‘Pilgrimage of Repentance and Hope’ concludes

Cardinal O’Malley joins the procession from St. John’s Seminary to St. Columbkille Parish in Brighton that was part of the closing evening of the novena to the Holy Spirit, a “Pilgrimage of Repentance and Hope.” Pilot photo/George Martell, RCAB

BRIGHTON — The novena to the Holy Spirit, a “Pilgrimage of Repentance and Hope” organized by the archdiocese to atone for the sin of sexual abuse of minors by clergy came to a close June 3.

On each of the nine days from Ascension Thursday to the eve of Pentecost, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley held a Mass or prayer vigil at different parishes throughout the archdiocese that have been affected by clergy sexual abuse.

Though originally scheduled to begin outside the main doors of the archdiocese’s Brighton chancery building, persistent rain forced the evening’s opening liturgy indoors to Peterson Chapel at St. John’s Seminary. The liturgy was followed by a procession and vigil Mass at nearby St. Columbkille Parish.

Speaking to those gathered at Peterson Chapel, Father John Connolly, special assistant to the archbishop and rector of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, said he deplored the actions of some of his brother priests, “whose actions, whose sins, whose crimes hurt our children and our young people.”

After describing the Christ-given mission for priests to shepherd their flocks, Father Connolly recognized that “sadly and shamefully” some of those priests turned their back to their call to serve.

“Instead of being good shepherds they became wolves among innocent sheep, he said.

“We must recognize and acknowledge that the body of Christ has been sexually abused by some of the shepherds.”

Father Connolly called those survivors of clergy abuse who have come forward “authentic heroes of the faith,” even if they have turned away from that faith as a consequence of abuse.

Taking the lectern, abuse survivor Bernie McDaid explained that, like most other Irish children in his Salem neighborhood, he grew up with close ties to his parish and parochial school.

McDaid described himself as an “A” student and class president — until the day Father Joseph Birmingham called him into the sacristy of St. James in Salem and unbuttoned his shirt.

“And then he proceeded further, but I will spare you of all the grim details,” he said.

According to McDaid, whenever he recounts his story, listeners usually have a dual reaction.

“They look at me as a leper, and they will get mad at the priests and say ‘How could they?’”

He said the survivor community needs not sorrow, but understanding.

Even after all the media coverage, the profound consequences of abuse are not understood by the larger community, McDaid said.

He went on to explain how the abuse he suffered between the ages of 11 and 13 set his life on a downward spiral.

“I lost the faith in this institution you are all in,” he said, looking toward Cardinal O’Malley.

Later, McDaid said, he was expelled from high school for taking drugs — the drugs he became addicted to at age 15.

He has been in therapy for the last 15 years.

Yet, he said, it was those closest to him — particularly his mother, sister and wife — who suffered most.

“I put my family through literal hell.”

Immediately after his testimony, Cardinal O’Malley and the other clergy present lay prostrate on the stone chapel floor for 10 minutes as a cantor led the assembly in singing a litany of repentance.

Following the litany, Father Connolly explained the significance of the novena and some of the changes that had been made to the evening’s program because of the weather.

He said the procession to St. Columbkille’s had been scheduled to begin at the steps of the chancery because it was, “in that place where people were abused, in that place where decisions were made or not made, where abuse was allowed to continue or go unchecked.”

The procession was also to have proceeded through the seminary grounds, making a stop at the courtyard, the place were many of the priests who sexually abused minors received their formation.

Instead, the crowd of about 200 processed through the rain directly to St. Columbkille to celebrate the vigil Mass of Pentecost.

During his homily, Cardinal O’Malley said he had informed Pope Benedict of the novena and the Holy Father sent his prayers and had asked the cardinal to impart his special apostolic blessing on those participating.

In his closing remarks, Cardinal O’Malley thanked those survivors of sexual abuse who shared their experiences throughout the novena celebrations.

“You have helped us to understand in some small way the evil of sexual abuse of children, to galvanize us in our commitment to make ours a safe Church and to make ours a safe world.”

Debbie Vitulli came all the way from Methuen to be part of the novena.

“I grew up in St. Monica’s when Father [Ronald H.] Paquin and some others were stationed there. I have several friends who were personally affected by this.”

She said that forgiveness was necessary.

“There is no other way we can move forward,” she said.

“We are all sinners and if we accept to be forgiven for things we have done wrong, we need to do the same for those who have.”

Father James Flavin, pastor of St. Edith Stein Parish in Brockton, told The Pilot that he feels it was important to show solidarity with survivors.

“I am ashamed of the actions of some of my brother priests,” he said.

He said there is still much to do for people to understand the gravity of the problem of sexual abuse in society.

The number of child abuse cases he sees in Brockton on a monthly basis is staggering, he said.

“We do not like to talk about it. We just sweep it under the rug and hope it doesn’t show its ugly head.”


Cardinal beatifies 22-year-old Romanian as 'martyr to chastity'

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- A 22-year-old Romanian peasant has taken a step closer to sainthood as a "martyr to chastity," six decades after she was murdered ...

Maryland attorney general will review church records on child sex abuse

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- In a Sept. 24 letter to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop William E. Lori informed priests and deacons that the ...

People helping people is what attracted actor to 'God Friended Me'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Television audiences may recall seeing actor Joe Morton as Eli Rowan Pope, the father of professional Washington fixer Olivia Pope, ...

Pa. bishops support creating fund to compensate survivors of sex abuse

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- The bishops of Pennsylvania's eight Roman Catholic dioceses are supporting creation of an independent fund to compensate survivors ...

CRS sells fair trade coffee, supporting Mexican farmers and land

Baltimore, Md., Sep 24, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Catholic Relief Services is now offering fair trade coffee beans that will benefit local farming communities ...

The Jesuit who survived the KGB

Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 24, 2018 CNA.- When Pope Francis visited a former KGB building in Vilnius, Lithuania Sept. 23, Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius ...

Next step toward artificial reproduction violates human fundamentals, ethicist warns

Washington D.C., Sep 25, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Artificial human reproduction appears to be on the horizon with Japanese scientists&rsquo; claim to ...

Update: Scandals create outrage, but there is time for conversion, pope says

TALLINN, Estonia (CNS) -- In what is probably the least religious country in Europe, Pope Francis said he is surprised by how many people hold firm to ...

Catholic leaders oppose administration's plan to limit green cards

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic leaders are speaking out against a Trump administration proposed rule announced Sept. 22 that would deny green cards to legal ...

Head of Georgetown Prep urges renewed commitment to being 'men for others'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a letter to the school community, the president of an all-boys Jesuit high school in suburban Washington emphasized the schools' ...

Today is 'hour of the laity,' Archbishop Gomez tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Hispanic Catholic leaders are living an important moment in the history of the Catholic church in the U.S. and are called to ...

Stay close to the suffering, forgive one another, pope tells Latvians

AGLONA, Latvia (CNS) -- What would Mary do? was the question Pope Francis, in effect, asked Latvian Catholics gathered at their nation's popular Marian ...

Joy, hope contagious for Encuentro participants as they discern priorities

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Joy, hope, energy and a spirit of continued collaboration are contagious among the participants of the Fifth National Encuentro, ...

Update: Pope in Lithuania: Don't let anti-Semitism, hatred resurge

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Outside the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Pope Francis ended a day of paying homage to victims of totalitarianism and ...

God is patient, even with failures, pope tells young Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Meeting young Lithuanians in Vilnius, Pope Francis said he wanted a relaxed conversation, like they were sitting in a pub ...

Update: Vatican signs provisional agreement with China on naming bishops

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Pope ...

Find strength in tolerance, solidarity, pope tells Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- In Lithuania, a nation that experienced invasions, atrocities and persecution, Pope Francis began his visit with a plea to ...

Ospino: Encuentro reflects 'energy, maturity' of a church 'here to stay'

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- The thousands of Hispanic Catholic ministry leaders gathered in Texas for the Fifth National Encuentro shared views on the maturity ...

N.J. cardinal won't attend synod, asks to remain home at 'time of crisis'

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he ...

Detroit Archdiocese welcomes investigation into Michigan dioceses

DETROIT (CNS) -- Michigan's attorney general has opened an investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by clergy in all of Michigan's seven Catholic ...

Catholics believe in God but 'don't believe in us,' Miami archbishop says

MIAMI (CNS) -- The crisis the Catholic Church is facing is not "a crisis of faith" or "mainly about a crisis of sexual abuse by clergy," but is "a crisis ...

Update: Disney animator says grounding in Catholic schools led to success

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the blockbuster ...

#WhyImCatholic movement aims to share hope at difficult time for church

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Catholic Extension has launched a new social media campaign called #WhyImCatholic to offer "hope and unity" for Catholics by inviting ...

Continue to be an evangelizing church, nuncio tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Archbishop Christophe Pierre encouraged Hispanic Catholic ...

Encuentro opens with procession, papal message, prayers for abuse victims

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- A video message from Pope Francis and a procession of Encuentro crosses representing all of the participating episcopal regions ...

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...