Friday, September 18, 2009

Final Resting Place for a Cardinal

The Boston Globe, in its Friday edition, reported that the Archdiocese of Boston and Boston College is petitioning a Massachusetts Probate Court for permission to relocate the remains of the late William Cardinal O’Connell, second Archbishop of Boston. He is currently buried in a chapel on a hill on the grounds of St. John’s Seminary, which the Archdiocese sold to Boston College in 2004. They wish to rebury him on the grounds of St. Sebastian School in Needham, MA, which Cardinal O’Connell helped found. Michael Paulson, the Globe’s religion reporter, wrote the story.

Reading this story brought back memories of my days at St. John’s Seminary. You could see Cardinal O’Connell’s tomb up there on the hill, the legend was that he wanted to be buried there so he could keep an eye on the Seminary. Behind the tomb was an open field, which at one time was the cemetery of the Sulpician priests who originally ran the Seminary. When O’Connell took it over, he had the Sulpicians pack up and leave and this included their dead.

Later in my life, when I was a Franciscan novice, the novitiate was located in a small mansion in Brookline, MA, that once was a residence for Cardinal O’Connell. My room was in the former carriage house. O’Connell was reputed to definitely live as a “Prince of the Church.” He represented the Church “Militant,” and wielded power both in the Church and outside the Church with a heavy hand.

Cardinal O’Connell died in 1944, and was succeeded by the third Archbishop of Boston, Richard Cushing, who had very different leadership style, who would pursue ecumenical and interfaith relations, who had an influence on the Second Vatican Council, and guided the Archdiocese during those turbulent times.

Wherever Cardinal O’Connell is finally interred, may he rest in peace.

Wikipedia has a very informative entry on William Cardinal O’Connell.
UPDATE: Michael Paulson of the Boston Globe has reported on his blog that Paul Kirk, who was appointed interim Senator for Massachusetts on Sept. 24th, is related to Cardinal O'Connell. You cannot make this stuff up!

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