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Cushing, Richard

CUSHING, RICHARD

Cardinal, archbishop of Boston; b. Boston, Aug. 24, 1895; d. Boston, Nov. 2, 1970. The son of a blacksmith, he received his elementary education in local public schools and secondary education at Boston College High School. He then attended Boston College for two years before entering St. John's Seminary, Brighton. He was ordained a priest on May 26, 1921.

After about a year in parish work, Cushing was selected for work with the Boston office of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. He was named director of the office in 1928. During his 23 years' association with the Boston office, it became the foremost unit of the Propagation in the United States. He inaugurated a variety of mission organizations which raised funds and supplied information concerning the missions.

In April 1939 Cushing was named domestic prelate, and on June 29 he was consecrated auxiliary to Cardinal William O'Connell of Boston. After the death of O'Connell in 1944, Cushing was appointed archbishop of Boston by Pope Pius XII. On Dec. 15, 1958 he was created a cardinal by Pope John XXIII.

Cushing's immense energy sparked wide programs of youth activity, the construction of secondary schools throughout the Boston archdiocese, the establishment of six hospitals, and the chartering of three colleges. He also erected at Weston, Massachusetts, a national seminary for men in their mature years for the priesthood. Soon after World War II, he inaugurated a "lend-lease" system, whereby clergy of the archdiocese volunteered to work in less fortunate American dioceses, either permanently or on a temporary basis. In 1958 the program was enlarged when the cardinal established the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle for work in Latin America. In five years almost 100 priests from Boston and eight other American dioceses, as well as from England and Ireland, were actively at work in missions in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador.

Another area to which the cardinal gave his special attention is to the care of handicapped children. In 1947 he established the St. Coletta School in Hanover, Massachusetts, for the education of mentally retarded youngsters. A day school of the same name was set up in Braintree, Massachusetts, ten years later. Cushing's devotion to the handicapped prompted him to lead a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France (1957), during which he personally helped care for the 100 young patients he had invited to attend.

Cushing was interested in the promotion of broad religious understanding among Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology he encouraged the establishment of an interdenominational chapel.

His close friendship with the Kennedy family led to his offering the prayer of invocation at the inauguration of President Kennedy. In November 1963 he presided at the funeral rites in St. Mathew's cathedral in Washington, D.C., following the President's assassination.

Cushing, a man of large stature and commanding presence, for the last two decades of his life was ravaged by internal cancer. In addition to this illness, he had suffered from asthma for many years; and he was forced for some periods to give up public appearances for even weeks at a time. He never ceased an active life in his office, however, and received visitors on an almost daily basis. A popular and forceful speaker, he continued to address large gatherings within and without his archdiocese. In September 1970 he resigned from his see.

[f. j. lally]

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