History of St. Cecilia's

4. The New Church

Father James Edward Dunford was a veteran of World War II. He was chaplain with the American Division from Guadalcanal to Japan and was known as the “Father Duffy of Guadalcanal” and “the little major with the big heart.” The people of St. Cecilia’s loved and respected him.

The job he faced was a big one. Not only were the spiritual needs of the parish demanding, the church building was too small and in need of repair.

Even with two priests it was necessary for them to get permission to say extra Sunday Masses, for they still cared for the patients at Cushing.

In May the families of the parish began a new devotion. A statue of the Blessed Virgin was moved to a different home each day. Here it would be set in a suitable place, often among the flowers in the garden, and the neighbors would gather and say the Rosary. There was never any difficulty in finding 31 families ready to welcome the Virgin.

June brought another Strawberry Festival but not much rain. By July the parish was praying every Sunday for showers which didn’t really come until fall.

When everyone returned from vacation the church was crowded, but the parking lot was overflowing. The 8:30 Mass was changed to 8:15 in hopes that that would solve some of the problem. The police restricted parking to one side of Esty Street and threatened to tag illegally parked cars. They were really only concerned with safety and offered to help fit the cars into the parking lot.

Father Dunford and Father Cameron completed another parish census. The parish had increased from 630 families to 900 families. There were 3,212 people belonging to St. Cecilia’s and 762 children attending religious education classes. They included a lot of willing workers. Volunteers helped spruce up the building and grounds, ran more whist parties and paper drives, and sent presents to the patients at Cushing. Forty boys and girls of the CYO sandpapered and washed all the benches and kneelers in preparation for Holy Week. They took off all the initials and then shellacked everything. Another confessional was needed and purchased for Lenten confessions. The women of the Guild replaced the covers on the cushions on the upper step at the communion rail. One woman, all by herself, repaired 14 card tables and a man, 12 banquet tables. The men of the Holy Name Society sanded the floor and put down new tiles in the main church. They also worked on the church grounds. The CYO boys painted the kitchen of the parish hall, while the women of the Guild replaced the curtains, drapes, and shades in the lower hall and kitchen. Money might be scarce but energy was not and it was given freely.

Since there was now no band, the May Procession was much smaller that year and ended with Benediction in the church.

The parking lot was finished, thanks to Mr. Joseph Perini who donated 300 feet of culvert to solve the drainage problems and Mr. Angelo Leverone who did the work at cost, building the new lot and resurfacing the old one beside the church. Esty Street was now one-way on Sunday.

The parking problem was solved but the religious education classes were overcrowded. There were 75 children in the prayer class alone. The basement of the rectory was made into classrooms and 100 more chairs purchased.

A carnival in the new parking lot under the chairmanship of Father Cameron netted $1,249.93. The Tabernacle Society ran a Harvest Fair and the Guild, a Christmas Bazaar. If they couldn’t do it themselves, they would raise the money to pay for it. The men of the parish painted the lines of the parking lot and the Guild donated $525 for a new outdoor crèche. Father cancelled the Sunday bulletins to save money.

In this, the 150th year of the diocese of Boston, Archbishop Cushing announced the founding of the Society of St. James the Apostle, which would provide priests for the missions in South America. By September, 18 priests from the archdiocese had volunteered. On September 21, Father Cameron added his name to this list. He had been very active while at St. Cecilia’s. He had been named Archdiocesan Director of Youth and had started “The Catholic Information Program” over Station WKOX at 12:45 each Sunday afternoon, besides his regular parish duties, but he answered Archbishop Cushing’s call. The parish planned a huge bon voyage party with lots of cookies, cakes, and coffee. To help with the work he had chosen, his friends at St. Cecilia’s wished him well with a very generous gift of money.

Another priest was making plans at this time to return to St. Cecilia’s. Father Ronald Saunders, who had grown up in the parish and served as altar boy with his twin brother, Robert, had been ordained at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., as a Marist priest. He came home to celebrate his first Mass and invited all of the parish to attend.

St. Cecilia’s needed another priest. Father Saunders couldn’t stay, but Father John Emmanuel Gallagher did and continued the duties that had been Father Cameron’s. Since the priests of St. Cecilia’s were still the chaplains at Cushing Hospital, another priest, Father Joseph McGlone, came also.

A group of men who belonged to the Knights of Columbus, but to councils in other localities, had been working to form a council in Ashland. The first officers were installed June 6, 1959, the night of the institution of the Bishop Rice Council, No. 4822, Ashland, Massachusetts. Among the charter members were three nephews of Bishop Rice – George J. Rice, Robert E. Rice, and William E. Rice. Father McGlone was the first chaplain and Luke Capen, Grand Knight.

Again in May the statue of the Blessed Virgin visited in the homes of St. Cecilia’s. In June, the new Dialogue Mass was first heard in Ashland. Now instead of just listening, the congregation made the responses to the priest along with the altar boys. Special classes for practicing these responses were held at the Sons of Mary for the Mass was still in Latin and the words unfamiliar to American tongues.

When Cardinal Cushing came to administer Confirmation in April, 1959, he agreed that a new church was needed and suggested that it be started by the next spring. The parishioners were delighted and began building a building fund. Some gave a little each week; a few were able to pay their entire pledge of $300 at one time. Money-raising projects of all kinds were begun. One little girl came to the rectory and told Father Dunford, “We ran a party for the new church and we want to give you the $6.20 we made!” Father was very pleased and thanked the group from the altar. Soon the children in all parts of town were selling raspberries or lemonade and putting on shows for the new church. The Knights of Columbus ran a carnival in the new parking lot and raised $1,180 and a friend of Father Dunford’s donated $1,000. In eight months the parish raised $90,000. The total cost of the new building would be about $300,000. The census this year included 960 families and 3,609 people. St. Cecilia’s was still growing.

The parishioners had a busy year with all the fund-raising projects but they still found time for the ordinary events of parish life. The scout troops had been disbanded. The Toka Pongo Group of Campfire Girls was organized. There were so many children it was necessary to have another confirmation class this year. To the usual May devotions, the Knights of Columbus added a Living Rosary. This was held at Stone Park with 172 men forming the Rosary. There was also a tableau of Our Lady of Fatima and special permission had been granted for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at the park. During July the Knights held another successful carnival. The priests were busy, too. Father Gallagher continued the radio program on WKOX. Father Dunford bought two houses on Esty Street and arranged for more repairs on the old church and rectory. The building inspector warned him the rectory chimney would fall if not rebuilt. A house across the street had to be torn down. While attending to all this, the time for the census arrived and somehow it was taken. In 1960 there were 985 families, 3,877 people.

Again it was time to say goodbye, this time to Father McGlone who was going to Our Lady of Lourdes in Jamaica Plain. The Knights of Columbus arranged his testimonial for they were losing both a friend and a chaplain.

Rev. Robert Emmett O’Brien, who had been assistant at Our Lady of Lourdes in Jamaica Plain, now came to St. Cecilia’s. He took over the radio program from Father Gallagher and both were very busy when Father Dunford entered Carney Hospital, too sick to even have visitors. It was a full month before Father Dunford returned to the rectory under doctor’s orders to take life very easy for the rest of the winter.

The trees had been cut across the street and the ground leveled. Now the contractor was working on the drainage. This was a major problem for the water table was only four feet below ground level.

As always, life must go on. First Lent, then Easter passed. The Knights of Columbus sponsored another Living Rosary. Daily the rosary was said in gardens throughout the parish. A new Boy Scout troop was formed and Bishop Thomas Riley confirmed another class of boys and girls. But best of all, there was a party for Father Cameron. He had been very sick during his stay in Peru, but was now taking a vacation at home before returning to South America. A “Welcome Home Party” was held in the high school gym on Concord Street. Money paid for tickets was given to Father for his work in Peru and the people were able to see some of that work. Father showed movies he had taken there and demonstrated his knowledge of the Quechua language which sounded very strange to his audience.

The Knights of Columbus sponsored another carnival in the parking lot. With the last check to the contractor, $137,000 had been paid out and the reserve fund was exhausted.

In quick succession, first the Sons of Mary notified Father Dunford that only three seminarians would be available for religious education classes, then the housekeeper had to leave because of sickness, and finally it was time to take another census. The people of the parish were equally busy with a Parish Rummage Sale, a Harvest Supper, and a Scrap Metal Drive. The contractor was busy also. The church would be ready for Midnight Mass on Christmas. The main altar hadn’t come and a real New England snowstorm did, but it really didn’t matter. The Solemn High Mass of Christmas was sung at midnight with all the priests, a full contingent of altar boys, and a large, happy congregation in attendance.

With the large church it was only necessary to say four Masses each Sunday. In Hanuary, the main altar of Italian marble arrived, the gift of Father Dunford in memory of his parents. The original altar stone of the old church was incorporated in this altar. The new tabernacle which was placed on the altar was a gift of the parishioners in memory of Rt. Rev. Msgr. Callahan. On March 31 the Cardinal laid the cornerstone and the new St. Cecilia’s was dedicated. Father Dunford took advantage of a little used canon law and dispensed all the parishioners and their guests from the law of Lenten fast and abstinence on that happy day. Following Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the Cardinal spoke, congratulating and commending the parish for all they had achieved. Rt. Rev. Msgr. Hartigan, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Wall, and Father Kane came back for the celebration; Brothers from the Sons of Mary aided the Cardinal; the Knights of Columbus provided an honor guard, while Father Gallagher, Father O’Brien and Father Dunford served as Deacon, Sub-Deacon, and Deacon of Exposition respectively. The Sisters of St. Joseph, who had helped with the religious education classes for many years, joined the many parishioners who came to the dedication.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was organized in the parish that spring and a collection taken up to help these men begin the work for which they had volunteered. Since all their work is done anonymously, few in the parish realize the amount of help they have provided and, in fact, are still providing, to those in need.

Again Father Dunford was taken ill and spent many weeks in the Veterans Administration Hospital in Jamaica Plain. Parish activities continued, however. There was a May Procession, the Living Rosary, a carnival and, since the church was built, the Knights of Columbus began building their own new home on West Union Street. The work went quickly and the annual Knights of Columbus New Year’s Eve Party was held in the new building.

The Second Vatican Council, that5 was to bring such tremendous changes to the whole Church, began on October 11, 1962. Prayers were said at all the Masses for the success of the undertaking and the people waited eagerly for news from Rome.

St. Cecilia’s had been trying to buy all the land needed for first the rectory, then the grotto, then parking and finally the new church. In the area needed for parking, Mr. Esty, the original owner, had laid out a street. The town, after some difficulty, turned this over to the church but there was one more section located in the parking lot which was not available. At the town meeting, the citizens of Ashland voted to sell this lot to St. Cecilia’s for back taxes. That this article passed was due in large measure to Rev. Ernest Croy of the Federated Church who spoke in its favor at the town meeting and to whom the parish was very grateful.

Some problems had appeared with the new church building. There was a leak in the roof and some unwanted cracks. Letters were exchanged with the builder and he promised to fix everything.

The Knights of Columbus and Holy Name Society volunteered to help with the census that year by passing out forms which would be returned to the rectory.

Part of the proceeds from the 1963 carnival was given to the Ashland Firefighters Survivors Fund, for Ashland had been shocked by the deaths of three firemen, including Fire Chief Hubert Moran, in an explosion in Framingham. In November a Requiem Mass was said for President Kennedy. On March 24, the Tuesday of Holy Week, Father Dunford died. He was buried from St. Cecilia’s with a Solemn High Requiem Mass. He was only 59 years old.

Father Joseph B. Corkery, pastor of St. Rose’s Church in Topsfield, was transferred to St. Cecilia’s. At the first Sunday Mass Father Corkery said in Ashland, prayers were said for the soul of Rt. Rev. Msgr. Donahue.

The results of Vatican II began to reach Ashland in May of 1964. When the priest distributed Communion, he said, "Corpus Christi" as he held the host before each persdon receiving and the person was to answer "Amen." It took quite a while for the people to get comfortable with this new procedure.

This year’s May Procession was the biggest and best ever, worthy of a whole page of pictures in the Boston Traveler. Not only were there May Queens, altar boys, scouts, campfire girls and the First Communion class, there were small nuns, priests, bishops, angels and even a pint-sized pope.

Everyone agreed there should be a memorial to Father Dunford. Someone suggested a bell tower and carillon, and again the people gave willingly. The bells could ring the Angelus, Mass calls, and toll for funerals as well as play carols on Christmas or hymns to Mary in May. By September the money was collected and in December the foundation was started.

From Rome word came that sacramental absolution must be given in the vernacular. From now on, the people would understand what the priest said as he spoke the words of absolution. Changes appeared in the Mass also. A new altar was placed near the communion rail so that the priest could face the people. More English was used in the Mass and the people were expected to play a more active part.

And then, just before Advent, workmen appeared around the rectory. A structural engineer examining the building for the diocese found the building was literally caving in. In order to keep the priest from waking up beside the oil burner some morning, it was necessary to install a special steel beam to reinforce the main carrying beam. Father Corkery, father Gallagher and Father O’Brien slept a little better when the work was completed.

Father Corkery was impressed by the beauty of the Della Robia which had been in the old St. Cecilia’s. It had been up so high that few had really seen it. Now cleaned and restored and mounted on a suitable support, he placed it just inside the altar rail for Christmas Day.

The pastor had two reasons for suggesting a parish variety show that spring. Money was one and a chance for the people to have fun together was the second. He was pleased on both counts. The fun began at the first rehearsal in February. Walter Doherty of Woburn was an experienced director. Under his guidance the large cast, many with no previous experience, put on “The Best of Broadway” to the delight of two very large audiences on May 2 and 3.

The Mass kept changing. Still more English was used and the people had to follow their missalettes closely, for there were also more responses. Each week there seemed to be another change or two.

The bell tower was completed in time for the May Procession.

The Confraternity for Christian Doctrine program, as it was now known, had increased to such an extent that the Parish Hall, even when used several days a week, was inadequate. There were also few religious teachers, nuns or brothers, available. The solution suggested was to have lay teachers instruct children in the teachers’ homes. Because of the numbers, even this was difficult, but eventually places were found for all the children.

Now came the biggest change of all for the parish. The congregation was expected to sing at Mass! This has met with more or less success depending on the people who are there, the hymns chosen and other unknown factors.

Father Gallagher had been at St. Cecilia’s for six years. It was time to say goodbye again. He left in June as Father George C. Kenrick arrived. All during Father Dunford’s long sickness, most of the weight of the parish had fallen on Father Gallagher. The parishioners, while wishing him the best, felt a great sense of loss as they shook his hand in fsrewell.

An interesting experience arranged by the Holy Name Society during Unity Octave was a Mass in the Syro-Malankara rite. The Rev. John Melomtaromtil, a priest from India doing graduate studies in Boston, came to St. Cecilia’s on Sunday, January 22, 1967, and said an evening Mass to which all were invited.

Another experience was having Father announce that the Sunday collection had been stolen, not from the church but from the bank. Checks given to the parish were lost and Father asked those who had given by check to please identify themselves. I t took a while but finally all the donors were located and accounts straightened out.

There was another variety show in 1967. This was the third. There were also special meetings to improve the parish singing. The variety show, at least, was successful.

This year’s May Procession was less spectacular than some others, but the depth of devotion to the Blessed Mother had not changed. Nor had the feelings of the parish for their former pastor, Msgr. Hartigan. A busload of his friends went to Everett to celebrate with him the 50th anniversary if his ordination.

This was the year for new and happy events. Through Father Kenrick, three seminarians, Frank Glynn, George Morin and Daniel Graham, arrived the day after the Fourth and opened a Daily Bible School with Bible instruction, some field trips and a few outings included. More than 70 children signed up for six exciting summer weeks. Even the seminarians had a good time.

There was no carnival this year. Somehow dates got tangled and the owner of the carnival had agreed to be somewhere else on the week he was wanted at St. Cecilia’s. Instead, the Knights of Columbus held a raffle, Field Day and dance, which brought in about $1,000. The church was built but not paid for, so Father Corkery was very grateful to them. Since the start of the building fund, the Council had contributed over $22,000.

The death of a parishioner brought sadness to the whole town. Charles E. Cadorette, a member of the Ashland Police Department, was killed while on duty, leaving a wife and children. As a parish, St. Cecilia’s prayed for him and his family. As individuals, they helped raise money for them.

In the fall of 1967, the Interfaith Ministerial Association of Greater Framingham sponsored a school of religion for adults. For six weeks, it met in churches and synagogues of the area, providing an opportunity for all to learn about the beliefs of their neighbors. St. Cecilia’s, with Father Kenrick, had one of the largest groups attending.

That fall a major change was made in the Mass. The canon had been translated into English and the congregation no longer needed a missal to understand the priest.

The Christian Family Movement, which had been active in the parish for many years, now took on the task of welcoming newcomers to St. Cecilia’s. A coffee was held in the parish hall after the 9:00 o’clock Mass each Sunday and new and old parishioners were welcome. The parish in general was remembering the boys in Viet Nam by contributing items at church to be given to the Town Committee and by gathering the names of Catholic boys so that the parish could send a remembrance at Christmas.

In January of 1967, an Ecumenical Service with the Federated Church for the intention of Christian Unity was held at St. Cecilia’s and over 700 people attended. It was repeated in 1968 with equal success.

Not all the changes at church came from Rome. A generous gift from the Magnani family provided hearing aids for all the confessionals. These were given in memory of John and Santina Magnani.

The parish show this year was under the youth group and again a great success. The May Procession was more colorful this year with the girls in pastel dresses and white gloves. Those confirmed by Bishop MacKenzie wore robes for the ceremony. Rented robes were less expensive than new dresses or suits.

Father Corkery, Father Kenrick and Father O’Brien were invited to attend Mass on Wednesday, May 29, 1968. This was a very special occasion. Father R. Michael Guarino, who was born and raised in Ashland, was to say his first Mass at St. Cecilia’s. His grandparents, Bonfiglio and Clementina Perini, immigrants from Italy, settled in Ashland in 1913. They gave one of the beautiful windows in Old St. Cecilia’s when it was being renovated. Their sons gave a new electric organ when the old pipe organ collapsed. When the new St. Cecilia’s was built, one son, Louis R. Perini, gave the altar to the Blessed Mother in memory of his sister, Mary Perini Visalli, and the altar to the Sacred Heart in memory of his brother \, Charles B. Perini. As a memorial to their parents, Bonfiglio and Clementina, the family gave a magnificent window in the choir loft over the entrance. This portrays St. Cecilia with King David and St. Gregory on either side. The parish joined their priests in celebrating a most happy and blessed occasion.

And then Father O’Brien, who had done so much for the CCD program and served those at Cushing so faithfully, left for St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Jamaica Plain. He had been in Ashland for eight years and the goodbyes at his farewell party were sad ones indeed.

Father E. Paul Sullivan came from St. Augustine’s in South Boston and found plenty to do. There was another Bible School this summer under the direction of two seminarians, Tom Ryan and Joe Nicholson, from St. John’s. It closed after six weeks with an outdoor Mass and cookout to the delight of the children.

The parish, at the direction of the Archdiocese, began preparations for establishing a parish council. All summer long, the bulletin explained the purposes and processes involved.

The parish was still working to improve the singing at Mass. In October, guitars were tried as accompaniment, with small success.

But then it was time for Father Corkery to move on to St. Mary’s in Waltham and again there was a sad farewell gathering, this time at the Knights of Columbus hall.

Father William J. Noonan, pastor of St. Joachim’s in Rockport, came to St. Cecilia’s. His welcome to Ashland was also held in the Knights of Columbus hall.

Notices of changes in the Mass continued to appear in the bulletin. There were many new prayers.

Another change was home Masses. In connection with the census and with meetings concerning the parish council, Masses were held in homes throughout the parish. A brief note in the bulletin at the end of June said that the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday could be fulfilled on Saturday if there was a need, and that if anyone felt this need, to please notify the pastor. Mass at 5:30 P.M. on Saturday was first scheduled on September 6. For some time the priests had been assisted not only by altar boys but laymen as lectors. Now women and high school students were invited to become lectors also.

In the summer, “Operation Hospitality” began. Children from the inner city, particularly black children, were invited to spend part of the summer in Ashland.

Just before the new year, an 18-member parish council was elected to assist Father Noonan, but in June, 1970, Father was transferred to St. Mary’s, Walpole, and Father John E. Foley came to Ashland.

Father Foley came from St. Rita’s of Lowell but had grown up in St. Stephen’s parish in Framingham where he had been a Sunday School teacher and so was quite familiar with this area. Father Kenrick and Father Sullivan were still here to assist him, but changes were coming.

Four months after his arrival, the parish celebrated the burning of the mortgage on the new church with a Mass, reception, buffet and dancing at the Knights of Columbus hall.

Some of the men and women of Ashland became acquainted with the work of Hospitality House in Hopkinton and Pine Street Inn in Boston through Father Kenrick. A few volunteered to help. One of these was Kay Whelan, who began making sandwiches for Pine Street. Obviously she couldn’t fill their need for food, even with the aid of her family. The people of St. Cecilia’s were given the chance to help. All that was asked was one loaf of bread made into sandwiches every third week. Enough volunteered to make possible trips to Boston each Monday and Thursday. Only one or two women went in with the sandwiches, so when other parishes offered their assistance St. Cecilia’s was ready to accept their offer. Now Mrs. Whelan and/or Mrs. Jackie Lavoie of Hopkinton pick up the sandwiches at the home of Mrs. Kay Powers on the first Monday of each month. After more than ten years, some of the original sandwich makers continue to bring their loaf each month and some bring four or even more.

Father Kenrick and Father Sullivan couldn’t stay forever. In 1971, Father Kenrick left to work at Pine Street and Father Gerard Barry came here. Father Barry had been doing prison work and just wanted to be where there lawns and grass. St. Cecilia’s definitely met those requirements. After four years he left6 and Father Paul Hugh McEntee came, a redhead with a ready smile. Both Father McEntee and Father Sullivan left in 1979. There were many needs for priests in the Archdiocese. St. Cecilia’s could no longer have three priests. The parish was lucky to have Father David G. Bonfiglio assigned here. He had previously been stationed at St. Stephan’s in Framingham and so, like Father Foley, was familiar with the area before he came. The parish really needed more help. This year Father Foley celebrated his fortieth anniversary as a priest. Instead of retiring he went looking for help and found it in many places. His friend, Father Robert McCabe, wanted to return to parish work. He had been teaching for almost ten years but his health was not good. Since he had to have regular kidney dialysis treatments, he had to be near a hospital offering this service. Father Foley invited him to Ashland. There was a hospital nearby and perhaps the country air and scenery would help. Father McCabe was the one who helped. He had more ambition than energy and used all he had. First a Strawberry Festival was organized where he met everyone, then a "Love Your Neighbor Breakfast" at the Knights of Columbus Hall, and finally he invited the "Adelines" for an evening of music at the Mindess Middle School. Between these activities he entered the hospital regularly but he did not get better. His death in January of 1982 caused much sadness in Ashland.

Another helper came from St. John’s. James Fratus, a young seminarian, took care of the youth activities for over a year. The parish was delighted when he was ordained, though they knew he would not be coming back to Ashland. He is at present planning to lead a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, which definitely is not near here. While Father Fratus was here, his friend, Tom Mulvaney, another seminarian, came to help also. Father Mulvaney has returned to the Brooklyn Diocese. Otheres came from Pope John XXIII Seminary. These included Deacon Paul Moynihan, formerly a research librarian who worked with the CCD program; Deacon Tom Shea, an engineer and ex-officer in the Marines; and Deacon Mike Chilton, a grandfather and former Attorney General. All of these men contributed something of themselves, something special to St. Cecilia’s.

The priests from the Marist Seminary and the Sons of Mary have filled in the gaps since the days when Father Lambert practically took up residence in Ashland. Father Stanley Mascarhenas, a Jesuit from India, and Father Jacob Christos from Ethiopia have made the people of St. Cecilia’s much more aware of the happenings in other parts of the Church.

Father Foley also brought Mrs. Carol Zani of Hopkinton to the parish as part-time Religious Coordinator of the CCD program. There are a lot of children in this parish and it takes a great deal of time and energy to find them all and see that they all have teachers. Mrs. Zani has also arranged events for these teachers, such as training sessions, evenings of recollection and breakfasts to keep them happy, informed and inspired for the work they are doing.

Life in any parish has to include a certain amount of repetition. A comfortable pattern has been developing over the past decade. Activity resumes in the fall with the CCD classes which involve more people than most of the parish might expect. The Women’s Club begins work on the Christmas Bazaar and then it’s time for the Thanksgiving Mass. Since the Mass is on Tuesday no one is torn between a football game or holiday preparations and this family liyurgy. The children are being costumed and coached for the Living Nativity before the bazaar takes place. Appropriately at St. Cecilia’s, Christmas features music, carefully chosen and beautifully presented. The women, however, are already at work on the Guilbola. Valentine’s Day brings a special liturgy for couples and a chance to renew marriage vows. Activities in preparation for confirmation are underway as other classes prepare for First Communion and First Confession. March 17th is a special day. Some may celebrate Evacuation Day with Boston or St. Patrick’s Day with the Irish but St. Cecilia’s celebrates Catherine Falvey’s Birthday after morning Mass with a big chocolate cake in the parish hall. At Easter the Christians of Ashland, from St. Cecilia’s and the Federated Church, join in a Sunrise Service. May processions are smaller now but the Prayer Class brings flowers to Mary each year. With all of these activities, Masses each day as well as Sundays, Rosaries, home visits by the Eucharistic Ministers and Father there are special activities which may or may not be repeated. Prayer partners, Evenings of Recollection, Weekend Retreats, and Bible Study groups were part of this anniversary year. All of these are what makes this parish special for the people who are the parish.

Two pieces of sculpture connect the past with the present. Father Delaney was a young man when he came to the new parish of St. Cecilia. The bust by Bob Amendola shows him in his later years after he had watched the parish grow and change, after he had helped celebrate the special times while visiting with old friends. The statue of St. Cecilia which now stands ready to burst into song before the new church, Father Delaney saw on the altar of the old church. There have been changes. Father Foley has tried to make the new ways of Vatican II as comfortable as possible during the 14 years he has been a part of the parish.

One hundred years ago, people with strong, active faith began St. Cecilia’s. Now with faith enriched by Vatican II the people of God at St. Cecilia’s look forward to another 100 years of growth in faith, good works and numbers. 

 

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