Friends !

150 150 Charlestown Catholic Community

Fr. Coyne


As I write these notes I am anticipating the mid-term elections on Tuesday, November 8 and hoping that the majority of American will cast their votes. That statement in itself is lowering the bar because a majority is one over half (meaning just over 50%). I will be amazed if that many people vote. How sad is that! When I was growing up our family was a priority; it was where we received our value system and where we set our priorities. Next to our families it was the country and the Church that taught us right from wrong. The United States and the Catholic Church reinforced what we were taught at home. It was just understood and expected that we celebrated our faith each week at Mass. It was also understood that when we turned 18 we would begin a lifelong experience of voting in local and national elections. I’d also say that our school system and education strongly encouraged each of us to belong to a faith tradition and take our responsibility and privilege of participating in elections seriously.

WE always voted on election day and I Loved the experiences of being part of the process for which our ancestors fought. That freedom is a gift and being surrounded by so many others as we stood in line to vote was a proud moment for me. In 2008 and 2016 the line actually stretched the entire length of Holy Name schoolyard.(It reminded me of standing in line for the Saturday night dances in high school). I have to admit the past 2 elections I voted by mail. I never thought I would vote early or by mail but I am grateful for the opportunity. The pace of life today demands that we expand the avenues for Americans to participate in this right and this responsibility. So I continue today to be a Catholic American and an American Catholic and very proud of both affiliations.

So for me it was truly the Church and country that reinforced my value system and continues to do so.

I wonder what has replaced those two institutions for our young people today. It is obvious that the great majority of our children, youth and young adults are no longer celebrating their faith at Church on a regular basis and I respect that choice although it is a huge loss to the Church and I believe a loss to our families. It is also obvious that the majority of our young people are not participating in the voting process and I respect that choice although it is also a huge loss to the country and I believe a loss to the younger generations. I realize the world is changing rapidly and I am a product of my upbringing which I believe worked out very well for me.

So, my question again is what has replaced the Church and the country as strong support systems for parents who are attempting to raise their children in today’s environment? Where do our children, teenagers and young adults turn to when they are seeking out how to make decisions in their lives? As individuals we cannot make decisions in a vacuum. We need to be reminded that it’s a big world out there and each of us has responsibilities in this world. The Church and the country always reminded me that it’s not about me, it about us.

Celebrating my faith each week and participating in the elections process doesn’t mean I agree with my Church or my country, all the time. If does mean I value the presence of each of them in my life enough to challenge them to be all I believe they are meant to be. Obviously these are priorities for me and I can’t be a part of the solution if I divorce myself from either institution.

Enjoy life!

Fr. Coyne



Fr. Coyne

On All Saints Day, we decided to have a little fun during the homily. I shared with the Congregation the following Patron Saints. There are so many others but I was aware of the time constraint. If you look into some of the history of these men and woman (only 1 included) it makes some sense that they’d be identified with these areas of concern. Some of what we read about the saints is legend.

Matthew – Accountants
Genesius – Actors
Gabriel – Broadcasters
Martha – Cooks
Francis of Assisi – Ecologists
Peter – Fisherman
Joseph of Arimathea – Funeral Directors
Valentine – Lovers
Jerome -Librarians
David – Poets
Jean Vianney – Priests
Vitus – Dancers
Christopher – Travelers
Michael – Police
Florian – Firefighters

Thank you Veterans

Veterans Day Prayer

Dear Lord, today we honor our veterans, worthy men and women who gave their best when they were called upon to serve and protect their country. We pray that you will bless them, Lord, for their unselfish service in the continual struggle to preserve our freedoms, our safety, and our country’s heritage, for all of us. Bless them abundantly for the hardships they faced, for the sacrifices they made for their many different contributions to America’s victories over tyranny and oppression. We respect them, we thank them, we honor them, we are proud of them, and we pray that you will watch over these special people and bless them with peace and happiness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


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Last weekend I paid tribute to the 60th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council (1962 – 65). This monumental meeting of the Bishops throughout the world was called by Pope John XXIII and had its opening session in October of 1962. The documents and teachings of this Council sent shockwaves throughout the Catholic Church.

Prior to the “Ecumenical” Council (because it also invited other Christian religions to participate) Catholic Church theology (understanding of God) and ecclesiology (understanding of the Church) was based primarily on the teachings of Vatican I (1870) and the Council of Trent (1545). As I mentioned in my homily, the 2nd Vatican Council truly made it possible for me to reconcile my humanity with my priesthood.

I spoke about 10 areas of the teachings of Vatican II that I believe, transformed the direction of the Catholic Church in a positive way. Some people requested that I make these available in the bulletin. I am privileged to do so. The 2nd Vatican Council is primarily responsible for these insights which changed my life and my ministry.

  1. Mass (the Eucharist) is now seen as a community celebration, not a private devotion. You are as important to this celebration as I am.
  2. God loves me unconditionally – I cannot earn or lose that love.
  3. No religion is favored by God over others. The Catholic Church and God are
    not equal. As an example, the Council forced us to face our antisemitism.
  4. The Bible is meant to be taken seriously but not always literally: we are encouraged to study the history and background of Scripture.
  5. It is our Baptism that gives us rights, responsibilities and privileges in the
    Church, not being ordained a priest.
  6. It is no longer the Church and world (we are not enemies) It is the Church IN
    the world. The Church is a human institution and we must adopt with the
  7. The Sacraments were not always celebrated the way they are today. They evolve
    as we better understand their purpose
  8. Every Catholic person must form his/her own conscience through prayer, listening to the Church and learning from their own life experience. We then may
    disagree with the institution and still be a good Catholic.
  9. The Catholic Church must challenge each of us to take responsibility for those who are marginalized, ostracized and have the least opportunities among us. The poor are a priority.
  10. The history of the Church is meant to be studied and we have to face our history honestly. We have not always been a positive presence in the world and may
    need to apologize and make reparations.

    Because I embrace these beliefs I am a better human being, Christian and priest.

    Imagine the challenges and opportunities that would face a Third Vatican Council.

    Enjoy life!

    Fr. Ron Coyne


For all of you who knew her, Lily, Fr. Ronan’s beautiful, black English Labrador Retriever, loyal sidekick
and friend, had her own special ministry in our Parish.
She brought great joy, laughter, and comfort to all and was very popular at Masses, Baptisms and, when invited by the family, at funerals. We all missed her when she began her retirement in the spring and wished her a long and happy retirement. Now we take leave of
this beautiful creature of God who will always be remembered by those who benefitted from her peaceful presence.

October 31 “All
Hallows Eve”

Halloween or Hallowe’en, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a celebration observed in many countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of All hallow-tide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints, martyrs, and all the faithful departed.

In the annual rhythm of the Church’s life of prayer and worship, the Solemnity of All Saints (Sunday, November 1) actually begins with Evening Prayer I in the Liturgy of the Hours on Saturday, October 31. We rejoice in those who celebrate the heavenly banquet with Jesus Christ and we recall the Church’s rich tradition of faith-filled stewards.
Keep “All Hallows Eve” from becoming “hollow” by celebrating the Christian connection to Halloween and the positive messages that stem from the holiday for the benefit of ourselves and the spiritual formation of our children. Celebrate Monday, October 31, as a Catholic heritage of faith.

ICSC bulletin 2021

Friends !

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Fr. Coyne

I was rummaging through my room recently and I came across this letter I sent to Pope Francis in 2015 as a response to his request for input into the 2015 Synod on the Family. I thought you might be interested so would like to share this with you. I figure if I feel empowered to express my views with the Pope, then I am also privileged to share them with our parishioners in Charlestown. I feel the same way 7 years later.

Dear Pope Francis:
I hope life is treating you well. I am a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston and thank you for giving me permission to be human and for reminding us that it is the gospel against which we measure our lives.

I am responding to your inquiry regarding the Synod on the Family 2015. These are my feelings and beliefs in no particular order;

Our belief in the sacrament of marriage is based on “what God has joined together we much not separate” We are under the impression that if a couple is married in the Church that therefore they have been joined by God. We now know that God is beyond organized religion and that no one has captured God. With that in mind, there may be many couples married civilly whom God has joined together, while there could be couples married in the eyes of the church whom God has not joined. The present view limits God and alienates many Catholics from the church and the Eucharist.

According the Second Vatican Council there are two purposes of Marriage: to foster the love between the couple, and the procreation of children. Sometimes the fear of conceiving children can negatively affect the love that a couple need to express intimately and sexually. Our view of birth control must be relaxed.

I couldn’t agree with you more “the Eucharist is food for the journey, not a reward for being good.” Coming to the Eucharistic table can be as healing as celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation. The good done by going to communion far outweighs any good done by not going to communion. Our world today sees all creation as a gift of God. In fact, creation reveals God’s presence to humanity. There are many ways of protecting our environment for future generations. The present birth rate can be a serious threat to our planet.

No one enters into a marriage apart from their culture, history, background and life experience. Even though a person appears to be mature when they pronounce their marriage vows, we now know many are products or victims of alcoholism, addiction, abuse and domestic violence, which surely affects their ability to freely make that commitment.

We need to return to the understanding of vocation to the priesthood as a call from the community based on the gifts, skills and spiritual health of a member of a certain community. They are chosen because they are gifted. Today, we rely on an individual deciding to study for the priesthood and then assume they and they alone possess the necessary giftedness, e.g. because someone is ordained we believe he has the gift of preaching or because he becomes a priest we place him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation as counselor and/or spiritual director.

If the institutional church and the gospel are at odds, it is the life of Christ that must be the measure against which we make our decisions. Sometimes it may even be the difference between words attributed to Christ and his life story that forces us to choose. The guiding principle is that Christ healed those no one would heal, touched those no-one would touch, forgave those no one would forgive and loved those no one would love. That is the gospel message unabridged.

We have progressed greatly in our understanding of sexuality over the years. We now realize that sexual orientation is not a choice but determined by genetics. It is therefore inhumane and unchristian to demand lifelong sexual abstinence from those who are homosexual or lesbian or transgender while encouraging those who are heterosexual to pursue and intimate sexual relationship in marriage.

I applaud you and those surrounding you for your determination to let the Catholic people in the world know that it is their baptism that makes them citizens of the Church.

May God continue to challenge us to be all we are meant to be as individuals and as Church.

Enjoy life!

Ron Coyne

Be Grateful for Doubt

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The fact is that all the great spiritual models of the ages before us found themselves, at one point or another, plunged into doubt, into darkness, into the certainty of uncertainty: Augustine, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, John the Baptist, Thomas, Peter, one after another of them all wondered, and wavered, and believed beyond

Surely, then, doubt is something to be grateful for, something about which to sing an alleluia. Unlike answers that presume the static nature of God and the spiritual life, doubt stretches us beyond ourselves to the guidance of a God whose face is not always in books.

Doubt is what leaves us open to truth, wherever it is, however difficult it may be to accept. But most of all, doubt requires us to reconfirm everything we’ve ever been made to believe is unassailable. Without doubt, life would simply be a series of packaged assumptions, none of them tested, none of them sure, and all of them belonging not to us, but to someone else whose truth we have made our own.

The problem with accepting truth as it comes to us rather than truth as we divine it for ourselves is that it’s not worth dying for—and we don’t. It becomes a patina of ideas inside of which we live our lives without passion, without care. This kind of faith happens around us but not in us—we go through the motions. The first crack in the edifice and we’re gone.
The first chink in the wall of the castle keep and we’re off to less demanding fields.

Doubt, on the other hand, is the mother of conviction. Once we have pursued our doubts to the dust, we forge a stronger, not a weaker, belief system. These truths are true, we know, because they are now true for us rather than simply for someone else. To suppress doubt, then, to discourage thinking, to try to stop a person from questioning the unquestionable is simply to make them more and more susceptible to the cynical, more unaccepting of naive belief.

It is doubt that is the beginning of real faith.

—from Uncommon Gratitude by Joan Chittister and Rowan Williams
(Liturgical Press)
Joan Chittister

To say I am thrilled to return to Charlestown is an understatement. I was honored to be there for the month of June and then went to the Back Bay for 3 months which had been arranged prior to my coming to Charlestown.

And now I am happy to say that I will be with you until the last week in November.

I am grateful to Fr. Gianni for his time in the Parishes and feel very hopeful and enthusiastic about Fr. John Sheridan’s new ministry as the Pastor of St. Francis de Sales and St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish beginning November 27th.

Enjoy life,
Fr. Coyne

Below is the prayer Sr. Nancy offered at the Faith and Blue Prayer Service at the Charlestown Peace Park last Friday, October 7th.

Creator of the Universe, giver of every good gift, we thank you and praise you as we come before you to celebrate the bonds that have been forged between faith and blue and our community. We stand together on this hallowed ground as sisters and brothers of different faiths united by what we hold in common rather than divided by our differences.

We are mindful, dear God, that this blessed, sacred corner of Charlestown, is dedicated to the life of Robert McGrath, a member of our community, whose life was taken over 30 years ago as a result of violence. And so, dear God, as you know, this holy place was born as a result of violence and pain, sorrow and struggle, gratitude and love. And by your grace, and the work of the Charlestown Coalition under the direction of Sarah Coughlin, The Turn it Around Youth, City of Boston funds, benefactors and other people of good will, it was resurrected with inspiration, dedication, tenacity, and hope.

And now we lift up before you, O God, Robert McGrath and so many others who have come home to you from our Town through violence and substance use, and other illnesses and who are remembered by us this day, and remembered everyday by those who love them deeply here on earth as they are in heaven.

And we pause in silent prayer to honor their memory.

Our Peace Park, dear God, brings solace to so many and is a symbol of your light that shines through each person who longs and works for unity, peace, and the well-being of one another especially the less fortunate among us. We ask your blessings on all those who brought the vision of this place to fruition We pray for our women and men in blue who get up each day and strive to fulfill their mission to protect and serve us all, and we pray for their families. We are grateful to them, O God, for the sacrifices they make to fulfill their noble mission, for their collaboration with our faith communities and other Charlestown organizations, and for their presence and solidarity with Charlestown residents. Strengthen them and guide them, and in your tender compassion, keep them safe from harm and bless them abundantly.

We pray for each of us gathered here, government officials and all of us who live and work in Charlestown. Keep us strong and united in your love – teach us to not only hear one another, but to really listen to one another, with acceptance and respect and to find common ground on which bridges of understanding, cooperation, and collaboration may be built.

We pray that you guide government officials, law enforcement locally and throughout our nation, and community members, and all who are involved in creating meaningful
solutions that will help end violence on our streets and will ensure safety in our homes and schools. Bless them dear God and their important work.

We pray that you heal divisions within our country and within and among nations in our world. Convert the hearts of those who seek to sew division and violence and grant us the peace for which we work and long for.

We pray for those in our community who continue to suffer from addiction, homelessness, poverty, hunger, and physical and mental illness. Bless us with the wisdom and resources
needed to address their needs and recognize their inherent dignity.

Lastly, dear God, we pray the prayer of St. Francis. May it take root and flourish within our lives:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that we may not so
much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Why Suffering?

150 150 Charlestown Catholic Community

He was an old man of indeterminate years. found him in a beautiful room overlooking the harbor on a sunny Sunday afternoon. He looked terrible: broken shoulder, hip, scars and bruises and obviously in pain. When I spoke his name, one eye opened and Andrew (not his real name) focused on this priest standing by his bedside. I pulled over a chair and asked how he was doing – and began to listen.

It is a story not unfamiliar to many: the pains, aches and illnesses of aging combined with the accidents that accompany those of unsteady gait and balance. And Andrew’s question was simple, sort of: Why does God create us and then with suffering and pain, take our life away?

The meaning of suffering – who of us has not pondered that question? Yet the question becomes especially poignant when one is suffering and/or accompanying a loved one through a crisis. In an article published in the New York Times some time ago, Pico Iyer reflected on the value of suffering:

Wise men in every tradition tell us that suffering brings clarity, illumination; for the Buddha, suffering is the first rule of life, and insofar as some of it arises from our own wrongheadedness — our cherishing of self — we have the cure for it within. Thus in certain cases, suffering may be an effect, as well as a cause, of taking ourselves too seriously. I once met a Zen-trained painter in Japan, in his 90s, who told me that suffering is a privilege, it moves us toward thinking about essential things and shakes us out of shortsighted complacency; when he was a boy, he said, it was believed you should pay for suffering, it proves such a hidden blessing.

Of course, in the Irish Catholic tradition (and in other traditions) suffering is thought to be payback from God for one’s wrongdoing. Yet we all realize such thinking is senseless in the face of suffering of the innocent, for example a child and the victims of natural disasters, wars and so much more.

As Andrew and I continued our conversation, he explained his belief in God. Yet he was puzzled that God had allowed so much suffering to befall him. I asked if he believed God heard his prayers. He said he believed God hears all prayers, everyone’s, but does not necessarily answer them as one wishes. As Andrew spoke more about his life, he laced his comments with humor and wise observations. I came to see a man whose vision, wisdom and faith were extraordinary. I wondered if the suffering that Andrew was enduring was actually a classroom of sorts where he was learning and living at a depth and faith that were preparing him for the life that God has prepared for him.

After celebrating the Sacrament of the Sick and praying with Andrew, he seemed in a very different place then when I first met him. As I rose to prepare to leave, he told me a joke, you know one of those about the rabbi and the priest … I left his room chuckling and wondering about suffering, my own and that of countless others into whose lives I have been invited.

I conclude with the belief that all of life is a gift and never without meaning – ever. God is always at work in and around every one of us, in hard times and in good times. Our invitation to turn to this loving God, even in the darkness of suffering, loss and pain, is that call to go deeper, to the core of our being, and there to seek and find the Hope that is our Creator God.

Fr. Ronan – (reprint)

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” —Viktor

Religious Education starts this week !

Our program will remain a hybrid program, like last year. Each class (with the exception of Youth Group – Grades 5-8) will meet once a month in person and once a month on Zoom.
– Confirmation classes (grades 9 & 10) will meet once a month IN PERSON at the 6pm Mass, and one Sunday a month at 6pm on Zoom.
If you have any questions, please email, or call the Parish Center

And …
The Parish Center is excited to welcome a new puppy:. Katy Fleming, our Religious Education Director, and her family welcomed home their new puppy, Chelsea, this past week.

Thanksgiving Organ Concert
November 20, 2022
St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish

All are welcome to join our parish family for a concert on our very
own Harris and Woodbury organ, featuring:

Rosalind Mohnsen

ROSALIND MOHNSEN has performed in such venues as Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine, Woolsey Hall at Yale University, The National Shrine in Washington, D.C., Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston, and St. Thomas Church in New York City. She has performed for Boston’s First Night, A.G.O. Chapters in Richmond, Lincoln and Pasadena, twenty-three national conventions of the Organ Historical Society, the 2014 A.G.O. National Convention in Boston, and in Riga, Latvia and Stockholm, Sweden. She has been a pianist in the BSO Symphony Café. She served as Interim Organist and Director at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston and was the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Service Award from the Organ Historical Society.

A native of Nebraska, she received the Bachelor of Music in Education degree in piano from the University of Nebraska and the Master of Music degree and Performer’s Certificate in organ from Indiana University. Her organ studies were with Myron J. Roberts, Conrad Morgan, Robert Rayfield, and Jean Langlais. She is Director of Music and Organist at
Immaculate Conception Church of Malden/Medford, MassachuseĴs and was formerly on the faculty of Westmar College, LeMars, Iowa. Rosalind has also been a huge supporter of our parish music ministry through the years.

Cardinal O’Malley Statement on Venezeulan Refugees and Immigration Policy

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Immigration policies and practices stand as an abiding moral, legal and political challenge to our Commonwealth and our country. We have delayed far too long in developing an effective response to immigrants, migrants, and refugees at a moment when the movement of men, women, children, and families surpasses any other known example in our history.

Our common humanity is the lens through which our response to immigrants and refugees must be judged. Pope Francis has made the plight of immigrants and refugees a constant theme of his pontificate. The Holy Father’s witness, In word and deed, has been based on understanding immigrants and refugees as pilgrims forced by socio-economic conditions,
human rights abuses, and the climate crisis to leave their homes in search of safety, security and stability for themselves and their families.

This week the humanity and vulnerability which immigrants and refugees share has come home to us in Massachusetts. The Venezuelan refugees have come from a situation of enormous oppression and suffering in their own country.

As is often the case, human tragedy evokes moral goodness. The citizens of Martha’s Vineyard have shown us all how common humanity motivates generosity and effective kindness. I commend young and old for their example and effective response.

The need for a systematic longer-term response is required. I thank Governor Baker for his promise of providing shelter and security for those who have come to us in Massachusetts without either. An effective strategy inevitably requires the leadership and assistance of state and city government. Within that basic framework other organizations can then make their skilled response.

Catholic Charities of Boston has informed me of their readiness to cooperate with civil authorities in welcoming those who come to our Commonwealth in need of assistance. Not only Venezuelans, but Haitians and other Latin Americans are caught up in the crushing emergency of the U.S. southern border. When non-profit agencies can partner with civil authorities, people at risk will find welcome, support and space to organize their lives.

In a globalized world, immigration challenges will continue. In our country a broken immigration system requires immediate reform. From the Dreamers who still seek legal stability in their lives, to those fleeing war in Ukraine, poverty in Latin America and Africa, or crises in the Middle East, the call of our common humanity will be with us for years to come. I pray we will be equal to the challenge.

St. Vincent de Paul – Feast Day
September 27

Saint Vincent de Paul built a network of missions and confraternities for those in need beginning in the 1600s. This foundation for a global charity system now operates in 142 countries. In the United States, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul comes to the aid of 12 million people annually. Vincentians come from all walks of life and work for a noble purpose. In their work to address the needs of the poor, both spiritually and materially, they see the face of Christ.

*** Saint Mary—Saint Catherine of Siena Parish has always been a part of the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s mission. Due to your support, so far this year the St Vincent de Paul Conference of our parish has helped 44 families with their various needs. (rental assistance, beds, tables, lamps, and much more) And due to your generosity SdVP also participated in a towel drive for Harvest on Vine. Thank you for your help and please continue to remember the poor boxes at the back of the Church, or you can mail a donation to the Parish Center at 46 Winthrop St. 100% of all donations go to help those in need! All is much appreciated by those we serve.

Don’t miss the Blessing of the Animals on Sunday,
October 2nd at Noon!

This year, the blessing will take place in the Training Field (not Thompson Square).
Ministers from the various churches will be present to offer prayers and confer a blessing. All pets must be on a leash or in a container,
All pets, stuffed animals, pictures of your animals are welcome for this annual
Charlestown tradition which takes place around the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi
(October 4th), patron saint of animals and the environment and known also for his powerful Prayer of Peace:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury pardon; where there is
doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as
to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Spread the word!!!

Fr. Ronan wrote this article in 2016 on the occasion of the Blessing of the Animals.
Though he is not able to be come with his faithful dog, Lily, we will remember them in
spirit. Please note that the Blessing of the Animals will take place on October 2 at
Noon in the Training Field and NOT Thompson Square. All pets must be leashed.


Winter in Andahuaylas means a deep and dry cold that only diminishes as the brilliant Andean sun rises and blesses the landscape with warmth and light. It was July, and I had been at the parish there for only six weeks. I arrived by bus after two days of travelling from Lima. The air is thin and the altitude is around 8,500 feet above the Pacific coast. The entire reality was beyond anything I had ever known or imagined.

At 7 o’clock, morning Mass began and I arrived each day around 6:30. Slowly the parishioners would come into the darkened church building, shuffling in sandals made from old truck tires, warmly wrapped in ponchos. Some women carried a child or two. Many were elderly, and women always wore their hats with long braided hair flowing behind. They are a beautiful people, these Peruvians, whose ancestors have lived in these regions for countless generations.

Each day in a few benches in front of me, an elderly woman would slowly come down the aisle saying her prayers and sit down. Very shortly after, an old dog would sort of tip-toe down the aisle and go to her. She would immediately shoo the dog away. The dog would obey, sort of, for he would simply step back and lie down under the bench behind her. I watched this game go on for months until one day the woman did not arrive.

Later that day, I heard she was ill and shortly after we celebrated her funeral. A few days passed, and one morning I sat in the half-light of the dawn in the church when I heard the unmistakable sound of the dog’s approach. Wagging his tail, he went to the bench where he always found the old woman. He looked around everywhere and even came over to me. Finally, he stretched out under her bench and with a sigh, waited for her return.

I recall the story vividly and continue to be touched by the beauty and the faithfulness of a dog. We have seen other accounts as well, sometimes of dogs who serve in the military and display astonishing faithfulness toward soldiers in life and death. Yet all of us who are blessed to be accompanied by a pet have our own stories and we know.

On Sunday, October 2, we will celebrate the annual Blessing of the Animals in Charlestown. In the Training Field at Noon, folks from all of the churches and beyond will arrive for a beautiful service as the various ministers offer prayers and blessings on the gathered animals and all present to share the day. Well behaved pets are welcome to the 10:30 Mass that day. All pets must be leashed. After Mass we will go over to the Training Field for the blessing.

Not long ago a friend gifted me with a simple image of a black lab and a prayer that read: “Lord, make me as good a person my dog thinks I am”. Indeed!

Fr. Ronan

Parabel of the Unjust Steward

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In order to appreciate fully the import of today’s gospel text, which gives us the parable of the Unjust Steward, we must remember that parables, unlike allegories, focus on only one element in the comparison. Thus, the lesson to be drawn from this parable is that the followers of Jesus must also act prudently in regard to their own future prospects.

It should also be noted that this steward, though lacking in good management, was probably not as unjust as at first appears. In all likelihood, he was simply subtracting his own substantial commission from the debt owed to his master. This would be similar to the prudence of a small-market baseball team that trades away a good player because he is eligible for free agency and will be lost anyway!

The sayings that follow the parable sharpen its focus by making it clear that what Jesus has in mind is the attitude that his followers must adopt in regard to their earthly possessions, whether they be wealth or personal talents. If one allows these human and temporal things to monopolize one’s attention, there is grave danger that the eternal treasure will be lost.

Life Implications
A distinctive feature of Luke’s gospel is the deep concern he shows for the dangerous situation of wealthy or talented individuals who have become so engrossed in managing their riches that they are fatally distracted from the real purpose of human life. In this situation, they may very well be so distracted that they will discover, only when it is too late, that they have wasted the only ultimately significant opportunity in their lives. This same lesson is found in the situation of a strikingly beautiful person who has never needed to develop a mature and pleasing personality. This is what is meant when we speak of the “curse” of great talent.

This wisdom is also dramatically portrayed in Luke’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus (16:19-31). It is important to notice that this rich man is never presented as one who has acquired his wealth through crime or some other immoral strategy. He ends up in hell simply because he is so preoccupied in managing his wealth that he does not notice that a poor man is starving on his doorstep!

This sensitivity of Luke concerning the danger of earthy possessions derives in part from his observation of the effect of wealth on the inhabitants of his hometown of Antioch. This was a prosperous trading center where the extremes of wealth and poverty were clearly evident. Luke warns, therefore, that possessions can have, in a sense, a drugging effect on their owners. One sees this clearly in Luke’s story of the rich farmer who is worrying about building bigger barns for his bountiful harvest whereas God is calling him to face final judgment (12:16-20).

Luke does not condemn wealth as such. What he does condemn is a preoccupation or obsession with riches that precludes one’s need to place the awareness of others and of their needs at the top of one’s list of responsibilities. When the gospel says that we must choose between God and mammon, it is asking us to declare where we finally put our trust. Wealth and talents can serve God’s purposes, but they must never replace God as the center of our attention in life.

Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B.

O God of Mercy and Comfort,

You are the One we can turn to for help in
moments of weakness and times of need.
Please be with those who struggle each day to
be free of any substances that can harm them.
Psalm 107:20 says that you send out your
Word and heal your people. So then, please
send your healing Word to all who are in
need. In the name of Jesus,
drive out all sickness and affliction from their bodies.

Dear God, please turn their weakness into strength,
their suffering into compassion,
their sorrow into joy, and their pain into
comfort for others. May they trust in your
goodness and hope in your faithfulness, even
in the middle of their struggles. Fill them
with patience and joy in your presence as they
breathe in your healing life.

Please restore them to wholeness.
Remove all fear and doubt from their hearts
by the power of your Holy Spirit, and
may you, Lord, be glorified in their lives.
As you heal and renew them, Lord, may
they bless and praise you.
All of this, in the name of Jesus Christ.

Our New Pastor – Fr. John Sheridan

150 150 Charlestown Catholic Community

On Friday, September 2nd, we received the good news that Cardinal Seán O’Malley has appointed Fr. John Sheridan as Pastor of St. Francis de Sales and St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parishes.

A native of Newton, he was ordained in 1990 and has served in a variety of assignments in the Archdiocese including Pastor of St. James Parish, Salem; the Cranberry Catholic Collaborative in Middleboro, Lakeville, and Rochester; and currently of Blessed Mother of the Morning Star Collaborative in Revere, Chelsea, and Everett.

Because of commitments Fr. Sheridan has in his current Parish, he will begin his work among our Parish and St. Francis de Sales Parish on the first weekend of Advent, November 26/27. Fr. Sheridan is from a big family and loves sports, music, technology, and movies.

Fr. Sheridan has done a number of Masses on Catholic TV. If you would like to hear one of his homilies, you can see him on or or tune in this September 24th for the 9:30 am Mass.

Let us offer prayers of thanksgiving to God and let us pray for Fr. John Sheridan, that he may be granted all of the graces he needs as he begins the process of completing his work at his current Parish and transitions to our Parishes in Charlestown.

TO STRUGGLE By Fr. Ronan (reprint with updates)

Once I heard it said that if it were possible for one to bundle into a package all of one’s problems and struggles and place it in a bucket and everyone else did the same, and then each could select the bundle one preferred to carry, one would choose one’s own. Of course, I question how valid such a theory might be. Rather it seems that, objectively speaking at least, some struggles are more difficult to carry than others.

The privilege of being a parish priest invites me into numerous realities of people’s lives. For example, I just hung up the phone with a man who explained he has been diagnosed with ALS. Earlier in the day, I spoke with a family whose precious son lives with autism. Walking across town on my way to Mass, a parishioner stopped and asked if I would bless the three little children he had with him who had been in an abusive home and now live with him and his wife.

Not all struggles appear huge and often one’s problems and suffering are not obvious. At other times, our challenges are very public and the pain is, too. We work at convincing ourselves that we should be able to manage things on our own. Perhaps we feel too ashamed and fear being judged negatively so much so that we cannot imagine the benefits that can come from sharing our situations with others. And so we deny ourselves the opportunity to receive support from those who are ready and willing to listen and walk with us.

Suffering is a part of life and no life seems to escape it. Depending on one’s support systems, which often times include reliance on God’s grace and a faith community to support them, there are individuals and families who are gifted with the courage and perseverance to forge ahead in the midst of life’s struggles, pains and losses. As a priest, I have witnessed that faith, prayer, and community are always invaluable resources for us, but especially when we are in pain. The recognition that “I am not alone in my struggle” is crucial.

Our Charlestown community is equipped with professionals who are eager and competent to help, but also there are persons in our community ready to be a source of friendship and support. Truth is, no one is truly independent and no one can make it on his or her own – we all need one another. And even more so, we need God, Who is waiting for us and Who knows us so well and loves us so deeply and unconditionally. Perhaps this realization is one of the gifts that come from suffering.

The month of September is designated as National Recovery month. Every year the Charlestown Coalition collaborates with other groups in our town to offer various events which increase awareness of substance use, prevention, and recovery, and to remember those who, sadly, have lost their lives as a result of substance use. Our Parish often remembers these intentions in our Prayers of the Faithful at our Masses.

On Sunday evening, September 18th, we will gather at the 6PM Mass, as we have done in Septembers past, to especially pray for those in recovery, those who struggle with substance use, and for their families. The Paschal Candle will be lit in remembrance of those who have lost their lives to this dreadful disease. After Mass, you may inscribe the names of those you want included in our Parish Book of Intentions and they will be lifted up in prayer at every Mass. All are warmly welcomed to join us in this time of prayer and always.

Change is Tough

150 150 Charlestown Catholic Community

We thought you might enjoy a
reprint of an article by Fr. Ronan

I was twenty years old and finishing my second year of college when my parents decided it was time to sell the family home in Dorchester. Some of my older siblings had already moved on and I was the youngest. The neighborhood had changed a lot and my Dad planned to semi-retire and make a move to a smaller home in the suburbs. I spent a lot of that summer cleaning, moving and packing, and remembering. What a great old house that was and how hard it was to say goodbye – to change and to move on.

My story and memories are no different then those of so many of you as well, I imagine. We have all gone through changes in life – it is simply part of the journey. And if there has not been too much changing in your life – just wait a minute – something will come along real soon! Changes in the Church are sort of like changes in our homes and families – they are so close and personal to us. Of course we all come to realize that change is inevitable in all but the most fundamental things.

For example, our faith that sustains us daily; the love we share in families and friendships and the hope that is ours for tomorrow and into the future. These are all constants and we depend upon them each day. Our faith, hope and love may grow, be challenged and be taken for granted – but they are cornerstones of our life. It seems so much else changes. People, relationships, experiences, work, institutions, products, places and on and on – all come and go, leaving us to cope with an ever changing landscape.

And how do we cope as men and women of Faith with the changes in our lives and world? Some see changes as conspiracy and are threatened by change. Others see changes as exciting and inevitable and positive. Some are indifferent, others passionate about holding on to whatever.

For me, 6 Percival Street is gone – forever. All that was important in my life that happened at 6 Percival Street is a part of me and my brothers and sisters and our lives. Saying goodbye was hard as it often is. But, saying goodbye usually means we are saying hello as well. And if my history is any indication of my journey, and maybe yours, God has always been active in both the goodbyes and hellos – sustaining, helping guiding. In fact, it is in exactly the act of letting go of what is comfortable and familiar that we are invited to trust in the God who knows us so well and loves us so much. Sustained by this trust, we can go forward with hope.

Fr. Ronan

Prayer for Labor Day

On this weekend, when we rest from our usual labors, loving God, we pray for all
those who shoulder the tasks of human labor—
in the marketplace, in factories and offices, in the professions, and
in family living.

We thank you, Lord, for the gift and opportunity of work;
may our efforts always be pure of heart, for the good of others and
the glory of your name.

We lift up to you all who long for just employment and
those who work to defend the rights and needs of workers everywhere.
May those of us who are now retired always remember
that we still make a valuable contribution to our Church and our
world by our prayers and deeds of charity.

May our working and our resting all give praise to you
until the day we share together in eternal rest with all our departed
in your Kingdom as you live and reign Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

September 8 – The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Church has celebrated Mary’s birth since at least the sixth century. A September birth was chosen because the Eastern
Church begins its Church year with September. The September 8 date helped determine the date for the feast of the Immaculate
Conception on December 8. Scripture does not give an account of Mary’s birth. However, the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James fills in the gap.
According to this account, Anna and Joachim are infertile but pray for a child. They receive the promise of a child who will advance God’s plan of salvation for the world. Such a story, like many biblical counterparts, stresses the special presence of God in Mary’s life from the beginning.
Saint Augustine connects Mary’s birth with Jesus’ saving work. “She is the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley. Through her birth the nature inherited from our first parents is changed.” The opening prayer at Mass speaks of the birth of Mary’s Son as the dawn of our salvation, and asks for an increase of peace.

Delight in our God

150 150 Charlestown Catholic Community

We thought you might enjoy
a reprint of an article by Fr.
Ronan from 2016.

This week I returned to the Parish after more than 2 weeks of vacation time. Adapting to the change of pace that comes about from leaving one’s work-a-day world does not happen quickly. In fact, for the first days Charlestown and activities in the Parish were never far from my mind. Even though I returned to Charlestown for several commitments that emerged, slowly I became more used to the rhythm of the beautiful summer days along the coast in the Plymouth area. The natural loveliness of this corner of the coastline is alluring, and spending as much time as possible out-of-doors made the time go slowly. Gradually, the disconnect began to happen.

When every waking moment is not filled with issues, people, projects and various needs and challenges of the Parish, something else seeps in. I became much more conscious of everything around me: the sea and the tides, the birds and wildlife, the sunshine and the showers, the morning coffee and the quiet. As you know, Charlestown is not a quiet place – certainly not at St. Catherine’s Rectory which is under the Tobin Bridge and periodically sways to the weight of passing vehicles. Yet out on Duxbury, Kingston and Plymouth Bays – it is the sound of the ocean passing under the hull of the sailboat, the screeching of the gulls and the hurried chirps of the diving wrens that are heard.

And I do love to sail, a cat boat preferably and my 35 year old Marshall Sandpiper, only 15’ long, seems to love to be out on the water no matter the wind and conditions. Yet the sea is a master teacher and one who does not heed, very carefully, the signs and songs of the sea, pays a steep price.

There are few things I have done in my adult life that have so consistently been so humbling! It is the tide and the currents along with the winds and gusts that all play into a day of sailing, and it is never boring. For me what seems to slowly fall away is the need to be busy and productive – a trap we all might fall into. Stepping outside of that, one’s senses are sharper and creativity more evident. There is a sense of knowing more completely that God is always active – all around in every moving and living thing as well as in the sky, rocks, the air and the sea.

The power of God is easier to see and feel and to be amazed at. One knows that God is always “there” yet that is not to say that I am always present to God. Any of us can get caught into a trap, become stale, and miss the subtlety of the movement of God’s Spirit everywhere. Days away make possible a sense of being surrounded by and enfolded in the beauty of God.

The word “delight” is found often in the Book of Psalms and especially as used to describe how God delights in God’s creation – including you and me. Yes, I believe we are a source of delight to God! This God, Who is Love, sees us and all that surrounds us as a cause of delight. Isn’t that amazing? And so I have come to believe that just as God delights in us, God also wishes that we delight in God and in all of the beauty and wonder of God’s creation.

Now I am back in Charlestown. Many of us walk everyday all over town. And way too many walk looking down at smart phones and listening to music actually oblivious to all that surrounds us. Even a casual “good morning” goes unheeded because a fellow walker is someplace else wrapped in some distant busyness far from the beauty of the birdsong, bright summer flowers, the screeching gulls coming off the harbor and the sounds of children playing in a yard. Delight is missed all around.

It is good to be back in the Parish – really! Yet it so good to step away, as well, and become refreshed in all that God is – and to delight in it all.

Fr. Ronan

Ministry to the Sick and Homebound

We welcome the opportunity to provide the Sacraments of Confession, Communion or Anointing of the Sick to anyone who is homebound, either on a short or longer term basis, as we want to do our best to help them feel connected to our community.

Please call us at 617-242-4664 if you, a relative or neighbor is open to having a home visit for some friendly conversation and prayer.