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O’Malley accepts invitation to preach at Sudbury Methodist church

The service recalls historic visit by Cardinal Richard Cushing

Sudbury Methodist Church provided backdrop for Cardinal Richard J. Cushing Jan. 19, 1964.

Dan Sheehan/Globe Staff, file 1964

Sudbury Methodist Church provided backdrop for Cardinal Richard J. Cushing Jan. 19, 1964.

With the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council being marked, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley has accepted an invitation to preach in January at Sudbury United Methodist Church, site of a historic visit by Cardinal Richard Cushing half a century ago.

O’Malley, leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, will preach during an ecumenical service at 4 p.m. Jan. 12, the archdiocese said in a statement Monday.

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On Jan. 19, 1964, Cushing, then the archbishop of Boston, spoke at the Sudbury church, also honoring members of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Sudbury and representatives of other Christian communities. It was one of the first ecumenical visits Cushing made during Vatican II, the major assembly of church leaders that adopted measures to modernize the Catholic Church and enhance relations with other faiths.

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar, the leader of United Methodists in New England, will lead the worship service with O’Malley, the archdiocese said.

O’Malley was invited to preach by the Rev. Richard Erikson, pastor at Our Lady of Fatima Parish, and the Rev. Joel Guillemette, pastor of Sudbury United Methodist Church, the archdiocese said.

O’Malley is “just a powerful preacher,” said Erikson, a former vicar general with the archdiocese. “He has great ecumenical heart and spirit.”

Erikson said he is excited that the congregations will come together in celebrating what they share, rather than focusing on their differences.

“People can count on music, prayers, scripture, and preaching” at the service, he said.

In 1964, the Globe reported that Cushing spoke at the service with “his eyes alternately twinkling as he convulsed his listeners with rippling Irish wit.”

He told stories of how he struggled in school while growing up in South Boston, before beginning the heart of his sermon on the ecumenical spirit.

Sudbury United Methodist Church is at 251 Old Sudbury Road.

Melissa Hanson can be reached at melissa.hanson@globe.com.
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