Ascension Leads to Hub Post: Bishop Stays on Fast Track

By Michael Lasalandra
Boston Herald
July 2, 2003

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. - Bishop Sean P. O'Malley's father and stepmother aren't surprised their son has been named to take over the top job in the Archdiocese of Boston and have no doubts he will succeed in cleaning up the mess over sexual abuse by priests.

"He's moved rather rapidly since he's been ordained," Theodore O'Malley said. "He'll clean it up. He'll work hard at it. He always does."

Being named archbishop-elect of Boston seems like a natural move for Sean O'Malley, who previously has served as bishop of the dioceses of the Virgin Islands, Fall River, Mass., and Palm Beach, his father said.

"He's known from an early age what he wanted to do," he said. "He knew he wanted to be a priest since he was 10 years old."

Theodore O'Malley, 86, and his wife, Claire, 81, said they are excited but also saddened their son is leaving the Diocese of Palm Beach, where he has been bishop for just over eight months.

"It's an exciting, happy day," said Claire, who has been O'Malley's stepmother for more than 30 years since his natural mother died of multiple sclerosis when O'Malley was just a young man.

"I'm looking forward to going to Boston for the installation," she added.

Bishop O'Malley grew up in Lakewood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. He is one of three siblings. His older brother Theodore, 60, is a retired airline pilot living in Colorado. His younger sister, Mary Alexsovich, lives in Key Biscayne, Fla., where she works at a language school.cw0

The family moved from Ohio to Pennsylvania when O'Malley was a youngster, and it's there he started showing an interest in a religious vocation, Claire O'Malley said. He entered seminary school at age 12 and later attended Catholic University.

O'Malley is an avid reader, enjoying books about history, theology and politics.

"He loves to browse in bookstores," his stepmother said. "He also loves the theater."

Sports, however, holds little interest for him, she said.

O'Malley also enjoys Italian food. "He'll always seek out an Italian restaurant," she said.

He's a conservative dresser, often wearing his robe, his stepmother said. "You won't see him in a Hawaiian shirt."

The new archbishop-elect of Boston is known for reaching out to minorities, having run the Catholic Hispanic Center in Washington, D.C., in the 1970s.

"He speaks six or seven languages fluently," Claire O'Malley said. "Everywhere he goes, people love him."


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