Mr. and Mrs. Theodore J. O’Malley share a light moment at Boston’s Holy Cross Cathedral during Cardinal-designate O’Malley’s installation as archbishop of Boston on July 30, 2003. Mr. O’Malley, the cardinal’s father, died on May 14, 2005 at the age of 89 at his home in Florida. Mrs. Claire (Noonan) O’Malley, the cardinal’s stepmother, was married to “Ted” after the death in 1964 of Cardinal-designate O’Malley’s mother, Mary Reidy O’Malley. Pilot file photo by Peter Smith
BOSTON — Cardinal-designate Seán P. O’Malley’s mother said she was “elated” and “surprised” by the news of her son’s elevation to cardinal. Claire O’Malley, who lives in Deerfield Beach, Fla., received a call from a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston early in the morning on Feb. 22, thinking that he was calling to congratulate her on buying a new car.
“I know this priest fairly well, and I thought he was calling me to just congratulate me or just to tease me a little bit about it. That’s why I was so startled when I found out what it really was about,” she said. “I was certainly surprised, surprised and very happy to get that news. We were certainly hoping he would get to be a cardinal soon, but we didn’t really anticipate it was going to be quite this soon.”
Claire Noonan married Cardinal-designate O’Malley’s father, Theodore “Ted” J. O’Malley, in 1967 after the death of his first wife. Ted O’Malley and Mary Louise Reidy had three children of which Cardinal-designate O’Malley is the youngest. Mary Louise died in 1964 of multiple sclerosis. Ted O’Malley died last year on May 14.
Claire O’Malley said she believes her son was always headed toward becoming a cardinal and does not believe that the position will greatly change him.
“He’s the type of person who would make a very good cardinal,” she said. “I’m sure he’ll dig right in and enjoy himself with this job as well as with being archbishop.”
“I’m sure he’ll continue to be the same humble man he always has been. I’ll try to be as humble too, but it’s a bit more difficult for me perhaps,” she added.
Claire is looking forward with “great anticipation” to traveling to Rome for the consistory where the archbishop will officially become a cardinal on March 24. She was able to travel to Rome when he received his pallium, an ornament of the vestments of certain bishops, from Pope John Paul II on June 29, 2004.
She is also looking forward to visiting her son in Boston sometime soon, she said.