Cardinal O’Malley Statement on Venezeulan Refugees and Immigration Policy

150 150 Charlestown Catholic Collaborative

Immigration policies and practices stand as an abiding moral, legal and political challenge to our Commonwealth and our country. We have delayed far too long in developing an effective response to immigrants, migrants, and refugees at a moment when the movement of men, women, children, and families surpasses any other known example in our history.

Our common humanity is the lens through which our response to immigrants and refugees must be judged. Pope Francis has made the plight of immigrants and refugees a constant theme of his pontificate. The Holy Father’s witness, In word and deed, has been based on understanding immigrants and refugees as pilgrims forced by socio-economic conditions,
human rights abuses, and the climate crisis to leave their homes in search of safety, security and stability for themselves and their families.

This week the humanity and vulnerability which immigrants and refugees share has come home to us in Massachusetts. The Venezuelan refugees have come from a situation of enormous oppression and suffering in their own country.

As is often the case, human tragedy evokes moral goodness. The citizens of Martha’s Vineyard have shown us all how common humanity motivates generosity and effective kindness. I commend young and old for their example and effective response.

The need for a systematic longer-term response is required. I thank Governor Baker for his promise of providing shelter and security for those who have come to us in Massachusetts without either. An effective strategy inevitably requires the leadership and assistance of state and city government. Within that basic framework other organizations can then make their skilled response.

Catholic Charities of Boston has informed me of their readiness to cooperate with civil authorities in welcoming those who come to our Commonwealth in need of assistance. Not only Venezuelans, but Haitians and other Latin Americans are caught up in the crushing emergency of the U.S. southern border. When non-profit agencies can partner with civil authorities, people at risk will find welcome, support and space to organize their lives.

In a globalized world, immigration challenges will continue. In our country a broken immigration system requires immediate reform. From the Dreamers who still seek legal stability in their lives, to those fleeing war in Ukraine, poverty in Latin America and Africa, or crises in the Middle East, the call of our common humanity will be with us for years to come. I pray we will be equal to the challenge.

St. Vincent de Paul – Feast Day
September 27

Saint Vincent de Paul built a network of missions and confraternities for those in need beginning in the 1600s. This foundation for a global charity system now operates in 142 countries. In the United States, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul comes to the aid of 12 million people annually. Vincentians come from all walks of life and work for a noble purpose. In their work to address the needs of the poor, both spiritually and materially, they see the face of Christ.

*** Saint Mary—Saint Catherine of Siena Parish has always been a part of the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s mission. Due to your support, so far this year the St Vincent de Paul Conference of our parish has helped 44 families with their various needs. (rental assistance, beds, tables, lamps, and much more) And due to your generosity SdVP also participated in a towel drive for Harvest on Vine. Thank you for your help and please continue to remember the poor boxes at the back of the Church, or you can mail a donation to the Parish Center at 46 Winthrop St. 100% of all donations go to help those in need! All is much appreciated by those we serve.

Don’t miss the Blessing of the Animals on Sunday,
October 2nd at Noon!

This year, the blessing will take place in the Training Field (not Thompson Square).
Ministers from the various churches will be present to offer prayers and confer a blessing. All pets must be on a leash or in a container,
All pets, stuffed animals, pictures of your animals are welcome for this annual
Charlestown tradition which takes place around the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi
(October 4th), patron saint of animals and the environment and known also for his powerful Prayer of Peace:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury pardon; where there is
doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as
to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Spread the word!!!

Fr. Ronan wrote this article in 2016 on the occasion of the Blessing of the Animals.
Though he is not able to be come with his faithful dog, Lily, we will remember them in
spirit. Please note that the Blessing of the Animals will take place on October 2 at
Noon in the Training Field and NOT Thompson Square. All pets must be leashed.


Winter in Andahuaylas means a deep and dry cold that only diminishes as the brilliant Andean sun rises and blesses the landscape with warmth and light. It was July, and I had been at the parish there for only six weeks. I arrived by bus after two days of travelling from Lima. The air is thin and the altitude is around 8,500 feet above the Pacific coast. The entire reality was beyond anything I had ever known or imagined.

At 7 o’clock, morning Mass began and I arrived each day around 6:30. Slowly the parishioners would come into the darkened church building, shuffling in sandals made from old truck tires, warmly wrapped in ponchos. Some women carried a child or two. Many were elderly, and women always wore their hats with long braided hair flowing behind. They are a beautiful people, these Peruvians, whose ancestors have lived in these regions for countless generations.

Each day in a few benches in front of me, an elderly woman would slowly come down the aisle saying her prayers and sit down. Very shortly after, an old dog would sort of tip-toe down the aisle and go to her. She would immediately shoo the dog away. The dog would obey, sort of, for he would simply step back and lie down under the bench behind her. I watched this game go on for months until one day the woman did not arrive.

Later that day, I heard she was ill and shortly after we celebrated her funeral. A few days passed, and one morning I sat in the half-light of the dawn in the church when I heard the unmistakable sound of the dog’s approach. Wagging his tail, he went to the bench where he always found the old woman. He looked around everywhere and even came over to me. Finally, he stretched out under her bench and with a sigh, waited for her return.

I recall the story vividly and continue to be touched by the beauty and the faithfulness of a dog. We have seen other accounts as well, sometimes of dogs who serve in the military and display astonishing faithfulness toward soldiers in life and death. Yet all of us who are blessed to be accompanied by a pet have our own stories and we know.

On Sunday, October 2, we will celebrate the annual Blessing of the Animals in Charlestown. In the Training Field at Noon, folks from all of the churches and beyond will arrive for a beautiful service as the various ministers offer prayers and blessings on the gathered animals and all present to share the day. Well behaved pets are welcome to the 10:30 Mass that day. All pets must be leashed. After Mass we will go over to the Training Field for the blessing.

Not long ago a friend gifted me with a simple image of a black lab and a prayer that read: “Lord, make me as good a person my dog thinks I am”. Indeed!

Fr. Ronan