byMark Labbe Pilot Staff
SOMERVILLE -- In a trio of Masses celebrated across the Archdiocese of Boston, March 11 and 12, Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley launched the 2017 Catholic Appeal and took its ongoing theme, "Living our Faith Together," to parishioners.
The theme speaks to the appeal's goal of uniting the faithful of the Archdiocese of Boston in order to advance the work of the Church through its numerous programs and ministries in 288 parishes and 118 schools within the archdiocese.
According to the archdiocese, contributions to the appeal have increased 9 percent and total donors have increased 2 percent over the past three years and in 2016 the number of donors to the appeal exceeded 50,000 for the first time in over a decade.
To help launch this year's appeal, Cardinal O'Malley celebrated Masses at St. Anthony Parish in Cambridge on March 11, and at St. Ann Parish in Somerville and Immaculate Conception Parish in Malden on March 12.
Vicar general Bishop Peter J. Uglietto also helped launch the appeal by celebrating Mass at St. Malachy Parish in Burlington on March 11.
In his homily during the Mass at St. Ann Parish, which was celebrated in English and in Haitian Creole, the cardinal thanked parishioners for their "ongoing support" and generosity, and highlighted some of the ministries that are supported by the Catholic Appeal.
He noted that the vocation work that is supported by the appeal is flourishing, as "all three of our seminaries are filled."
Also recently, he said, "we've established a ground-breaking addiction recovery ministry" headed by Father Joe White "as a reaction to this opiate crisis in our community."
"There, people can receive spiritual direction and guidance, help to overcome their addictions," said the cardinal.
The archdiocese is also "expanding the faith community nursing program, training professionals and volunteers in our parishes to visit the homebound and bring better spiritual and emotional support," he said.
"All of this, and so much more, is possible because of your support and your belief in these important ministries and mission of our Church," he said to those in the nearly packed church.
A reception was held following the Mass, during which Cardinal O'Malley greeted and posed for photos with parishioners.
St. Ann parishioner Maria Bunker said she was "excited" to have the cardinal visit the parish, and said she enjoyed the Mass.
"It was great to have him here," she said.
Ann Kavallo-Hartnett, another parishioner, said it was an honor to have Cardinal O'Malley celebrate Mass at the parish.
"It's an honor for us certainly to have him, but I'm sure it's very mutual," she said.
"It's great because it's a parish that tries to be very open and welcoming to everyone, and I think the cardinal tries to do that as well."