Boston’s Shrine Celebrates 65th Anniversary

James Patrick Kelly, OFM In the Headlines

Under wet and windy skies, St. Anthony Shrine initiated its celebration of the feast of its patron, St. Anthony of Padua, in a bright second floor chapel, adorned with its newly-made rainbow of flags down the sides of the church. Dominic Monti, OFM, Provincial Vicar, was principal celebrant and homilist at a 10:30 Mass of Rededication. Community members gathered June 13 with many partners in ministry as well as invited guests and members of the worshipping community to commemorate the feast as well as the 65thanniversary of the Franciscans’ presence in downtown Boston.

Dominic’s homily, which contrasted St. Francis and St. Anthony, was masterful and captivating. He spoke of understanding of which spiritual forces guided each saint during his life. Many people said that they had never heard a clearer presentation of the specialness and uniqueness of each saint until that homily.

Festive Meals
The Mass was followed by a festive luncheon in the friary for all the Shrine’s ministers — friars and lay partners. Some invited guests also were able to join in.

That evening at 6 p.m., the friars hosted a spaghetti dinner for nearly 100 people — paying guests, the friar community and invited guests. The dinner that chef Jackie Mello prepared, which included Italian ice and cookies for dessert, was excellent. All had plenty; it seemed as if we got close to stretching the limits of the fifth floor that evening!

Inspiring History
After dinner, Dominic again delivered an excellent presentation, outlining the history of the friars of HNP in the Downtown Crossing area of Boston.  It traced back to when Archbishop O’Connell refused the friar-presence to when Archbishop (later cardinal) Richard J. Cushing, an affiliate of HNP later in life, warmly invited the friars first as confessors to the archdiocese, he clearly both outlined our history — with its ups and downs — here in Boston. 

The widely respected historian described the main stages of the Franciscan presence in Boston, beginning with the ministry of several friars from the Immaculate Conception Custody (now Province) then based in Allegany, N.Y. Since its establishment in 1947, 12 friars have served as guardians/director of St. Anthony Shrine.

“Since its founding, Arch Street has been one of the flagship ministries of Holy Name Province,” Dominic said.

Friars, staff members and guests seemed both thrilled to know all he had to share, as well as inspired by those early friars — especially Harold Blake, OFM, who had vision, determination, courage and, obviously, some funds to create this now state-famous downtown Shrine Church. Dominic was warmly welcomed by all the friars of the fraternity.  He added greatly to the day.

Special Messages
Archbishop Sean Patrick Cardinal O’Malley, OFM Cap., two auxiliary bishops, Mayor Thomas Menino and Senator Scott Brown, who were all unable to attend, sent messages of congratulations and best wishes.  Mayor Menino in particular is a great fan and supporter of the Shrine’s services and ministries to the community.

We friars soaked in all the best wishes and gratitude that the people of Boston and its environs had to offer on behalf of all the friars who have ministered here over the 65 years. We reap the fruits of their noble labors.

As Brian Cullinane, OFM, said, “It was a great day, despite the rain.”

— Fr. Jim, guardian and director of St. Anthony Shrine since last summer, served as concelebrant of the Mass on the feast of St. Anthony.