The Sisters of St. Joseph held an evening prayer at their motherhouse in Boston on Tuesday (May 18) to mark the Year for Priests. Individual sisters invited priests of the archdiocese. There was a vesper service, and afterwards we had a reception.
Everyone had a wonderful time and it seemed the sisters really enjoyed the priests’ company. There were about 200 priests in attendance. There was standing room only in the chapel.
At the end, they asked me to give some brief remarks. I thanked the sisters and I acknowledged the very important role that religious women have had in the history of our archdiocese and our personal lives as priests.
So often it was the sisters who taught us how to pray and taught us our faith, and planted the seed of vocation in our heart. They were frequently the ones who nourished our spiritual life by their example, their prayer, and their ministry in Catholic education, health care, and so many other areas.
On Wednesday, I celebrated a Mass for the consecrated virgins in our archdiocese. We have about a dozen in all, most of whom were able to be with us that day.
Every year, we have a Mass and lunch with the consecrated virgins of the archdiocese to support and pray with them and be updated on their lives and activities. Sister Marian Batho is my delegate and liaison with the consecrated virgins.
At the Mass, I outlined for the people the history of the consecrated virgins in the Church and their restoration after the Second Vatican Council, as vwell as the important contribution they make as witnesses of the Resurrection and ministers of charity in our midst.
I was also fortunate to be visited that day by Dr. Paul O’Malley, his wife Carolyn, and Dr. Michael Lescault for a brief conversation about Irish history. Dr. O’Malley (no relation) is a history professor at Providence College and Dr. Lescault is a PC alum and theology teacher at Bishop Fenwick High School in Peabody. So, they updated me on things at the college as well.
Dr. O’Malley is an associate of Dr. Richard Grace, who is a very good friend of mine from my Fall River days. Dr. Grace also teaches history at PC.
I was happy to show them my picture of Grace O’Malley’s castle, which was given to me as a gift. One of the big legends in our family is about this pirate queen, Grace O’Malley. It depicts her castle on Clare Island, which is, in reality, little more than a fortified tower. On my coat of arms I have a ship, which actually comes from her coat of arms.
Dr. O’Malley was telling me that he met a priest in Ireland who was a Father O’Malley who commented that the family motto is “Terre Marique Potens,” which in one reading means “powerful on land and sea” but, in a play on words, “potens” sounds very much like the latin word for “drinking,” so “drinking on land and sea.”
I may have mentioned that the historical documents about her indicate that once when she met with Queen Elizabeth I, Elizabeth offered her a title of nobility because that was a way Elizabeth would co-opt these Catholic leaders. Grace turned her down, saying “In Ireland, I’m already a queen. I don’t need your titles.”
The interesting thing is their conversation was in Latin. She probably didn’t speak English. Back in the 1500s English had not penetrated western Ireland. So, the lingua franca in that part of the country was still Latin.
Grace was quite a character. There are many songs, plays and books written about her and her exploits. She was certainly the scourge of the British!