, all of which have been exacerbated in these trying times.

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