Rev. Mark Vaillancourt, president and principal at Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers, traveled to Vatican City last Wednesday as two U.S. bishops – Timothy Dolan and Edwin O’Brien — were elevated to cardinal at a Consistory ceremony Saturday at St. Peter’s Basilica. Both new cardinals have strong ties to the Somers private school.
O’Brien was raised in Bedford and is a 1957 graduate from St. Mary’s High School of Katonah, a precursor to Kennedy Catholic High School. Dolan said Mass at the school at the beginning of the 2010-11 year and afterwards agreed to be the guest of honor at this year’s President’s Dinner, May 24 in Cortlandt Manor.
Vaillancourt (right) is shown here with the new Cardinal O’Brien in Vatican City:
Vaillancourt, who has been at Kennedy for four years, said he was thrilled to be going to Rome and Vatican City to see the ceremony first hand. He sent e-mail messages about his trip reflecting on the experience, which were posted on LoHud.com. Here they are compiled as a journal beginning with the most recent dispatch:
MONDAY, Feb. 20, 6:37 p.m. EST
The consistory pilgrimage to the beautiful city of Rome is at a close following the final Mass at St. Paul’s Bascilica, and the rain on the last day dampened the spirits of none. Whether it was a cheer for the Holy Father or a newly created cardinal, everyone seemed to have the same joyous spirit throughout the pilgrimage. And that was what impressed me the most — the enthusiasm of everyone involved. Rome is probably the only place on earth where Christianity’s past and present come together in an almost perfect harmony. And whether on a city street or in a church, joy seems to be the common quality that connects them both. This is what I saw in Rome this week, this was what I myself experienced, and why I am glad that I was a part of it.
MONDAY, 11:30 a.m.
Vaillancourt shown here congratulating and speaking with Dolan.
SUNDAY, 6:52 a.m.
The past day and a half have been busy, filled up with events that make up the heart of the consistory. Yesterday morning was
the ceremony where Archbishops Dolan and O’Brien were created cardinals of the Church of Rome, symbolized by the bestowal of the hat and the ring. A reception at the North American College for the two former rectors of the college followed. This morning was the pontifical Mass of thanksgiving, concelebrated by the new cardinals with Pope Benedict. It was a particular honor for me to accompany Cardinal Dolan into the basilica for Mass, and to assist in the distribution of Holy Communion. The spirits of all who traveled with Cardinal Dolan for the event remain high, due in no small part to the joy radiating from the Cardinal himself.
FRIDAY, 3:04 p.m.
Today was another day in Rome filled with brilliant sunshine, crowned by a beautiful Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. Today’s Mass was the third of four said for the pilgrims in the major bascilicas of Rome. The fourth will be on Monday at St. Paul’s. The enthusiasm continues to remain high among everyone and the Mass in St. Peter’s was a great experience
of the faith. Tomorrow promises to be a busy day, starting with the consistory itself which will elevate Archbishop Dolan to the rank of Cardinal, followed by a reception at the North American College and a private tour of the Sistine Chapel.
FRIDAY, 9:33 a.m.
Cardinal Elect Dolan has scheduled Masses at the four principal basilicas in Rome for the pilgrims accompanying him. Here is the Mass at St. Mary Major on Thursday night.
THURSDAY, 4:20 p.m.
The Mass with Archbishop Dolan at St. Mary Major was truly an uplifting event. Along with 70 priests and five bishops who concelebrated were hundreds of pilgrims who traveled to Rome to be with Cardinal Elect Dolan on this happy occasion. During the Mass, the Archbishop reminded the faithful that they were in the oldest church in Christendom dedicated to Mary the Mother of God. He said that this pilgrimage was all about “Faith, family and friends” and that without a mother there is no family, and that devotion to the Mother of God was the surest way to build up the family of faith. The enthusiasm of Archbishop Dolan has resonated strongly with everyone, and promises to make this a great experience for everyone.
THURSDAY, 6:01 a.m.
Arrived to find Rome sunny at a brisk 32 degrees. Snow in the Eternal City is a curious sight. After a prayful stop in St. Peters, I will concelebrate Mass with Cardinal Designate Dolan in the basilica of St. Mary Major later this afternoon. I have met many clergy and religious from New York already who have come here to share in the celebration with their archbishop. Everyone is looking forward to the consistory events of this weekend.