O'Malley, who was a keynote speaker, shared the story of counseling an immigrant who had left his wife and six children in their home country and traveled to the United States in order to make money to send home to support his family.
The man had come to O'Malley in desperation after receiving a letter from his wife accusing him of abandoning her and their children. He explained that he didn't understand his wife's letter, because every paycheck he got he immediately put into what he thought was a mailbox to send to his family.
However, O'Malley shared that when he asked the man which mailbox he had used, the man pointed to a blue bin that was in fact a trash can, leaving the cardinal at a loss for words as to how to tell the man where his hard-earned money had really gone.
It was experiences like this that inspired the passion he shares with the Shepherd of the Catholic Church, for those struggling to integrate into new cultures.
O'Malley was later appointed coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands in 1984, and in 1985 he was named diocesan bishop of the Caribbean diocese. Just seven years later, John Paul II appointed him as the sixth bishop of Fall River.
He was then appointed by John Paul II to the Special Assembly for Oceana of the 1998 Synod of Bishops, and served as Apostolic Visitator for several seminaries in Central America and the Caribbean.
In 2002 he was named as Bishop of Palm Beach, Fla., whose previous bishop had resigned six months earlier after admitting he had abused minors. Less than a year later, in July 2003, he was named Archbishop of Boston, just after a broader scope of the Church's sex abuse crisis had been uncovered by media.
Benedict XVI elevated him to the cardinalate in 2006, at the same time naming him as a member of the Vatican Congregations for Clergy and for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
After the immediate aftermath of the clerical abuse crisis in Boston had largely passed, toward the late 2000s, O'Malley began focusing on needs within the diocese. He implemented plans to conserve parish resources, launched a campaign for Catholic schools aimed at strengthening and expanding those that already existed, and stabilized the archdiocese's pension systems for both clergy and lay-employees.
He also placed a strong emphasis on vocations and outreach to youth, which was reflected in his expansion of the archdiocese's use of Internet and social media, through which they encouraged participation in gatherings such as World Youth Days and the annual March for Life in Washington D.C.
In addition to his growing number of responsibilities in the Vatican, Cardinal O'Malley is also an active member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and former chairman of their Committee for Pro-Life Activities.
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Other significant roles he has held include head of the Commission for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, as well as being a member of the USCCB Administrative Board, a member of the committees on Migration and Pro-Life Activities and the subcommittees for the Church in Africa and the Church in Latin America.
The list of committees and commissions O'Malley has served on extends even further, including several from his years as bishop: Missions (he was chairman); Priestly Formation; Hispanic Affairs and Migration.
He has also served on the board of directors for Catholic Relief Services, the Association for the Development of the Catholic University of Portugal and the board of trustees at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.