By Tanya Connor
Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston is scheduled to preach at this year’s St. Francis Xavier Novena at St. John Parish.
So are four Jesuits new to the novena, according to Francis R. Carroll, chairman of the novena committee.
Bishop McManus, Bishop Reilly and other priests and a religious brother familiar to the novena are also on the schedule.
The 93rd annual Novena of Grace in honor of St. Francis Xavier is celebrating the Year of Mercy with the theme “Merciful Like the Father.”
As usual, the novena is being held March 4-12 at St. John’s Church, 44 Temple St., with Masses and Benediction services.
“This is a very rare opportunity for people of all faiths to pray directly with Cardinal Seán O’Malley right here in Worcester during the 4:15 p.m. Mass March 12,” Mr. Carroll said. He said the cardinal is “very, very close to the pope and well liked by … other cardinals.”
Cardinal O’Malley, a Capuchin Franciscan, is a member of the council of cardinals, who assist the pope in governance of the Church. He is also president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
“This is all thanks to Bishop McManus,” Mr. Carroll said of the cardinal coming to the novena. “Bishop McManus has always been a supporter of the Novena of Grace.”
Mr. Carroll said he talked with St. John’s pastor, Father John F. Madden, one of the novena homilists, and met with Bishop McManus, who invited the cardinal. Recently he learned that Cardinal O’Malley would come, he said, adding that the cardinal chose which Mass he would celebrate.
Speaking of getting Jesuit homilists, Mr. Carroll noted that, historically, Jesuits staffed the novena. When they couldn’t continue to do so, Msgr. Francis J. Scollen, then St. John’s pastor and a preacher again this year, got diocesan priests to preach. Now Jesuits, diocesan priests and a Xaverian brother preach.
One of the Jesuits new at the novena this year is Father William Campbell, vice president for mission at the College of the Holy Cross, Mr. Carroll said. He once served in Goa, India, where St. Francis Xavier worked.
Another Jesuit preaching at the novena for the first time is Father Peter Folan, a doctoral candidate at Boston College who once worked for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Mr. Carroll said. He said Father Folan is a young man with the gift of preaching.
The other Jesuits new to the novena are Father Michael Rogers and Father Thomas McMurray. Father Rogers is assistant chaplain at Holy Cross College. Father McMurray serves at Nativity School of Worcester as chaplain, director of admissions and director of mission and identity.
Jesuits returning to the novena are Father Jeremy Zipple, executive editor of America Media, who is stationed in New York, and Father Paul F. Harman, director of special projects in mission at Holy Cross College.
The other homilists are Father Jonathan J. Slavinskas, associate pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Charlton, who grew up at St. John’s, and Xaverian Brother Thomas M. Fahey, retired from St. John’s High School.
Father Madden is to talk about the novena on the Boston Catholic TV show “This is the Day” (when?). The hosts are Father Robert Reed and Jay Fadden, president and general manager, respectively, of The Catholic TV Network, based in Boston. The show airs live on Charter 101, Comcast 268, Verizon 296 and ROKU and is live streamed on the website www.catholictv.com Tuesdays and Fridays at 10:30 a.m. and is rebroadcast several times.
The novena schedule, with confessions after Masses, is as follows: Masses with novena prayers are at 9:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. on weekdays; 4:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. on Sunday. On Saturdays there is also Benediction with novena prayers at 2:15 p.m.
Preachers for the remainder of the novena are: March 7, Xaverian Brother Thomas Fahey; March 8, Jesuit Father Michael Rogers; March 9, Jesuit Father Thomas McMurray; March 10, Father Jonathan J. Slavinskas; March 11, Jesuit Father Paul F. Harman; March 12, Father John F. Madden, 2:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m., and Cardinal Seán O’Malley, 4:15 p.m.