Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  210 / 665 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 210 / 665 Next Page
Page Background

182 • Part II. The Sacraments: The Faith Celebrated


Songs from the Southern Seas

. He also wrote articles for

The Atlantic



Scribner’s Monthly


He used the


as a platform for defending an independent Ireland

and addressing the rights of African Americans and Native Americans.

He compared the oppression that these minorities were suffering to that

which the Irish immigrants were experiencing. These oppressed groups

had a friend in this man. He openly campaigned in the


for political

candidates who were for social reform. He joined several charitable orga-

nizations and was an outstanding proponent of Catholic education. He

received honorary doctorates from Georgetown University, in Washington,

D.C., and Notre Dame University, in South Bend, Indiana.

His unexpected death from a heart attack in 1890 was termed a “pub-

lic calamity” by Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore. “When he died,” observes

historian Mark Schneider, in

Boston Confronts Jim Crow

, “the opportu-

nity slipped away for some kind of progressive association between Irish

Catholics and members of Boston’s small African American community.

The light of ‘green and black’ unity flickered and died.”


Because of his forceful public presence and outstanding Catholic wit-

ness, the wake for O’Reilly was held in St. Mary’s Church, in Charlestown, a

neighborhood in Boston, where mourners by the thousands came to pay

their respects.



says that all who are reborn as children of God in

Baptism “must profess before men the faith they have received from God

through the Church and participate in the apostolic and missionary activ-

ity of the People of God” (CCC, no. 1270). God gave John Boyle O’Reilly

the grace to live out, in a vigorous and inspiring manner, his baptismal

commitment to the cause of Christ, the Church, and God’s Kingdom.

He showed how the laity can bring the Gospel to society and can make

a difference.

13 Cited in Thomas H. O’Connor


Boston Catholics

(Boston: Northeastern University

Press, 1998), 145.