From Cardinal Seán’s blog

Father Mark O’Connell taking the oath of his new office Aug. 30. Pilot photo/Neil McCabe

Tragic deaths

(Last) week we experienced a tragedy here in Boston: two firefighters were killed (August 29) fighting a restaurant fire in the neighborhood of West Roxbury. Upon learning the sad news, I issued this statement on the passing of these two brave public servants:

Today the people of Boston and throughout Massachusetts mourn the loss of two brave firefighters who tragically lost their lives last night. Paul J. Cahill and Warren J. Payne selflessly answered the call to service, placing our public safety above their own needs. At this terribly sad moment we pray for Paul and Warren, their families and friends, the more than 100 firefighters who responded at the fire, and all the men and women of the Boston Fire Department. We pray for those injured last night and ask God to bless them with the strength to recover. The words of the Firefighter’s Prayer remind us of the commitment to public service that Paul and Warren witnessed with their lives: “I want to fulfill my calling, To give the best in me, To guard my friend and neighbor....” God bless them and keep them.

Also, (the next day) I made a visit to the firehouse where the men served to offer my prayers and condolences.

Be assured that we continue to pray for the two fallen firefighters, their loved ones and all those who are touched by this loss.

Honoring Rabbi Leon Klenicki

(On August 26) we had a celebration for Rabbi Leon Klenicki. The Knighthood of St. Gregory, the highest award that can be given to a non-Catholic, was bestowed on him in the context of a prayer service that began with a hymn and then there was a reading from the prophet Micah read by his wife, Myra.

I had known the rabbi back in the ‘70s when I was in Washington, D.C. He actually conducted a Seder meal in Spanish for my entire parish, which was a beautiful celebration to help people to understand the Jewish roots of our Eucharist. We wanted to have him attend the Seder meal in Boston last spring, but Rabbi Klenicki has had some health problems, and he is unable to travel. He is retired and now lives in New Jersey. So Archbishop Celestino Migliore, who is the permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York, offered very graciously to use the offices that they have near the U.N.

At the event, the rabbi spoke very, very beautifully about his relationship with the Church and said that this honor was one of the most significant events in his life. We were all touched to see how much it meant to him.

Rabbi Leon worked nationally, so he was well known here in Boston, in Washington, in New York and in Rome. So some of us went down from Boston and other people from the USCCB in Washington came up to be a part of it.

New Judicial Vicar

On Thursday evening (August 30), we had a Mass in the chapel at St. Theresa of Avila Parish in West Roxbury to install Father Mark O’Connell as the new judicial vicar of the archdiocese (what we used to call the “officialis”).

As judicial vicar, he will have the responsibilities of running the day-to-day operations of the Metropolitan Tribunal, the local Church court which deals with canonical issues. We are very grateful for the outstanding service that Father Mark has given. He is replacing Father Mahoney who did that job so well.

Brother Jim Peterson, who will fill Father O’Connell’s former position, was also there. I am grateful to the New York province of Capuchins for sending us a young brother, who is a both civil and canon lawyer.

Also in this week’s blog:

> Blessing the new altar at Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Plymouth

> Visit to MCI-Cedar Junction prison in Walpole

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