Amidst plans for consistory Cardinal-designate’s ‘top priority’ is archdiocese

BOSTON — Despite the flurry of plans surrounding the consistory, Cardinal-designate Seán P. O’Malley’s schedule has remained unchanged and no arrangements have been made for an archdiocesan-wide trip. Those interested in attending the consistory on March 25 are welcome to travel to Rome and attend all functions, including a reception and Mass of thanksgiving, said Father Brian Bachand, the archbishop’s secretary.

“Those who do go, they’re welcome to go, and he’s glad that there will be people there sharing the day and the event with him,” said Kevin Shea, spokesman for the archdiocese.

Already, there has been an “outpouring of tremendous joy and excitement” and many are planning to attend, Father Bachand said.

“All of the dioceses where he served have people going, from the Virgin Islands, to Palm Beach, to Fall River, to Boston,” he said.

There will also be a Mass of thanksgiving held in Boston after Cardinal-designate O’Malley returns. The details for that Mass have not yet been confirmed, he added.

Cardinal-designate O’Malley was visiting a seminary in Minnesota when the news of his elevation broke in Boston on Feb. 22, Shea said.

“It was a previously scheduled visit. It was not something he could change,” he said.

The cardinal-designate answered media questions at Logan Airport upon arriving back in Boston Feb. 24. He celebrated Mass at Boston College Feb. 25 and a confirmation Mass in Lynnfield the following day. After the confirmation, he visited with all those who were confirmed at a reception, Shea said.

“He intends not to let the appointment change how he does business here at the archdiocese, and he’s going to try to spend as much time as he possibly can here and not let it take him away from his duties here,” he added. “Reflecting his manner, his way and how he leads, he’s very low-key and humble. This joyful announcement will be handled the same way.”

“Even though he’s been named a cardinal and there’s a lot of preparations going on, his top priority is the care of the people of the archdiocese and the needs that are here,” said Father Bachand.

In order to prepare for the consistory, Father Bachand has been making sure that the cardinal’s robes have been ordered, the media has updated information and the plans for the reception, family time and thanksgiving Mass in Rome have been finalized, he said.

Cardinal-designate O’Malley will be in Rome for the consistory from March 18-28. Those traveling from Boston are invited to join him for a joint reception with Cardinal-designate William J. Levada, head of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation, he said.

“Those who complete their own travel and accommodation plans for attending the consistory, and wish to receive information regarding any planned events, including the ceremony itself and the reception, should send a written request to my office no later than Wednesday, March 8, 2006,” wrote Father Arthur M. Coyle, secretary of pastoral services.

The requests need to include name, mailing address, telephone number and the number of people in the party. They should be sent to: Secretary for Pastoral Services, Archdiocese of Boston, 2121 Commonwealth Avenue, Brighton, MA 02135.

Cardinal-designate O’Malley asks for the prayerful support of the people of Boston as he assumes this important role in the life of the Church, Father Coyle said.