Ancestral Courage

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena
Faith under dark clouds

What is faith? The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us: “Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see.” It is not a function of organic vision. Rather, it is an act of seeing in trust.

Long ago, when I spent a month working at the “house of the dying” in Calcutta, I sought a sure answer to my future. On the first morning I met Mother Teresa after Mass at dawn. She asked, “And what can I do for you?” I asked her to pray for me.
“What do you want me to pray for?” I voiced the request I had borne for thousands of miles: “Pray that I have clarity.” She said no. That was that.

When I asked why, she announced that clarity was the last thing I was clinging to and had to let go of. When I commented that she herself had always seemed to have the clarity I longed for, she laughed: “I have never had clarity; what I’ve always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust.” Thus Mother Teresa became for me a member of that cloud of witnesses to which the Letter to the Hebrews refers: heroes of faith, who had conviction about things unseen.

So it was with Abraham and Sarah, who believed they would give birth to a child in their old age (the very idea was enough to make Sarah laugh out loud) and make “descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sands of the seashore.”

The Letter to the Hebrews celebrates the faith of Abel, dead but still teaching us; of Noah and his improbable ark; of Jacob, at death’s door, finally able to bless Joseph’s sons; of Moses, the child unguarded and abandoned, who would one day lead a nation) against impossible odds, into a territory his feet would never touch.

Faith felled the walls of Jericho and saved the prostitute Rahab. It was faith, the letter says, that discovered new lands, bestowed wondrous strength, and inspired uncommon courage in ordinary men and women. Some were pilloried, flogged, even chained in prison, stoned, beheaded, homeless, dressed in rags, penniless, given nothing but ill-treatment, living in caves and deserts and ravines.” (Heb 11:33) They were all heroes of faith, the letter continues, but they did not live to see what was promised.

How much we have to learn from the great ones who have gone before us, not only the Hebrew saints praised above, but our own as well—those who, after Christ, believed in him despite adversity. We imagine faith to ease confusion, dull the pain, redeem the times, but we miss the testimony of the clouds of witnesses. Our faith does not bring final clarity on this earth. It does not disarm the demons. It does not still the chaos or dull the pain or provide a crutch so we might walk. When all else is unclear, the heart of faith says, “into your hands I commend my spirit.” So it was with all our heroes.

These died in faith. They did not obtain what had been promised but saw and saluted it from afar … searching for a better, a heavenly home. (Heb 11:13)

John Kavanaugh, SJ
Center for Sunday Liturgy

Peace is the ardent yearning of humanity today. Consequently, there is an urgent need,
through dialogue at all levels, to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence. This dialogue must invite all people to reject violence in every form, including violence done to the
environment. —Pope Francis


Have you been worshiping with us, but never officially took the step to become Catholic? Have you been away from the church and have now returned, but want to know more?
Have you been a Catholic all your life, but never celebrated all the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist?)

Have you joined us from a different background and would now like to find out more about the Catholic

If any of the above questions apply to you, we are here to accompany you on your journey of faith. Or, if you know of anyone who could answer YES to any of the above questions, perhaps you could extend an invitation to them!

In recent years, there has been a great increase in the number of adults who are joining the Catholic Church. RCIA is a program designed to help non-Catholics and non-practicing Catholics learn more about the Catholic faith through a series of readings, discussions, and prayer time. This program helps people grow in faith and knowledge of God, and develop a deeper relationship with God as they consider becoming Catholic.

If you are not yet sure whether you want to become Catholic, you are still welcome to participate as you make your decision. There is no obligation to join the Catholic Church and regardless of your decision you are always welcome here at St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish.

Please contact Sr. Nancy Citro, SND deN
at (617) 242 -4664
for more information.

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is August 15
Note: When this Solemnity falls on a Monday or Saturday, the obligation to attend Mass is abrogated

Care of the Earth

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

This article is a reprint of one written by me several years ago. The urgency that is
being described in various news reports these days to save our planet, Mother Earth,
caused me to reprint it this week and to share an experience that brings the need to
support efforts to address climate change in my life, and I hope in yours. – Sr. Nancy

February 12, 2005: I remember that day well, as often happens when tragedy strikes. I was in my office at Mother St. Joseph House (a Sister of Notre Dame Rest Home) when I received the phone call. Details were sketchy but the dreadful and unwelcome news was certain.

I asked the staff to gather the sisters in the Chapel as I had some important news to share. I prayed silently for wisdom and strength. Upon taking my place at the front of the chapel, I
looked at the sisters’ faces and I knew that the most merciful thing to do was to get to the point. And so I told them that our sister, Dorothy Stang, in Brazil, had been killed as she was walking along a road on her way to a meeting in the area of Boa Esperança (Good Hope).

It was said that when the assassins stopped her on the road, they asked her if she had a gun. She responded that her weapon was her Bible and began reading the Beatitudes from Matthew, Chapter 5. Her voice was silenced with six gun shots. Sister Dorothy had received many credible death threats for her work with the poor in their struggle for the protection of the environment, particularly the Amazon rainforest where they learned to farm and extract products for their livelihood without harming the environment. I heard that on her last home visit to Ohio, where she was from, she was encouraged not to return to Brazil because of these threats. She is quoted as saying:

“I don’t want to flee, nor do I want to abandon the battle of these farmers who live without any protection in the forest. They have the sacrosanct right to aspire to a betr life on
land where they can live and work with dignity while respecting the ecosystem.”

It was a very sad time, especially for those of us in the States who knew Dorothy and some of the other sisters in Brazil. It was a very sorrowful time for our sisters in Brazil who had lived and worked with her at one time or another. It was a devastating time for the Brazilian poor who labored with her shoulder to shoulder and considered her to be one with them. Many also had lost loved ones in their struggle to preserve the rainforest from destruction by loggers and ranchers who were illegally cutting down trees, using the land for cattle grazing and threatening the inhabit ants if they did not leave.

The poor of Brazil named Dorothy the “Angel of the Amazon.” On the day of her funeral, the people took turns, carrying her for miles from village to village to her
resting place where they adamantly stated that they were not burying her but planting her.

The struggle in that region of Brazil is ongoing and lives continue to be lost. But
they live in the hope that one day, justice will prevail. Their struggle is not just for their own survival. They know the importance of the rainforest for the world’s climate and for future generations. It is said that the “blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” But too much blood has been and is being shed.

On his visit to Brazil a few years ago, Pope Francis met with some indigenous Brazilians who shared these struggles with him. In one of his many speeches there, the Pope spoke to our duty to protect the indigenous people. He also challenged us to take seriously our responsibilities as stewards of God’s creation to protect the environment—to develop a strong commitment to the Earth. “This creation,” he said, should not “be indiscriminately exploited, but rather made into a garden.”

Our “garden” is polluted and we are in what some call a “defining moment in history.” In the document Today’s Challenge to Action: the Care of the Earth, penned by several Sisters of Notre Dame, we are told that “climate scientists the world over as well as indigenous communities and world spiritual leaders agree that Earth is in crisis. This is a matter of very great importance. The natural balance of our planet which nurtured and protected humanity for thousands of years has been disrupted by human activity. The disruption is so devastating and is occurring so rapidly that scientists are telling us that we must act now to stop the momentum toward a situation in which human civilization as we have known it is no longer possible on Earth.

We are slowly coming to consciousness that we humans hold the fate of the planet, and therefore also our fate, in our own hands. We live in an era of decision. Our choices in the immediate future will direct the evolutionary process. We can continue on the path leading to death and destruction or we can change direction and give birth to a new earth of life-giving relationship.”

None of us can do everything but all of us can do something to reduce our carbon footprint and consumption of resources. Doing so will not cost us our lives or
livelihood as is happening in the Amazon and other parts of our world. If anything, it will only be an inconvenience.

So let’s educate ourselves and our children as how to best save Planet Earth. Support programs and legislation that preserve the environment. Converse with those that are detrimental to it. Recycle, conserve water, reduce the amount of electricity and paper we use, walk, bike, take the T, reduce speeds when driving, car pool, plant trees, etc.

Doing something is better than doing nothing. We can be the generation that helps to turn things around or we can be the generation that contributes to its demise and ultimately jeopardizes the future of our children..

The Power of Prayer

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

In the movie based upon Jane Austen’s classic novel, Sense and Sensibility, there’s a very poignant scene where one of her young heroines, suffering from acute pneumonia, is lying in bed hovering between life and death. A young man, very much in love with her, is pacing back and forth, highly agitated, frustrated by his helplessness to do anything of use, and jumping out of his skin. Unable to contain his agitation any longer, he goes to the girl’s mother and asks what he might do to be helpful. She replies that there’s nothing he can do, the situation is beyond them. Unable to live with that response he says to her: “Give me some task to do, or I shall go mad!”

We’ve all had the feeling at times when in the face of a dire situation we need to do something, but there’s nothing we can do, no magic wand we can wave to make things better. But there is something we can do. I recall an event in my own life several years ago: I was teaching summer school in Belgium when, late one evening, just as I was getting ready for bed, I received an email that two friends of mine, a man and a woman recently engaged, had been involved that day in a fatal car accident. He was killed instantly and she was in serious condition in hospital. I was living by myself in a university dorm, thousands of miles from where this all happened, and thousands of miles from anyone with whom I could share this sorrow. Alone, agitated, panicked, and desperately needing to do something but being absolutely helpless to do anything, I was literally driven to my knees. Not being able to do anything else, I picked up the prayer-book that contains the Office of the Church and prayed, by myself, the Vespers prayer for the dead. When I’d finished, my sorrow hadn’t gone away, my friend was still dead, but my panic had subsided, as had my desperate need to do something (when there was nothing I could do).

My prayer that night gave me some sense that the young man who’d died that day was alright, safe somewhere in a place beyond us, and it also relieved me of the agitation and panicked pressure of needing to do something in the face of agitated helplessness. I’d done the only thing I could do, the thing that’s been done in the face of helplessness and death since the beginning of time; I’d given myself over to prayer and to the rituals of the community and the faith of the community.

It’s these, prayer and ritual, which we have at our disposal at those times when, like the man in Sense and Sensibility, we need to do something or we will go mad. That’s not only true for heavy, sorrowful times when loved ones are sick or dying or killed in accidents and we need to do something but there’s nothing we can do. We also need ritual to help us celebrate happy times properly. What should we do when our own children are getting married? Among other things, we should celebrate the ritual of marriage because no wedding
planner in the world can do for us what the ritual of marriage, especially the church ritual, can do. Weddings, just like funerals, are a prime example of where we need ritual to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Sadly, today, we are a culture that for the most part is tone-deaf ritually. We don’t understand ritual and therefore mostly don’t know what to do when we need to be doing something but we don’t know what to do. That’s a fault, a painful poverty, in our understanding.

The Trappist monks who were martyred in Algeria in 1996 were first visited by extremists who would later kidnap and kill them, on Christmas Eve, just as they were preparing to celebrate Christmas mass. After some initial threats, their eventual murderers left. The monks were badly shaken. They huddled together as a group for a time to digest what had just happened. Then, not knowing what else to do in the face of this threat and their fear, they sang the Christmas mass. In the words of their Abbott: “It’s what we had to do. It’s all we could do! It was the right thing.” He shared too, as did a number of the other monks (in their diaries) that they found this, celebrating the ritual of mass in the face of their fear and panic, something that calmed their fear and brought some steadiness and regularity back into their lives.

There’s a lesson to be learned here, one that can bring steadiness and calm into our lives at those times when we desperately need to do something but there’s nothing to do. Ritual: it’s what we have to do. It’s all we can do! It’s the right thing.

Ron Rolheiser
Center for Sunday Liturgy –

Saints Anne and
Feast Day July 26

The parents of the Virgin Mary, according to tradition derived from certain apocryphal writings. St. Anne is one of the patron saints of Brittany and Canada and of women in labor.
As the grandparents of Jesus, Saints Anne and Joachim are also considered the patron saints of grandparents.

This year Pope Francis is also extending the opportunity for a plenary indulgence “to the faithful who devote adequate time to visit, in person or virtually through the media, their elderly brothers and sisters in need or in difficulty” on July 24. For more information visit the website of

Welcome !

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

This commonly used word that caught my attention on the front page of the Parish Bulletin not only made me feel happy to be in Charlestown (although for just a brief time) but also helped me to appreciate my being here.

In the parable Gospel story last week, the message of “the Good Samaritan” captured the heart of our Christian faith. The victim who was left totally abandoned nearly half dead realized that the loving and totally dedicated sacrifice that was offered by the Samaritan traveler gave him “hope”, while the other two travelers just went away on the other side.

We “all” come to be fed at the Eucharist by Jesus who is the Bread of Life. The love exhibited by the compassion of the Good Samaritan reminds us why we are welcomed here by the Lord Jesus who invites us to receive God’s love in our journey of life.

I am so delighted to be here to experience with you this greatest gift of our faith. Your presence, which reveals your welcome to me, is truly a blessing for me. I pray that my time here will inspire me to fulfill the words of last week’s Good Samaritan Parable that I heard from the Lord—His command to live God’s love in order to achieve eternal life by following the example of The Good Samaritan:

Go and do likewise

~ Fr. Gianni

Welcome to Fr. Vincent Gianni, our new Interim Administrator! We are happy to welcome Fr. Vincent Gianni to our Parish! Fr. Gianni is a senior priest in the Archdiocese of Boston and has been assigned as the Interim Administrator to St. Francis de Sales and St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parishes.

Like Fr. Ron Coyne, Fr. Gianni is on the Emergency Response Team, a group of priests who are assigned to parishes when a pastor is away or one is waiting to be assigned. Fr. Gianni will be guiding our Parishes until the end of summer, at which time a new pastor is expected to be assigned. Please introduce yourself to Fr. Gianni when the opportunity presents itself. You will find him to be a very warm, happy, and kind priest who loves people and has a great sense of humor.

Bienvenido al p. ¡Vincent Gianni, nuestro nuevo administrador interino! Estamos felices de dar la bienvenida al P. Vincent Gianni a nuestra Parroquia! Padre Gianni es un sacerdote sénior en la Arquidiócesis de Boston y ha sido asignado como Administrador Interino de las parroquías de St. Francis de Sales y St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena.

Como el p. Ron Coyne, el Padre. Gianni está en el Equipo de Respuesta a Emergencias, un grupo de sacerdotes que son asignados a las parroquias cuando un párroco está fuera o uno está esperando ser asignado. Padre Gianni guiará nuestras parroquias hasta el final del verano, el momento en que se espera que se asigne un nuevo párroco. Por favor, preséntese al p. Gianni cuando se presente la oportunidad. Encontrará que es un sacerdote muy cálido, alegre y amable que ama a la gente y tiene un gran sentido del humor.

Freedom on the Journey

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

The restless heart murmurs: “If only I knew the will of God. If it were only clear what was wanted of me I would be willing to do it. But things are so complex, and God’s will is difficult to discern.”

Yet Moses said that God’s voice rings loud and bright, signaling our return to him, if only we heed it and give it our allegiance. God’s will is not opaque and distant. If we listen, it sounds within us. “For this command which I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky. No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”

There are times when it all seems clear. The heart moves. We know in our bones what must be done. Like the lawyer, we see the law so simply drawn: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Ah, but the living of it, that is the problem. “You have only to carry it out,” to will the act, to do it. There’s the rub.

Even after hearing the story of the Good Samaritan, we balk and repeat the question, who, indeed, is our neighbor? Surely not the people in our streets. Surely not the poor of the world. Surely not this particular person here and now before me. And there are many reasons not to stop. I may get sued. Others will come to help. I’m in a hurry. The poor wretch should have planned for disaster. Charity begins at home. How well I know the excuses, myself a teacher and priest. It was such as I who passed the broken man on the road to Jericho. And I would have done the same.

An armless and legless beggar rolling in a Calcutta gutter could not move me to act. I had things to do. He might be part of a racket (what cost he paid for such a ruse!). He will only want more. Others will expect as much from me. My help will only perpetuate his helpless condition. My pittance will do nothing in the long run.

So I, the priest and teacher, passed him by, trying not to notice. It was not the first time. Nor was it the last.

My seeming inability to be a neighbor is hard to reconcile with my professed desire to follow Christ. The will of God still draws close and clear, nudging my heart. And yet I seem at a loss as to the doing of it. The peace I seek is beyond my reach, exceeding both my virtue and my will.

And in those sadly familiar moments when I inspect the abyss between the holy desires God has placed deep in my soul and the sorry fruit of them, I can only turn to the words of Paul, realizing once again that I will never find peace or reconciliation on my own.

It pleased God to make absolute fullness reside in him and by means of him to reconcile everything in his person, everything, I say, both on earth and in the heavens, making peace through the blood of the cross.

Do these words, then, absolve me of the struggle? No. But they do remind me that I will never want to approach the throne of Jesus. I—the lawyer—pleading my case. Let the unrest continue, so that, as journeys to Jericho recur in my life, I realize that the only times I will find my neighbor are when I am generous enough to become one. –

John Kavanaugh, SJ

Breaking the Eucharistic Bread

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena
Breaking the Eucharistic Bread

There is parable that I heard some years ago from John Shea about a Cretan peasant. It runs this way: There once lived a peasant in Crete who deeply loved his life. He enjoyed
tilling the soil, feeling the warm sun on his naked back as he worked the fields, and feeling the soil under his feet. He loved the planting, the harvesting, and the very smell of nature.
He loved his wife and his family and his friends, and he enjoyed being with them, eating with them, drinking wine, talking, and making love. And he loved especially Crete, his tiny, beautiful country! The earth, the sky, the sea, it was his! This was his home.

One day he sensed that death was near. What he feared was not what lay beyond, for he knew God’s goodness and had lived a good life. No, he feared leaving Crete, his wife, his children, his friends, his home, and his land. Thus, as he prepared to die, he grasped in his right hand a few grains of soil from his beloved Crete and he told his loved ones to bury him with it. He died, awoke, and found himself at heaven’s gates, the soil still in his hand, and heaven’s gate firmly barred against him. Eventually St. Peter emerged through the gates and spoke to him: “you’ve lived a good life, and we’ve a place for you inside, but you cannot enter unless you drop that handful of soil. You cannot enter as you are now!”

The man was reluctant to drop the soil and protested: “why? Why must I let go of this soil? Indeed, I cannot! What’s inside of those gates, I have no knowledge of. But this soil, I know, … it’s my life, my work, my wife and kids, it’s what I know and love, it’s Crete! Why should I let it go for something I know nothing about?”

Peter answered: “When you get to heaven you will know why. It’s too difficult to explain. I am asking you to trust, trust that God can give you something better than a few grains of soil.” But the man refused. In the end, silent and seemingly defeated, Peter left him, closing the large gates behind. Several minutes later, the gates opened a second time and this time, from them, emerged a young child. She did not try to coax the man into letting go of the soil in his hand. She simply took his hand and, as she did, it opened and the soil of Crete spilled to the ground. She then led him through the gates. A shock awaited him as he entered heaven … there, before him, lay all of Crete!

When Jesus gave us the Eucharist, he left it to us with the words: receive, give thanks, break, and share. With these words, he was referring to a lot more than ritual and rubrics for the reception of the Eucharist at a liturgy. These words contain an entire spirituality in that they lay out the way that we must live all of life. The story helps us to understand what is meant by one of those word, break.

How do we break so as to become a Eucharistic person? Parable and story can touch deep affective levels in us and move us in rationally inexplicable ways, and so a story of this kind shouldn’t be given too much explanation. It should be more an object for meditation than explanation. Nonetheless, a tiny application might be helpful.

When Jesus links the idea of “breaking” to the Eucharist, the rending and breaking down that he is talking about has to do with narcissism, individualism, pride, self-serving ambition, and all the other things that prevent us from letting go of ourselves so as to truly be with others. Buddhism suggests that everything that is wrong the world can be explained in one image, that of the group photo. Whenever anyone looks at a group photo, he or she always first looks how he or she turned out and, only afterwards, considers whether or not it is a good picture of the group. Breaking the Eucharistic bread has a whole lot to do with looking first at how the group turned out.

St. Augustine, in his Eucharistic homilies, was fond of telling people: “if you receive this well, you are what you receive. … For the loaf that contains Christ is made up of many individual kernels of grain, but these kernels must, to become the loaf containing Christ, first be ground up and then baked together by fire.”

(Sermo 227, In Die Paschae IV) – Ron Rolheiser
Center for Sunday Liturgy hĴps://

Happy 4th of July


150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

As I leave Charlestown after a few short weeks, I’d like to leave you with some thoughts to ponder which are not my own but I found them profound.

“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out God hates the same people you do” Anne Lamott

“The outdoors isn’t a place given to boys and girls by their parents; nature is a place you’re borrowing from your kids” Chris Bohjalian

“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide” John Adams

“As it is with trees, our roots shape our horizons” Kenneth Woodward

“My point once again is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them
symbolically and we are now dumb enough to take them literally.” John Dominic Crossen

“The question is not whether the Church can convert the world, but whether God can convert the Church” Paul Stagg (American Baptist Church)

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed unless it is faced“ James Baldwin

“What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter if you can’t afford to buy a hamburger?” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If you ask a naïve child “Do you believe in Santa Claus? He or she will say yes. If you ask a bright child the same question, he or she will say no. However, if you ask yet an even brighter child that question, he or she will reply yes …., though now for a different reason.”
“Those who are cowards will ask, ‘Is it safe?’ Those who are political will ask, ‘Is it expedient?’ Those who are vain will ask, ‘Is it popular?’ But those who have a conscience will ask, ‘Is it right?” Paul Washington

And finally, “Dear Ann Landers: I am a 16 year old girl who is a nervous wreck from gettng yelled at. All I hear from morning ‘till night is “stop smoking, get off the phone, hang up your clothes, do your homework, clean up your room. How can I get them off my case? signed Sick of Parents
Dear Sick: “Stop smoking, get off the phone, hang up your clothes, do your homework and clean up your room”

Thank you, Charlestown for your hospitality and affirmation. I speak about you in superlatives. I have only the best of memories from my time among you (1990 – 1996). I’ve been in my glory these past 4 weeks renewing acquaintances and reliving the best of times.

Thank you for everything. I am a better person and priest because I know you.

You are loved!
Fr. Coyne


150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

On behalf of myself and the priests and staffs at St. Francis and St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parishes, I want to wish all of the wonderful families in our community a Happy Father’s Day. I was privileged to grow up in a home with both parents and this day was always sacred to us and was highlighted with a meal at the dining room table prepared by my Italian mother. My father always sat in the same seat at the head of the table. There was no question about that. Life was a lot simpler in those days. It was all about God and country and we never questioned either one. Anyone in authority in the Church and the Government was always right because they were in authority. We were in our own little world and we liked it there. I am grateful to have grown up at that time and have the best of memories. The world has evolved and changed greatly over the years. Nothing is simple anymore. We have access to so much more information and no one has all the answers including those in authority. As a result, we have come to realize that the truth for someone may not be seen as the truth for someone else. This has caused major upheavals in society but that is what education and knowledge will do. I’m at peace with that. I respect the past but I don’t live there. As an example, we see how family life has evolved. Concepts of family that we never imagined are very much a reality today and contribute positively in the lives of our children. We are blessed with many happily married husbands and wives raising their children together. We have couples with children who may be divorced and share custody, many have adopted children into their family, there are gay couples raising children, single parents, biracial couples, foster parents, children being raised by their grandparents. I respect everyone’s story. Our cultures, religious affiliations, sexual orientations, gender preferences and value systems may differ but it is our humanity that we share. I am so grateful that my concept of God has expanded throughout my life. There is room for all of us and we can all embrace our world. May we spend this Father’s Day surrounded by those we love.

I also realize there are families who will not be celebrating due to painful experiences and tragedy in their lives. Some of these situations may heal with time, others will not. Life can be so challenging for some.

Meanwhile, I want you to know what a joy it is to be back in Charlestown. I have met so many wonderful people from my past and renewed many friendships. Everywhere I go I run into people from the years I served at St. Catherine’s (1990-1996). We shared great times together and it was the Church that made that possible. In many cases, we also shared sad experiences when the Church was very present to offer us hope. For many of us, our relationship with the Church fluctuates and has its peaks and valleys.

What a privilege it is for any priest to be invited into our parishioners lives to share their joys and the sorrows. I thank you once again for making me feel so “at home” in this wonderful neighborhood.

Enjoy life!
Fr. Coyne

PS. The receptionist walks into the doctor’s office and says “there is a patient in the waiting room who thinks he is invisible, what should I tell him?”
The doctor says, “Just tell him I can’t see him today.”


150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena
Fr. Ron Coyne

What an honor it is for me to return to the neighborhood of Charlestown and to serve for a month at St. Francis and St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parishes. For those residents who have lived in this community for awhile, you may remember me as the “young priest” who was at St. Catherine’s from 1990 – 1996. They were six wonderful years in my life and in the Catholic Church in Charlestown. I had the privilege of serving in this community alongside the legendary Fr. Dan Mahoney at St. Francis. At that time Fr. Jim Canniff was at St. Mary. The three parishes were all vibrant and thriving in those years. The Catholic faith has a long history in this neighborhood and you have been served by wonderful priests and faith filled women religious who taught at all three parish schools. I grew up in Roslindale and West Roxbury (Holy Name Parish) and was very involved in my parish as a child and teenager. I know how vital those early years are to families and to the Church. The pandemic has had and will have a lasting effect on if and how many people celebrate their faith. I respect people’s choices on whether they return to Church or not. But every pastor will tell you how much we miss those families who are no longer physically with us.

I am on the Emergency Response Team (ERT) for the Archdiocese of Boston. After serving five years as the pastor of three parishes in Hyde Park (Most Precious Blood, St. Pius X and St. Anne) I decided in 2019 to volunteer for the ERT. I now am available to fill in temporarily in various parishes for weeks or months whenever necessary. Most priests live alone so if that priest (usually the pastor) gets sick, goes on a sabbatical, dies suddenly or retires, I am available to replace them until the Archdiocese finds a successor – e.g. – since I left Hyde Park, I have served in Marblehead, Millis, Medway, Hudson and most recently for 6 months in Wilmington. I have met many wonderful people and it has brought me to towns I may never have seen otherwise. When I leave Charlestown on July 1, I will be going to St Cecelia in the Back Bay for three months. It’s a good life!

Fr. Dan Mahoney and Fr. Jim Ronan have been welcoming and hospitable to me and I wish them the best as they enter another phase in their lives. They both deserve our accolades, applause and a standing ovation. I realize they have been able to minister so effectively because of the staff in both parishes who are dedicated to the Church and the people they serve. I will be blessed to work with them. I also know both parishes are served by priests who assist weekdays and weekends with Masses and other liturgies. I believe they will continue to serve you. I will be living at St. Catherine’s Rectory while I’m here.

Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Boston is searching for a new pastor for your parishes. I’m sure they hope to have that person(s) in place for July 1 but if not they may have to have another interim priest. I realize how difficult it is for parishes to experience change and how challenging the unknown can be. But your greatest asset is your faith and the history of that faith in the parishes of Charlestown. I pray that the priest(s) selected will realize how blessed he (they) will be to be among you.

May God continue to bless you and those you love with peace, happiness and good health.
Enjoy life!

Fr. Coyne

Thanks be to God

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

As I look back over these many years as a priest and before, I realize that my life has been more of a response to rather than a planning for.

Before I was a priest, my brother, Ed, and I would often meet up in the city for lunch or dinner. I recall on one occasion, he asked me what my life plan was. Where did I see myself in 5 and 10 years? I came up with an answer that was nothing more than spontaneous. Somehow, by God’s generous Grace, I have found my purpose and joy in being, especially as I have sought to respond to the call and prompting of God’s loving Spirit.

For me, the consequence of living in this way has been an overarching sense of gratitude to God for all I have received. I have found God’s Grace is ever-present, even in the most troubling of times.

Today, concluding these 18 years as pastor in this vibrant faith community and 40 years as a priest, I am amazed by all that has happened and overwhelmed by gratitude to God and to so many who have been part of this journey with me. The support and love of my dear family while I served in places near and far away has meant so much to me.

The parish pastoral team along with councils and committees and so many others have been a joy, literally and figuratively! Parishioners here, now, and so many who have moved on and passed away have enriched my life in countless ways.

So it is, this is the day that, once again, I thank God and all of you. I am blessed beyond measure – spoiled you might say! I carry all of you and the experiences of these years with me as I leave. And in return, for all I have received, I can only offer a promise of my continued prayers for this beautiful parish community.

Fr. Jim Ronan