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From Cardinal Seán's blog

On Tuesday, March 24, Cardinal O'Malley met with Dr. Paul Farmer, a renowned expert in global health, at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross to speak about the current pandemic. Pilot photo/CardinalSeansBlog.org

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Recently, Father Paul Soper and Father Eric Cadin suggested that I might prepare a Virtual Lenten Retreat to present on CatholicTV as well as online. I'm very grateful to Ann Gennaro of our Secretariat of Evangelization and Discipleship, who has been very helpful throughout this process.

So, in recent days, I have been recording the different daily installments of the retreat here at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, and they have aired each night this week. Originally, the series was intended to run for the five weeknights of the week, but we have added a sixth night, on the Eucharist, that will air tomorrow.

I am amazed at the response I have received from near and far. My sister, my cousin, and my aunt are watching it together, and I have had people contact me from Switzerland, Portugal, and from throughout the United States saying that they are watching.

So, I'm very humbled and amazed at how many people we are able to reach in this time. I understand television viewing has greatly increased because people are confined to their homes, but it is a wonderful opportunity for us to do something together to make this Lent truly a retreat. Of course, Lent is supposed to be a baptismal retreat for all of us, and our confinement to our homes is truly a desert experience for those who are used to being constantly out and about. However, hopefully, this time of confinement will allow us to be more reflective, more prayerful and more aware of our task to deepen our own conversion in this Lenten season.

Dr. Paul Farmer

On Tuesday, I met with Dr. Paul Farmer, a renowned expert in global health who has been very involved in developing nations, such as Haiti and Rwanda, and he was very much involved in the fight against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. He was in town for meetings, and he stopped by the cathedral to speak to me about the current pandemic.

I learned a great deal about what's happening with the efforts to produce treatments, as well as the importance of the measures being taken to prevent the spread of the virus through measures such as social distancing.

We are very grateful for all the work that Dr. Farmer has done, and continues to do, on behalf of many people who are among the most underserved in the world.

Working from home

Like many of you, in these days I have been working from home and have been able to continue with many of our regularly scheduled meetings -- of course, by teleconference. This week we had our meetings of the archdiocesan cabinet, the personnel committee, our auxiliary bishops and the bishops of the Boston Province. Obviously, in many of these meetings, the conversation was around our response to the crisis that has been caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

I have also had an opportunity to speak by telephone with virtually all of our Vicars Forane to hear how things are going in the different vicariates. I'm amazed at how much creativity our priests are showing in the ways that they are serving our people and remaining connected to their congregations. One priest had called over 100 families to check up on them; another delivered food to the shut-ins of the parish; others have conducted Masses and other services over the Internet. These are just some of the many things our priests are doing to help our people realize that we are praying for them and are connected to them in this very difficult time.

Our Catholic Schools Office has been working diligently, as well, to prepare our 3,000 Catholic school teachers to be able to conduct distance-learning while classes are suspended.

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