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October in Hayes Square

An early view of Hayes Square, circa 1950.

At 5:30 in the morning, one of the first sounds is of the #93 bus stopping outside the front door. The corner of Vine and Tufts is the gathering space for the early morning crowd waiting for the bus. Across the street, on the corner of Tufts and O’Reilly Way, the first workers of the BHA arrive about six. From all of the corners of these streets, including Corey and Bunker Hill, flow the people?a steady stream out of their homes and towards the city. Sometimes the voices rise and fall and they are English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Somali, and others.

Continue reading October in Hayes Square

Every life is worth living

October is Respect for Life Month

by Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, O.F.M.Cap.

My dear friends in Christ:

One of the deepest desires of the human heart is to discover our identity. So often, as a society and as individuals, we identify ourselves by what we do. We base our worth on how productive we are at work or at home, and we determine our lives to be more or less good depending on the degree of independence or pleasure. We may even begin to believe that if our lives, or those of others, don’t “measure up” to a certain standard, they are somehow less valuable or less worth living.

Respect Life Month is a fitting time to reflect on the truth of who we are.

Our worth is based not on our skills or levels of productivity. Rather, we discover our worth when we discover our true identity found in the unchangeable, permanent fact that we are created in God’s image and likeness and called to an eternal destiny with him.

Because of this, absolutely nothing can diminish our God-given dignity, and therefore, nothing can diminish the immeasurable worth of our lives. Others may fail to respect that dignity—may even try to undermine it—but in doing so, they only distance themselves from God’s loving embrace. Human dignity is forever.

Whether it lasts for a brief moment or for a hundred years, each of our lives is a good and perfect gift. At every stage and in every circumstance, we are held in existence by God’s love.

An elderly man whose health is quickly deteriorating; an unborn baby girl whose diagnosis indicates she may not live long; a little boy with Down syndrome; a mother facing terminal cancer—each may have great difficulties and need our assistance, but each of their lives is worth living.

When we encounter the suffering of another, let us reach out and embrace them in love, allowing God to work through us. This might mean slowing down and taking the time to listen. It might mean providing respite care or preparing meals for a family facing serious illness. It might mean simply being present and available. And of course, it always means prayer–bringing their needs before the Father and asking him to work in their lives.

Experiencing suffering—or watching another suffer—is one of the hardest human experiences. Fear of the unknown can lead us into the temptation of taking control in ways that offend our dignity and disregard the reverence due to each person.

But we are not alone. Christ experienced suffering more deeply than we can comprehend, and our own suffering can be meaningful when we unite it with his. Especially in the midst of trials, we are invited to hold fast to the hope of the Resurrection. God is with us every step of the way, giving us the grace we need.

In times of suffering, let us have the courage to accept help that others genuinely want to give, and give the help that others need. We were made to love and be loved; we are meant to depend on one another, serving each other in humility and walking together in times of suffering. Our relationships are meant to help us grow in perfect love.

Let us learn to let go of our own standards of perfection and instead learn more deeply how to live according to God’s standards. He does not call us to perfect efficiency or material success; he calls us to self-sacrificial love. He invites us to embrace each life for as long as it is given—our own lives and the lives of those he has placed in our paths. Every life is worth living.

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Comedy night at Knights

Scheduled for Oct. 25 by the Knights of Columbus, 545 Medford St., hosted by comedian Tony V and featuring Steve Sweeney and Improv Asylum. Doors open at 6PM, show at 7PM. Raffles 50/50, food, cash bar. $15/pp or $150 for table of ten. Benefit for Brother Francis Gillen, Brothers of Mercy Saint John of God. Donations can be made to Brothers of Mercy Saint John of God. For more info, call (617) 242-3746, (781) 659-2122, or (617) 242-2221.

School tours

GSS open house this Thursday: Oct. 8, 9-11 a.m. at 20 Winthrop St. ( and (617) 242-8800) Tours of GSS, meet faculty, and learn about curriculum and enrollment procedures. For info, please email

St. John’s Seminary open house and info session: Oct. 15, 7 p.m. at 149 Washington St., Brighton. (Call 617-779-4104 or visit Learn about Theological Institute programs for laity, deacons, and religious.

St. John School open house: Oct. 21, 9 a.m. at 9 Moon St., North End. (617-227-3143 and St. John is a Catholic elementary K3-8th Grade school. Meet our great teachers and Principal, see our Inquiry-Based Science Education in action and discover our top academic programs.

Sunday night

Christian Recovery Meditation Group, 7-8PM, Parish Center

Our Parish is initiating a weekly Christian Recovery Meditation Group for adults in recovery and their loved ones beginning October 4 from 7-8PM. In a welcoming, serene, and respectful atmosphere, we will reflect on a type of sacred reading: scripture, Big Book, story, poem, and then engage in a period of meditation, where we open our hearts for Divine healing. For more information, please contact Sister Nancy Citro, SNDdeN at (617) 242-4664.

The world’s greatest hunger

I recall some years ago being startled by something I read by Dom Helder Camara, the former Archbishop of Racife, Brazil. Dom Helder, a small man with an amazing intellect and passion for justice, was a prophetic figure in Latin America for decades. Once he wrote that “Violence is anything that diminishes the dignity of another person.” The definition has stayed with me for years and I believe it to be very accurate. Think about it?generally we think of violence as something strong, maybe forceful that is carried out against another. Yet the truth is, violence can be and really is many different actions, words and activities, done or not done, that have the effect of diminishing another. I doubt there is a person who does not know from experience what that means.

We live in an increasingly violent world. Yes, that means war in many places including terrorism and uprisings and it means so much more. Violence has many faces: oppression of the poor, deprivation of basic human rights, economic exploitation, sexual exploitation and pornography, addiction to alcohol and drugs, neglect or abuse of the aged and the helpless, and innumerable other acts of inhumanity. Abortion in particular blunts a sense of the sacredness and is a most violent act.

And the greatest hunger of humanity is peace. A peace that is not simply the absence of war?but so much more?the absence of violence in all of its forms. Now this sounds like so much abstract theory?and in a sense it is. And at the same time, it is very close to each and every one of us. Yet the cornerstone of all peace is in the realization of the worth and dignity of every human person and of the sacredness of all human life. Men and women of faith believe that life is a gift from God, the Creator of all. No one person has more value than another and indeed, in our great nation, “All are created equal”.

Yet there is so much that pushes back against this simple tenet about human value and equality: it is inevitably our own self interest devoid of a greater vision of life and God’s plan for us all. So powerful is this self-directed interest that I believe we can only get beyond it by a very conscious choice to ask for God’s Grace to enlighten us about God’s view for all of humankind. The longing for peace, among socio-economic classes, ethnic groups, races, languages, religions, cultures, and all the rest is useless unless it leads us to prayer. That sounds pretty stern?yet I think peace, true and authentic peace, in homes, cities, borders and between nations and all peoples is ultimately a gift.

Rare have been the decades in our country and in the world when we have not been at war in one form or another. The same is true for this weary world. Humankind can only reach the capacity for peace as we reach for God, see the value of all life and recognize the justice needed to bring peace. I think we need to pray.

Our prayer needs to be very intentional and genuine. We need to implore our God for the gift of Peace. There are no armies, social programs, developmental agencies or economic policies that will bring us peace in themselves. The energy for peace will flow from the hearts of all people as we look at one another and see the miracle and beauty that are our lives as God’s creation. Recognizing that, each of us needs to accept that these lives are simply too precious to ever experience and/or receive violence. Arriving there, by God’s Grace, peace is possible.

The month of October is “Respect Life Month” and the Catholic Bishops of our country have urged all to become more informed and active about the critical issues of our time that are a threat to life. In my mind, the starting point is gratitude for my own life and deep respect for all life.

Fr. Ronan

The waters of healing

“I experienced a refreshment of soul I had never thought possible. I only wish I had not allowed so many years to pass before reaching out for help.”

Retreat Dates: Saturday, Oct. 17 and Saturday, Nov. 14, 9:00AM–5:00 PM

Project Rachel is a confidential Catholic outreach ministry offering hope and healing to women and men hurting from past abortions. Project Rachel is named after the Old Testament figure Rachel, who weeps inconsolably for her children “who are no more” until God came to her, offering hope for her future. (Jeremiah 31:15-17)

Location is confidential. Requested donation of $10 to cover lunch cost. Pre-registration is required. Limited to 10 participants.

For info, please call (508) 651-3100 or email

Religious Education in full swing!

Religious Education has begun! Religious Education classes began on Sept. 20, but it is not too late to sign up! If you are interested in signing your child (grade K-8) up for Religious Education, fill out a registration form in the back of Church, in the Parish Center, or online at Classes are generally every Sunday beginning at 9AM and continuing through the 10:30AM Family Mass.

We’re still looking for RelEd Volunteers! Our Religious Education program is still looking for volunteers in a number of capacities. Whether you can make a regular commitment or not, we would love to have you join us!

Young Adult Gathering–September 27: All Young Adults are welcome to gather in the St. Mary Church Hall this Sunday, September 27 after the 6PM Mass. Join us for light refreshments and a wonderful discussion on the Pope’s visit to the United States!

Charlestown fun next Sunday!

Blessing of the Animals

At Thompson Square: Gathering at 9:15 a.m., Blessing at 9:30 a.m.

Next Sunday, we celebrate a Charlestown practice that has become very popular among young and old. Rain or shine, pets of all shapes and types, along with toy pets and pictures, will be brought to Thompson Square for this very special gathering. Joyful noises will reverberate among us all. We call on God to see the beauty of our pets and to hear our prayer of gratitude for them, blessing them with good health, long lives and ongoing vigor on this day and for years to come.

Parish Annual Block Party

At Saint Mary Church: After 10:30 a.m. Family Mass

For many, October heralds in the dawning of new beginnings, such as a new school year or a return to a Fall work schedule. Here in the Parish, we are excited to welcome this new season by offering various events to strengthen our faith and our bonds as a community. Following the 10:30 a.m. Family Mass on October 4, we will gather in Mary’s Peace Garden on Soley Street for a brief prayer for peace and to celebrate as a community. Good food and drinks will be served—and we invite families to bring along a dessert! There will also be music and balloon making for children. We’ll meet you on Soley Street!

Sunday night: a special Recovery Mass

Please join us on Sunday at 6PM as we celebrate Mass for those who are struggling with addiction, those in recovery, and their loved ones. Mass will conclude with an opportunity to inscribe in the Parish Book of Intentions the names of those for whom we want to pray in an ongoing way. Those named are prayed for at every Mass throughout the year.