Boston Native Installed as Shrine Director

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

BOSTON — With a theme of “As We Go Forward,” James Patrick Kelly, OFM, and four other friars were installed as leaders of St. Anthony Shrine last week. Being assigned to St. Anthony Shrine and Ministry Center is like coming home for Jim, a Boston native who had spent nearly 40 years in the New York/New Jersey area. He replaces David Convertino, OFM, as director of the large urban ministry.

Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, celebrated the ritual of installation and re-commissioning on Oct. 16, beginning with recognition of the approximately 60 staff members and partners-in-ministry. Presiding was the Bishop John Dooher, DD, James’cousin. Francis McHugh, OFM, was master of ceremonies, and Thomas Donovan, OFM, was head sacristan. Music was provided by the Arch Street Band, directed by Jennifer Honan Galea.

After the opening song and prayer, directors of shrine ministries were asked to re-commit, and friars assigned to the shrine promised their support to Jim. Brian Cullinane, OFM, is the new assistant executive director of St. Anthony Shrine and Ministry Center, and John Maganzini, OFM, John Hogan, OFM, and Richard Flaherty, OFM, are the vicars. After installing James as guardian and executive director, the Provincial Minister presented him with the Rule of Life and shrine seal, symbols of his responsibilities at the shrine.

Support and Celebration
All those recognized, installed or re-commissioned were invited to recite the shrine’s mission statement, which highlights the legacy of St. Francis and the goal of Christian discipleship.

Jim’s sister, Mary, was the lector for the first reading, and his cousin, Anne Clancy Weynen, from Ireland, proclaimed the second reading. In his homily, Jim spoke about how St. Anthony Shrine was a part of his life gowing up in Boston.

At the close of Mass, John O’Connor extended best wishes from Holy Name Province. Bishop Dooher shared memories of how Jim expressed his desire to become a Franciscan friar in his earlier years. “At that time, I thought, maybe one day he will come to Arch Street,” said the bishop. Among other honored guests at the Mass was Sr. Marian Batho, CSJ, delegate for religious for the Archdiocese of Boston.

Following the Mass, guests gathered in the shrine’s auditorium for a luncheon that was attended by Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap.

As he wrote in a letter in the Oct. 16 bulletin of St. Anthony Shrine, Jim has been a friar for more than four decades and has specialized in one ministry.

“In 40 years, I’ve had incredible ministerial opportunities,” Jim said. “After receiving my Ph.D. in counseling and personnel services in 1979 from Fordham University, I’ve been a pastoral psycho-therapist full time for over 34 years.”

In August, he closed his FrancisCare practice in northern New Jersey, a ministry he established in 1978 in Fairlawn as the Holy Name Counseling Service. In 1993, he changed its name to FrancisCare and moved it to nearby Elmwood Park. Jim wrote about about this ministry in his Franciscan Journey, published The Anthonian magazine.

“I find my background work in psychology very helpful here in my ministry at the shrine,” Jim said. “Not only can I understand where people are coming from in their individual lives, but also — I hope and pray — I can help some people move through their grief and pain. The 18 ministries here are all geared to relieving emotional, spiritual and physical suffering of those who come through our doors. The shrine’s sign ‘All Are Welcome’ is meant completely.”

Jim, who was ordained in 1971, said he is looking forward to getting to know more about the ministries of St. Anthony Shrine. 

“The shrine programs that most impress me are the feeding of about 500 families weekly, the solace for those who have lost children brought through the Pieta Ministry, burying those who have been rejected by society and remain unclaimed when they die through the Lazarus Program, the 12-Step programs and spiritual direction, or companionship, program. Though what is offered to the seniors, young adults, Cursillistas, and other programs are not to be sneezed at, I clearly see the compassion in the previously mentioned ministries. The Mass and sacrament of reconciliation including work with those in second marriages stand on their own as the most valuable.”

Jim said he plans to meet with each ministry once he is settled. “I’m going to spend a day with each ministry and then review how it can be enlivened, if needed, altered to fit an emerging need, or even closed if it no longer meets community needs.”

“St. Anthony Shrine and Ministry Center is a living, breathing and growing ministry center of Holy Name Province. It must be open to change and newness or it will only be a place that people remember as being loved, and not as a place that people — as is so obvious — love in the present.”

shrine-rRoughly 60 people — both friars and lay partners and staff — are under his leadership, Jim said. “Of course, that responsibility is shared with my assistant director, Brian, the three vicars and about 15 directors. Eventually, though, the buck stops at my desk for the final decision.”

He became acquainted with many Arch Street community members at receptions held on Oct. 23 after each Mass.

“Though I have already experienced that the leadership ministry here is a lot of work, the rewards — unlike as a therapist — are immediate and in many instances, are awesome,” Jim said. “The warmth, openness, talents, generosity and dedication of the friars are admirable. I’m the lucky one who is already hearing over and over again: ‘I love the shrine.’ ‘The friars are the best.’ ‘You do such great work.’”

The photos above were provided by Nicole Aucoin, a St. Anthony Shrine staff member.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.