Saturday, January 31, 2009

Vietnam, Vatican II, Civil Rights, Laity Ministries 1960-1978

In January, 1960, William H. Bannon, residing at of 127 Morse Street and executive of the Mansfield Bleachery, was honored by Pope John XXIII with the Star of Gregory, the highest rank of the Papal Order. The Order was established in 1831 by Pope Gregory XVI and is bestowed on Catholic men and women in recognition of their service to the Church, unusual labors, support of the Holy See, and the good example set in their communities and country. Bannon had previously been honored as a Knight of Malta, an organization founded in Jerusalem in 1050 to provide care for poor and sick pilgrims to the Holy Land. Today, its goal is to assist the elderly, refugees, the handicapped, children, the homeless, those with terminal illness without distinction of race or religion. Mr. Bannon is remembered as a man who quietly distributed much of his wealth and contributed generously to the building and furnishing of the new St. Mary’s church.

In March, 1960, "Cottontails," the second annual St. Mary’s minstrel show took place, directed by Larry Jondro and Jim Hennessey. There were many people involved in the success of the events including, Jack McCarthy, Lorraine Norton, Don Cleary, Marilyn Scott, Joseph Silva, Mary Callahan, Tom McGowen, Charlie O'Brien, Steve Linfield, and Jeanette McKay. Headliners were soloists Dolores Pinsonault, Nancy Baker, Lillian O'Malley, James Silvi, and Helen McKay; acrobat, Leona White; The Roulette Twirlers; ballet, Ellen O'Reilly; tap dance, Coleen O'Donnell and Susan Doonan; a trio, the Banjoliers. The show was performed before "standing room only" crowds in the high school auditorium.

Rev. John J. Keahane was assigned as pastor in June, 1960. Fr. Keahane transferred from St. Mary's in East Walpole. Born in 1897, he was a WWI veteran and had played basketball for Boston College. He even held the amateur boxing New England Heavyweight title, under the name "Joe O'Brien." Under his administration that the church debt was finally paid off. In fact an additional $30,000 in property was purchased. Fr. Keahane had the title of "Monsignor" bestowed upon him. The title is reserved a priest of the Catholic Church for some outstanding work in the field of administration, missionary endeavor, or scholastic achievement. When Bishop Jeremiah Minihan conferred the title on Msgr. Keahane, he stated, "The honor was not sought, which made it ever more glorious!"

In the years leading up to Vatican II, lay people were increasing becoming active participants in their thirst for spiritual development, Catholic action, and religious education. In 1961, the "Catholic Family Movement (CFM)" commenced in the parish. Former parishioner, Rosemary McNabb, recalled, "It was during this era when groups of couples, began to regularly meet in each others homes, reading and discussing scripture...later the priest, who was always present, but not joining in the discussions, would then participate." The CFM began in the early 1940s in South Bend, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois. CFM was a national movement of parish (neighborhood) small groups of families that meet in one another’s homes to reinforce Christian values and actively encourage other fellow Christian parents through active involvement with others. CFM groups contain five to seven families and the adults meet two nights each month in each others houses.

In September,1962, the parish elected its first Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) Board. The officers were: President, Doug Brunell, principals Greg Shinsky and Mrs. Sheila Coyle; and program chairperson, Miss. Margaret Ahern. Later officers and helpers included C. Joseph Chaisson, Norman Rice, Anthony Fiore, Gertrude Bresse and Geraldine Davies.

The local religious practices of Catholic parents, students and public employees regarding observing Holy days, resulted in a statement by the School Committee, dated June 14, 1962, Schools not to close on Good Friday:"The Foxboro Public Schools will not be closed on any religious holiday. Any teacher wishing to take a day off in order to observe a religious holiday will not receive pay. Any student wishing to be dismissed early for the purpose of a religious service must bring in a written request."

In February, 1962, Fr. Richard J. Butler, ordained only a week, was assigned to St. Mary's. In a letter he shared a few memories. "My days at St. Mary's were great...arrived here six months before the bishops convened for the Second Vatican Council. It was the last of the old days but already in Foxboro the spirit of new days was present...The executive board of the CCD exercised a vital ministry and held responsibilities that could match any parish council which Vatican II encouraged...the parish was growing and the people were responding to the growth...then came Vatican II." He wrote, "Ecumenism took hold well from the onset. In January 1965, there was the first of a series at Lakeview Ballroom. In the Civil Rights crises that surfaced throughout the country in 1965, the response in Foxboro was rooted in the ecumenical bonding that had already taken hold." Writing about the local impact of Vatican II , he stated, "Liturgical changes came quickly, Even before I left the parish in 1966, Fr. Keahane had arranged for renovations in the sanctuary with the altar brought forward and the introduction of lay lectors and lay song leaders." He related the importance of the Cursillo movement, "Cursillo was responsible for much of the early formation of parish leaders in Vatican II changes. From 1964 onward several dozen members of the parish had gone to various centers-Cumberland, Attleboro, North Easton, and Brighton- for the three day program and were living out the 'Fourth Day' in a variety of parish activities." The Cursillo is a ministry of the Roman Catholic Church. It was founded in Majorca, Spain by a group of laymen in 1944. To train lay people to become effective leaders over the course of a three-day weekend. The weekend includes fifteen talks, some given by priests and some by lay people.

In November, 1964 a general norms effectively established the constitution of the liturgy in all the parishes, changing the Mass to be offered with the priest facing the congregation, a lay commentator to be used in the ceremonies, and the entire congregation singing at all scheduled Masses. The present lay-ministry of Lector actually began with layman selected as of lay-commentators and readers during. At specific times during the Mass, these laymen would explain to the parishioners what was occurring on the alter. It was a time of transition, parts of the Mass were in English and others in Latin. Mr. John J. Ahern one of the first. Lay-commentators in the parish.

Fr. George J. Connolly, described Fr. Keahane in a letter, "The strong ecumenical movement which developed in Foxboro had its beginnings in the good relationship he enjoyed with all the patients and the many friends of the hospital on whom he called for assistance. In time, his attitude reached many outside the hospital, making him one of the earliest 'Apostles for Ecumenism.’"

During this era, the curates who served under Fr. Keahane included, Reverends John T. Finnegan, Richard J. Butler, David Mulligan, Gerard T. McMahon, John Bernatonis, George Connolly, and Joseph Mullen. Fr. Finnegan was assigned to the parish in February, 1960. He was a native of West Roxbury, and served as an officer aboard the USS Gianard, a destroyer during the Korean War. St. Mary's was Fr. Finnegan's only parish assignment. After two years at St. Mary's he was selected to study Canon law in Rome. He returned from his studies abroad and became a professor of Church History and Canon Law at Pope John XXIII Seminary.

In January, 1965, three hundred men representing all the faiths in town, including Catholics for the first time, gathered for the first "Ecumenical Workshop Service" at Lakeview Ballroom . The representatives for the meeting were John J. Ahern and Jack Authlete. These annual gathering began in the late 1950's and was initially composed mostly of Protestant men from St. Marks, Bethany, and the Universalist Churches. After the service they were joined by 'representatives' of other denominations.

In March, the Foxboro Reporter interviewed Rev. Gerard T. McMahon on his return from Selma, Alabama, "The most impressive feature was the silence of the seven block march to the Dallas County Court House following the memorial service. It shows people throughout the country the seriousness of our concern about the racial situation."

In December, 1965, Catholics throughout the world were called to observe a "Triduum of Prayer" at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. The Council was first announced on January 25, 1959, by Pope John XXIII, first convened in October, 1962 and concluded on December 8, 1965. The purpose of the triduum was explained to the parishioners of St. Mary’s, "Catholics all throughout the world might be drawn into the spirit of the Council in praying for a new Pentecost that will renew, through the Holy Spirit, the face of the spouse of Christ and of the times."

In January, 1967, the school committee was presented with a petition signed by Fr. NcMahon and five other clergy of the town, "We, the undersigned clergy of Foxboro, agree that since the state law leaves it up to the discretion of the school committee of our town whether or not to rent school property if it is to the advantage of the community - we agree that the churches of Foxboro should be offered the opportunity to rent the public school buildings upon said churches' request and the approval of the school committee." The committee voted favorably for the request and soon after over 1,100 children of St. Mary's attended Saturday morning classes several of the Foxboro school buildings.

The impact of Vatican II resonated with the laity eager for spiritual renewal and Catholic action. . St. Mary's offered a very progressive outreach program to the adult population of the parish. The Adult CCD program was expanded to include a "Discussion Club' and a "Couples Club." The former was an avenue for parishioners to discuss Vatican II, especially the "Constitution on the Church." The latter was a "new venture" under the direction of Bob and Brenda Weiss, to develop a Christian social atmosphere. The entire adult program at St. Mary's during this era was in consonance with the "Year of Faith" proclaimed by Pope Paul VI, " help, by prayer and action, to bring Christianity to a renewed vitality so necessary in the modern era."
In October, 1967, Rev. William P. Castles was appointed pastor. Fr. Castles had been an associate pastor at St. Mary's in the early 1930's. Several parishioners recalled that Fr. Castles arrived in Foxboro expecting to find the quiet village town he remembered from his days as a curate. Unfortunately for the pastor and the parishioners, his three years are recalled as very difficult years, for the parish demographics had changed greatly. Fr. Castle’s style of leadership frustrated many members of the parish. It was stated, "He wasn't a man to place himself in the limelight, and he had a too soft touch approach." The end of Vatican II and the liturgical changes were followed by an era that forced many priests and laity make a commitment to the various aspects of social justice, civil rights, the war on poverty, urban renewal, and the morality of Vietnam War.

On May 7, 1968, the Foxboro Council, Knights of Columbus, #6063 was established. Early organizers included Pat Munn, Richard Noonan, Lloyd Gibbs, and Emil Ferencik.
In November, 1968, St. Mary's began preparations to elect a parish council. The formation of the parish council was a response to diocesan recommendations. Ideally the council was to act as an advisory and decision-making body with the pastor and priests of the parish. Members of the Nominating and Organizing Committees included; Linda Sawyer, Dan Enxing, Dorrie Manning, Bob Palmer, Frank Ricker, Terry Giovino, Rev. Joseph Mullen, Neil Arsenault, Frank McCusker, and Jim Graham. The election was held early in 1969. The Reporter mentions the race for "Administrative Chairman" between Frank Barros and Attorney Garrett Spillane was a "Cliff Hanger." The vote was 140 for Barros and 140 for Spillane. The tie was broken by a vote of the members of the Organizing and Nominating Committee. The vote gave the position to Barros.
Other officers elected were Robert Pyne, Theresa Giovini, Bob Weiss, Frank Ricker, Bob McAullife, Frank McCusker, and Robert Palmer.

In January, 1969, the subtle existence of turmoil and emotionalism in the parish revealed itself in a controversy concerning the religious education of youth in the parish. Over 400 parishioners gathered to take part in a panel discussion and open forum on the subject , High School Religious Education, Its Goals, Content,"and the teaching methods of "informational" verses "formational." The students on the panel arrived at a conclusion that CCD should prepare them for the future and should give them a background for facing responsibilities, give them insights into life, point out ideals, and be relevant to their present situation. Several teachers related how the weekly class was a learning and growing experience for them.

Fr. William Bene attended the meeting and published his thoughts in a letter to the editor titled, "A Close Look at CCD Panel - Sometimes Hot." He wrote, "Some people in the audience drew the conclusion that personal opinion was replacing church teaching, that classes were mere 'gab-sessions' on current events ...that the ‘informational’ style as a means seeks to impart a list of facts to be learned and attempts to be thorough at the expense of being broad, and is often, in fact quite narrow. The presumption exists that for every question there already exists an answer." The other style, ‘formational’ attempts to develop an attitude, a way of living and is capable of being quite broad at the expense, sometimes, of being superficial....the key question is, ‘What is the role of the parent?’...The question came indirectly when one of the teachers on the panel expressed the feeling that some students could speak more openly in class than at home. To some this was taken to mean that there was little or no direct communication between parents and students and that CCD teachers had moved in and became a wedge between the generations...It was not evident that this misunderstanding was cleared up by the time the program ended but the role of the parent in the total education of a child and young adult is central. The CCD program exists to assist parents in their responsibility." He closed his letter, "Throughout the evening, ideas were exchanged openly and sometimes sharply. Although the call of the opening Scripture reading to was to 'charity and love' it was temporarily forgotten."

A week later, Fr. Bene's Palm Sunday sermon was published in the Foxboro Reporter. By this time, the Vietnam war was taking its toll on the consciences of the people of the United States, and in particular, the Catholic clergy were struggling with the implications of a "just war."
Fr. Bene’s sermon not only upset many of the parishioners, but resulted in being transferred out of the parish. He preached, "Modern war is serious business. What did Christ say about peace? What has the Church said about peace? Christ said 'My peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you,' and also 'he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.' Has the Church followed up Christ's teaching at all?...What has happened to the just war theory since then? Is it dead or alive?...The Second Vatican Council took as its own a just war theory and noted that it had to be applied more strictly than ever because now all wars are world wars in their impact! A just war therefore has conditions to be moral. First, it must be a last resort, having exhausted all peaceful means. Second, it must be an act of defense, not backed by aggression. Third, it must be declared legally constituted by the nation involved. Fourth, there must exist a reasonable certainty of victory. Lastly, military tactics and objectives must discriminate between civilians and soldiers. How many yes answers do you come up with concerning our country's involvement in the war with Vietnam? The Palm we carry home this morning is a symbol of peace. But, can we in good conscience do this unless we are really in favor of peace? And can we really be in favor of peace unless we are willing to do something for peace!...In light of all this, have we, as Christians, any choice but to accept the teachings off Christ and the Church? Or, do we consider these optional?"

The following May, the names of the 33,000 Americans killed in Vietnam at that time were read in a 20 hour session on Foxboro's Common. The idea was conceived by four Foxboro clergymen, Fr. William Bene, St. Mary's; Reverends John Benbow and Steven Wilkenson, both from Bethany; and Rector Walter Sobol, St. Marks. As one body, they issued a joint statement, "The Vietnam War is a national tragedy of horrifying proportions and it has divided the American people as nothing else since the Civil War."

In January, 1970, Fr. Castles received permission for early retirement. He was replaced by Rev. James B. Murphy, a retired, Army Chaplain with thirty years in the service and held the rank of Colonel. Fr. Murphy's style of leadership was quite different than that of Fr. Castle's. A parish council member recalled, "Fr. Murphy encouraged lay-involvement, but in matters of policy making, the final decisions were his prerogative. In the end, the pastor signed the checks!"

The "Friends of St. Mary's" was instituted by Fr. Murphy as a means to fulfill St. Mary's financial assessment to the "Archbishop's Stewardship Appeal." It was a means to raise funds without having to resort to personal appeals or door to door canvassing. The minutes of the Parish Council reveal that in March 1970 the altar rail was removed and in June, St. Mary’s received permission to institute a Saturday evening Mass which would meet Sunday obligations. At this time the parish council voted to discontinue the collection of seat money.

In March 1972, "The Holy Outlaw" a film about Daniel Berrigan and his activities involving the Vietnam War was shown in St. Mary's hall, and a fast was broken with a simple meal of rice and cheese. The meeting was held in an effort to educate parishioners about the situation in Southeast Asia.

St. Mary’s women were invited into the ministry of Lector in 1972. The following year 1973 marked the demise of the Parish Council. The parish council was having difficulty attracting candidates. A statement was issued, "The promise of an on-going parish council seems fruitless unless we can muster up the support and assistance needed to fill the vacating positions."
Associate pastors under Fr..Murphy included Reverends William Devine, James Barry, and Stephen Koen.

In November, 1976, Rev. William F. Kenneally was installed as pastor. Associate pastors under Fr. Kenneally were Reverends Arthur Flynn, Robert Wolongevicz, Joseph Carney, and Joseph Welsh.

In 1976 men were invited into the ministry of Eucharistic Ministers and women were invited into the ministry of Eucharistic Ministers in 1978.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Foxboro Catholics: 1930s, WWII, & Catholic Post-War Migration 1928-1954

Rev. Bernard O' Rourke's was ordained on April 5, 1929 and his first assignment was St. Mary’s in Foxboro. In a letter, he wrote, "St. Mary's was my first permanent appointment. At the time Fr. Butler was the pastor. In addition to the parish, we had the Foxboro State Hospital with over 500 patients. The demise of the great hat industry took place while I was there. The only other industry was the Foxboro Company. I fondly recall the little grey church situated on a side street."

In January 1930, the Foxboro Reporter covered the St. Mary's basketball team which played teams from Mansfield, St. Patrick’s in Cambridge, and Holy Cross Cathedral of South Boston. The games were played in Grange Hall. In the game against Holy Cross, the newspaper informed the townsfolk, "The local boys were unable to make a single point in the last half, losing 27 to 10, for the visitors were bigger and older than St. Mary's team. " That spring, the St. Mary's Minstrel Show was held in the Odd Fellows Hall. The show, which included a chorus and two short plays, "... was put on by fifty snappy young people."

In the 1930's, whist parties were the social activity and fund raising event for the parishioners of St. Mary's. The whist parties were commonly held in Grange Hall and the high school auditorium and players commonly numbered between thirty-five to sixty foursomes. Each fall, parishioners looked forward to the annual "Turkey Whist Party." Over two hundred participants would compete for gifts of dressed turkeys, grocery baskets, fruit, vegetables, sugar and cakes.
Parishioners who enjoyed these games were Frances and Helena McDonald, Helen Devine, Emily Gaudet, Mary Rattigan, Thomas McNamara. Also Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Kirby, Mrs. Walter E. Clarkin, Mrs. George T. McGrane, Mrs. Vincent Igo, Mrs. Katie Welsh, Mrs. Garrett Spillane, Mrs. Ambrose Curtain, and Mrs. Daniel Ryan. A few years later the names of John Gaudet, Sadie McAuliffe, Ray Smith, Walter Lillyman, Agnes Brown, Bertha Fitzpatrick, Ruth F. Clark, Mrs. Timothy Ahern, John Monahan, Charles Sutkus, Frank Hughes, Mrs. William Hearn, Catherine Rattigan, Mabelle Kelly, and Novella Adams were mentioned. As well as Walter Kennedy, Charles S. Greene, Bartholomew Golden, Eunice Upham, Eleanor Kennedy, Annabelle McDonald, Theresa Roche, Mary Brunelle, Alice Heffernan, Mary McNamara, and Mildred Saunders. Also appearing were Francis McGrane, Charles Brackett, Kenneth Cole, Edward Comeau, Herbert Cook, Albert Kelly, Stephen Kennedy and Gerard Kennedy, Daniel McFaul, James McCole, John Lynch, Anthony and Frank Metrano, Thomas McGrane and Joseph Sweeny.

In November 1930, Fr. Michael Butler passed away having been ill for several years. Rev. Rudolph M. Tuscher was assigned as pastor. Fr. Tuscher's first order of business was to notify the archbishop that "One of the curates can be relieved of an assignment for there is not enough work to keep three active men busy." Rev. Tuscher's tenure as pastor experienced quite a number of associate curates being assigned and reassigned to St. Mary's. The curates include Reverends Joseph B. O'Brien, Thomas. P. Connolly, William. J. Riley, Philip G. Hennessey, James J. Rafferty, George E. Murphy, and Edward F. King.

In a letter, Rev. Edward F. King recalled, "How can a priest ever forget the first parish in which he serves? I arrived, a South Boston boy, fresh with the oils of ordination on his fingers heads for St. Mary's in Foxboro. Curates were not allowed to have cars, so I arrived on the Providence train and was met by Fr. Rudolph Tuscher. He had a reputation of being tough and I was afraid of him. Curates had to be in every night at the rectory at 9PM. The State Hospital had to be covered by the curate and I heard all confessions at State Hospital. Fr. Tuscher didn't want to go. It was a beautiful community, lovely people whom I will never forget, the Bagleys, Cooks, Kennedys, and many more. I remember taking over the cemetery from laymen for the archdiocese. Then Fr. James Dowling came and we fixed it all up. One more memory I have. Over the pastor's objection I started a parish football team, consisting of all ex-high school players. Oh' one more thing. Would you believe we ran a musical show in the old church, with the sanctuary as the stage and everyone came. The Catholic faith at that time was not that strong and not that warmly received by non-Catholics.

In September 1935, John P. Gaudet was installed for third term as Grand Knight of Mansfield Council, Knights of Columbus and in November, he was appointed Deputy High Ranger of the Massachusetts Catholic Order of Foresters.

In the 1930s, "Penny Sales" were the activity of the young ladies of the parish. They would canvass the parish to solicit prizes. The event was commonly held in the in the high school. There would be a master of ceremonies and auctioneer who would offer for sale the foodstuff, aprons, towels, and fancy work that was gathered by the young ladies. The auctioneers were Joe Kennedy and Gerald Hennessey. The ladies included Eleanor Kennedy, Bertha Fitzpatrick, Rita Kennedy, Mary Grieb, Eleanor Harrison, Mary Brunell, Loretta Brown, Annabelle McDonald, Theresa Roche, Jeanette Ouimet, Anna Johnson, Mary McGrane, Frances McCarthy, Rita Welch, and Louise McAuliffe. Also Mary Brown, Theresa Brown, Peggy Cook, Mary Gaudet, Mildred Monson, Sophie Novack, and Marjorie Saunders.

In November 1939, a "Catholic Girls Club" was organized. The officers were: president, Amy Cook; vice president, Anne Kennedy; secretary, Marie Bagley; and treasurer, Angela Dorsey. Fr. Tuscher was the spiritual advisor. The young ladies were under the direction of Mrs. Bertha Fanning and Miss Loretta Brown.

Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve 1940, was an evening of traditional music under the direction of the organist C. Robin Maker. He was accompanied by violinist Rosalie Dolan; soloists Mary Dolan and Theresa Brown; soprano Helen Dugas; tenor Douglas Brunell, and baritone Leo Brunell. During World War II the regular 7 a.m. Mass was rescheduled to 7:30 a.m. in order to enable those going away for the day and especially for those working on defense jobs.

In 1943, Fr. James P. Dowling was appointed as pastor of St. Mary's. He is fondly remembered, "for the consolation he brought to those afflicted by the war." Previously he had served for twenty-two years at Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Jamaica Plain. In 1943, the parish celebrated his Silver Jubilee celebration of his ordination. Over 500 parishioners and friends gathered at the high school for the occasion. Jeremiah F. Sullivan was chairman for the event and the musical program was under the direction of Mrs. Joseph K Lynch. One of the highlights of the evening was the chartering of a newly organized Boy Scout Troop 37. The troop was presented its charter by Old Colony Vice President Rex A. Bristol. Mr. Joseph McNair , chairman of the troop committee accepted the certificate, and promised to provide the troop with quarters and assistance. The newly organized troop had been initiated by Fr. Dowling, with his assistant curate, Rev. Joseph P. Reilly as his representative. The troop scoutmaster was Vin Igo, with Roy Brackett as assistant.

St. Mary's Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) was organized in November, 1945. Active members at this time included, Geraldine Urban, Richard Hennessey, Janet Spillane, John Gaudet, and John Lynch. The stated purpose of the national organization was, "To enrich and deepen the soul-life of boys and girls, young men and young women and to advance their temporal interests. It enables youth to sanctify their souls and insure their salvation by bringing them closer to God and their church through leisure-time programs which include spiritual, cultural, social, and recreational."

During the Fall 1945, Archbishop Richard Cushing opened a membership drive for the Holy Name Society. Under the direction of Fr. Dowling, a new chapter was organized with over 150 members. The officers were, President, Stephen J. Kennedy; Vice President, Albert D. Kelly; and Secretary, Walter Lillyman. The executive committee was included Vincent M. Igo, John Lynch, Mitchell A. Mandin, Charles S. Green, Garrett H. Spillane, Joseph Bagley, and William T. O'Connor.

In 1947, Rev. James A. Hicks, was appointed as pastor of St. Mary's. Fr. Hicks’ seven years pastorate was highlighted by several accomplishments. He was instrumental in the fencing and landscaping of St. Mary's cemetery and under his guidance the basement of the church was remodeled to include kitchen facilities. Fr. Hicks established both the Woman's Guild and the Christian Youth Organization (CYO)

In April, 1947, the CYO, with an open invitation to all teenagers who care to participate, staged a minstrel show at the high school auditorium titled, "Nice Going." The show was under the direction of Fr. Arthur Dunnigan and the climax of the evening was reached when the "Bathing Beauties of the Gay Nineties," arrived on stage.
The officers of St. Mary's Guild at this time included, Mrs. Alfred D. Ouimet, Mrs. Alice Barry, Mrs. Harry Plummer, Mrs. Pauline Shea, Mrs. Eula Kelly, Mrs. Joseph Donnoly, and Mrs. Katherine Mandin. The Guild was very active in parish affairs, especially the "Bridge and Whist Parties," under the direction of Margaret Ahern, Eleanor Kennedy, Mary McNair, Mary Holbrook, Regina Sweed, Eileen Dumas, Constance Welsh, Amy Cook, and Patricia Belcher; also Mrs. Martin Heffernan, Teresa Giovini, Jeanne Samuel, Connie Champagne, Barbara Durst, Madeline Morlock, Natalie Kerr, and Marge Johnson. The Guild held fashion shows, covered dish suppers and organized a "Blanket Club," and "Gracious Living Club." One of the Guild’s most popular guests was Roy Williams, a Mouseketeer of the Disney T.V. Show. At the time it was reported, "It took two policemen to handle the crush of Foxboro youngsters who thronged to Ouimets Drug Store to see the Mouseketeer."

At this time, Fr. Adrian O'Leary's was assigned to Foxboro. In a letter he wrote, "It was just after WWII and the parish was growing fast. We had the old church and it was bursting to the seams. Nuns came from Norwood and the Sisters of Mercy from Cumberland, R.I., for Sunday School. Fr. Hicks was the pastor. It was a busy three years."

In March 1948, a little known fact occurred. Tucked away in the archdiocesan correspondence files is a request by Fr. Hicks that brought much joy to parishioners then and now. The pastor received permission to install rubber kneelers!

In August 1949, Mr. Charles F. Rafferty, Foxboro’s "street sweeper" and a descendant of the original first Catholic family on Granite street, was honored by Foxboro Reporter. "We believe that Mr. Charles F. Rafferty deserves to be congratulated for the conscientious manner in which he performs his daily duties. This time last year, the common was an untidy sore spot. Mr. Rafferty starts his rounds at 5 a.m., and by the time most of us are up and about, the common and the main streets have been made tidy and neat. Through his efforts, we can again look with pride upon the historic center of Foxboro."

In 1950, the officers of the Holy Name Society included, Joseph Donnelly, Joseph Pigeon, Mark Bagley, Guy Brackett, Joseph McNair, Paul Roche, Thomas Kennedy, John Ahern, Frank Corliss, William Kennedy, Donald Myers, and Emil Ferencik. A monthly Communion breakfast was the activity of the organization. Speakers included, Secretary of State, Mr. Edward J. Cronin and author David Goldstein; speakers from the prison system, an F.B.I. agent, and professional sports.

In November 1950, Fr. Robert J. Hankins, newly ordained, was appointed curate to replace Fr. Leary. He was very actively involved in the life of the parish; the spiritual director of the CYO chaplain of Boy Scout Troop #37 and the Mansfield Civil Air Patrol, as well as director of the altar boys. Fr. Hankins also instituted a very popular annual St. Patrick's show at the high school auditorium. The entertainment included Irish jigs, reels, and horn pipes, along with Houlihan's Irish band and dancers from Worcester. Mr. Alvin H. Ball directed the Foxboro String Orchestra.
During Fr. Hicks tenure, the Catholic population doubled. In 1954, Sunday Masses were celebrated at 7AM, 8:30AM, 10:30AM, and 11:30AM. Confessions on Saturday from 4 to 6PM and 7:30 to 9PM.

1954 On March 19, 1954 Fr. Hicks, in feeble health, passed away on the Feast of St. Joseph.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Foxboro Priests, People & Places 1901-1928

In April 1901, Rev. Thomas Norris was assigned as pastor to replace Fr. Broderick. Fr. Norris had been senior assistant curate at Church of the Sacred Heart in Roslindale. He had celebrated his silver jubilee eight years earlier. Before the month of December was out he had resigned his appointment due to failing health.

Rev. James W. Hickey immediately was assigned as pastor. Fr. Hickey was a colleague of Fr. Broderick. He was a native of Lowell and a graduate of Holy Cross College. He had recently spent eleven years as pastor of the mission of McCook, Nebraska, which includes all the territory as far west as the Colorado State line. According to the Foxboro Reporter, "Fr. Hickey appears to be a man who can not fail to win the esteem of his people. His entire ministry, energy, and ability have characterized his administration of affairs."

In November 1905, a reunion was held in the Grange Hall. Fr. Hickey and "corps of able assistants" delivered quite an affair for the parish The refreshments consisted an ice cream and tonic tables. Local parishioners provided the entertainment calling themselves the "Yankee Doodle Cadets" and the "Florodora Girls;" Walter Lillyman, Thomas Mullen and Walter McKenna performed as the, "Whistling Bowery Boys".

In 1907, Fr. Garret J. Barry replaced Fr. Hickey as pastor. Fr. Garret had formerly traveled extensively in Europe. He is particularly remembered for many lectures, illustrated with stereophonic views of his sojourns to the Holy Land, Rome, and Ireland.

In 1908 Cardinal William O'Connell expressed a desire to have a Holy Name Society organized in every parish of the archdiocese. The purpose of the organization is to promote reverence for the Sacred Names of God and Jesus Christ, obedience and loyalty to the Pope, and the personal sanctification and holiness of its members. In response to the Cardinal O’Connell directive, Fr. Barry hosted a parish mission in May and one of outcomes of the retreat was the establishment of a Society of the Holy Name for men of the parish.

Fr. Barry’s Irish roots were evident in the gala celebration of St. Patrick’s Day that occurred in March 1909. The celebration would be held in the Grange Hall. The entertainment included songs of Erin, a mind-reading exhibition, magic by Houdini's closest rival, the Great Fuller; a tale teller, and boxing exhibitions by John J. McCarthy, amateur heavy weight champion of New England and boxer John L. Cloney, boxing in the new and old styles.

May 1910, St. Dominic's Court, a local chapter of the Massachusetts Court of Catholic Foresters was established. The Foxboro Reporter reported, "Between 20 and 30 candidates for the new lodge instituted 'Court of Foresters" passed a successful examination, and several more applications are in the proper hands. The institution took place in the Odd Fellows hall. The obligation of the Order was taken by 24 applicants. The ceremonies were impressive, with delegations from Courts in North Attleboro, Stoughton, Attleboro, Canton, and Sharon in attendance. The officers included: Charles F. Green, George McGrane, Miss Evelyn Hearn, William Clark, John Evans, Wesley McGrane, Mrs. Mary Grenne, Joseph McGrane, and John Evans Jr."

Established in 1883, the initial purpose of the fraternal insurance organization was to assist impoverished immigrants struck by tragedy or families that lost their breadwinner. Typically, friends and neighbors collected money to keep survivors from starving and later for burial expenses. Those making burial collections gradually formed associations. Many times these associations became focal points for community life.

In an interview with the late Eula Kelly, she recalled, "The association was a fraternal insurance organization for women whose husbands were deceased, and the principles of the organization were, fraternity, unity, and true Christian charity. In the olden days many widows were left to the four winds of the earth! The goal in each area was to acquire a membership of 1,000, with the plan that when a member died, each of the others would contribute a dollar toward the $1,000 benefit of the widow."

On October 12, 1910, Columbus Day, through the lobbying efforts of the Knights of Columbus and Catholic politicians, was observed as a legal holiday in Massachusetts for the first time.
In May 1911, Fr. James O'Rourke assigned was as pastor of St. Mary's. Fr. O'Rourke had been nine years a curate of St. Margaret in Campello, Brockton, and was well known as an organizer and preacher. Fr. O’Rourke was considered a hero in the archdiocese at the time. Several years earlier he had rushed to a shoe factory fire near his parish. He arrived in time to witnessed the collapse of the building. Regardless of his own personal safety, he crawled into the burning pile of rubble and administered the Last Rites to dying employees trapped under the debris, badly burning himself about the arms and face.

In August 1912, the Foxboro Reporter described the festivities of the annual St. Mary’s Field Day that was held at Lakeview Park. Over a 1,000 people attended the event. "The attractions included boating, dancing, partaking of a baked bean supper, a midway, and a miniature minstrel show. A moving picture was also shown. Games included a two mile run, 100 yard dash, the shoe race, a three legged race, and games named African Dodger, Cane Board, and Chinese Laundry. The electric trolley cars made numerous trips to the park transporting people from Mansfield, Attleboro, Walpole, Norwood and Wrentham. When the last cars left the park at midnight they were crowded with a tired but happy hearted throng of parishioners who are loyal to their church and to their well-beloved pastor."

In March 1913, for the first time, St. Mary’s received the services of an assistant curate to assist the pastor. It was a sign that the spiritual needs of the parishioners and responsibilities pastor were increasing with the growth of the town and parish.

In June 1915 Fr. William J. McCarthy was assigned as pastor. The Reporter mentioned, "Fr. McCarthy motored over from West Lynn where he had been ministering for the past twenty years. His going away reception had earlier been attended by hundreds of former parishioners, who awarded him a purse of $1,500 for a parting gift." During his tenure, his responsibilities increased to include ministering to the Catholics in the Foxboro State Hospital, the State School for the Feeble Minded Children in Wrentham, and the John P. Holland Vocation School for Disabled Veterans in East Norfolk.

During World War I, Red Cross activities in cities and towns were of major importance. As the war progressed, the archdiocese promoted the importance of food production and conservation, with a campaign slogan "Food Will Win The War. In Foxboro, Fr. McKenna, the assistant curate, was in charged with directing the efforts of the local parish. Through a column in the Foxboro Reporter, he wrote, "Every person in town is urged to plant a garden...all tillable soil should be planted!" In a Memorial Day speech, Fr. McKenna stated, "Any man can be a warrior in the time of peace, but it takes a true soldier to don his uniform, shoulder his musket, and offer his life, in defense of his country's life and that of its people."

Employing his personal slogan, "Every Citizen of Foxboro a member of the Red Cross," Fr.McKenna and his parish committee of Joseph Metrano, D.A. Ouimet, E.A. Foley, Eugene Kirby, and James Brennan, canvassed every house in town.

During World War I, St. Mary’s Catholic Order of Foresters chapter, St. Dominic Court, commonly held harvest whist and dance socials to benefit the soldiers who had gone from Foxboro. Many of these fund raisers were hosted in the home of Mr. and Mrs. D. Alfred Ouimet. After the WWI, St. Dominic Court held a number of "poverty balls" in the Grange Hall and often the highlight of the evening were the prizes awarded for the "worst looking costume."
In January 1919, Foxboro Reporter reported it had received word that Frank Welch, 319th F.A.H. Field Artillery, died of wounds on October 31, 1918. In September 1921, the soldier’s body arrived for burial. The body lied in state in Memorial Hall and was reburied with full military honors in St. Mary’s Cemetery.

In July 1923, Rev. Michael A. Butler was assigned as pastor. Previously he had served as senior curate at Immaculate Conception in Everett. A number of accomplishments occurred under his leadership. Within two years of his pastorate the value of St. Mary's church increased in value from $6,000 to $30,000. This was primarily due to the improvements made to the church such as the erection of the massive cement steps at the entrance and the interior was completely redecorated and beautified. Because of the demand for pastor service from both the Wrentham State School the Foxboro State Hospital, and the Catholic mission in Wrentham, Fr. McCarthy requested a second assistant curate. The chancery granted the request along with approval for $6,000 of improvements to be made to the rectory to allow more room for the new assistant curate.

Later that fall, Fr. Butler commenced an earnest campaign to raise funds for a new church in Wrentham, raising $10,000 in the first year. A common means of raising revenue at this time were harvest festivals, social dances and weekly whist parties."St. Mary’s Field Days" on the common were also very successful affairs for raising revenue. Booths were set up throughout the village green, each representing different sections of the St. Mary's parish and the Wrentham mission. The festivities offered a musical concert, a children's picnic, a doll carriage parade and a variety of foot races including sack races, potato races, and shoe race.

During Fr. McCarthy's pastorate, from 1923 to 1933., nine assistant curates were assigned and reassigned including, Reverends J.D. MacEachern, J.B. Moore, E.J. Carey, W.E. Tierney, J.F. Bracken, J.J. Hughes, F.G. Shields, B.J. O'Rourke and W.P. Castles.

During the summer of 1926, a "Radio Concert and Dance" was held in the Grange Hall under the auspices of St. Mary's, to benefit the Wrentham mission. The stage was set up like the interior of a broadcasting studio and performers were introduced by an announcer who then "did their stuff" before a microphone.

In 1926, there was only one English missal available to Catholics laity and it was in very limited use. A historian described a lay person’s understanding of the Latin Mass during this era, "Before 1926, the laity sat at Mass in uncomprehending stupor - rising, kneeling, or sitting according to the movements of the priest, while the priest celebrating the Mass whispered the Latin words of the rite up against the a wall." After 1926 over 19 editions of English missals became available and the practice of following the priest's Latin in the English became widespread.

In 1927, the officers of St. Dominic Court were listed as, Mary J. Brown, Chief Ranger; Albert L. Belcher, Vice Chief Ranger; along with John Gaudet, Vincent Igo, William McAuliffe, Fred Brown, Mary Green, Nellie Walsh, and P. Francis McGrane.

A letter from Cardinal William O’Connell dated June 8, 1927 directed Fr. Butler to attend to the spiritual needs of a new prison colony established on land formerly the Norfolk State Hospital, to which Fr. Butler replied, "I will tend to the needs."

In December 1928, on land donated by Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Mahoney, the "neat new stucco St. Mary’s church," was completed in Wrentham. Foxboro’s priests and parishioners were no longer responsible for the Wrentham mission which, at that time, included the Catholics in Plainville and Norfolk.

A schedule of Masses at this time reveals the pastoral care responsibilities of the local area priests: Foxboro Masses at St. Mary's were 7:30AM and 10:15AM.; Wrentham Masses were held at 8:30 and 10:00; Foxboro State Hospital at 9:00AM and Wrentham State School at 8:30AM.. Sunday School was held in Foxboro at 2:00PM.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Banned from Singing, Dancing and Voting

The first two decades of the 20th Century was an era that witnessed women throughout the United States taking to the streets to demonstrate for equality in all spheres of social and religious activity. In Foxboro, these issues suffrage, dancing and singing were in the forefront of interest to the Catholic women of St. Mary’s.

Women Singing In Church

On November 22, 1903, a "motu proprio" was issued Pope Pius X in which he set forth new regulations for the performance of music in the Roman Catholic Church. These reforms reaffirmed the primacy of Gregorian chant, and at the same time, excluded women from singing in mixed ensembles with men. The following words from the "Motu proprio" which is a document issued by a Pope on his own initiative, caused a great deal of uncertainty, especially in the United States: "With the exception of the melodies proper to the celebrant at the altar and to his ministers, which must always be sung only in Gregorian chant and without the accompaniment of the organ, all the rest of the liturgical chant belongs to the choir of levites; therefore, singers in church, even when they are laymen, are really taking the place of the ecclesiastical choir. On the same principle it follows that singers in church have a real liturgical office and that, therefore, women, as being incapable of exercising such office, cannot be admitted to form part of the choir or of the musical chapel.

Apparently, there were many parishes in Massachusetts were the women continued to sing, and St. Mary’s in Foxboro was one of them. In March, 1909, the Foxboro Reporter reprinted a letter titled, "The Catholic View of Women Singing in Church" which was read during Mass. The priests and the parishioners were reminded, "The Holy Father has not given permission for women to sing in the choirs of the Catholic Churches, and the news that he has done so is entirely groundless...The instructions of Pope Pius must be obeyed literally in this country as well as in other countries. The singing of women must not be continued."

Women Dancing

During this same era, the Vatican also issued concerns about dancing, especially the "Tango." It appears the Church had no problem with dancing as long as the couples stood apart and hardly, if at all, held the partner's hand. But the 20th Century ushered a new, modern style of dancing which was regarded by moralists as fraught, by their very nature, with the greatest danger to morals.

In January 1906, the Foxboro Reporter published the contents of a letter written Archbishop John J. Williams, "On the Evils of Dancing, " which was read during Mass at St. Mary’s. The article reported the pastor also preached a sermon the same theme; "The letter and the sermon apparently was met with consternation for many of the youth of the parish enjoyed the pastime. Among other things the letter said ‘The world may sneer at such teaching, and call our denunciations exaggerations and unreasonable exactions without solid foundation.’"

In 1913 , the "Tango" raised the level of the Vatican’s pronouncements against dancing to a frenzy. In fact, the Tango was considered by some to be so scandalous that it was outlawed by both Church and civil authorities. Because of the way partners held each other, the dance was considered too risque' and "an offense against God.". On November 20, 1913, the Vatican instructed that the Tango was "an immoral dance and consequentially is prohibited to all Roman Catholics."

The September 5, 1914 Foxboro Reporter reprinted an article from the Canton Journal, "All Catholic organizations of the town have voted to discontinue public dancing for one year. This is made in the hope that human decency, if given a little time, would reassert itself and after a year dancing might be resumed free from its present day disgraceful exhibitions."
Women Suffrage

On January 2, 1913, the National Woman's Party was founded by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns as an auxiliary of the National American Woman Suffrage Association for the exclusive purpose of securing passage of a federal amendment. The party generated a new enthusiasm throughout the United States for the cause of women suffrage. On March 3, 1913, the day preceding President Wilson's inauguration, over 8,000 suffragists paraded in Washington, DC, organized by Alice Paul. Unfortunately the suffragists were jeered and mobbed by abusive crowds along the way. The 1913 proposed constitutional amendment to the U. S. Constitution providing woman suffrage was soundly defeated.

Undeterred, on January 12, 1915, a suffrage bill was brought before the House of Representatives but was lost by a vote of 174 to 204. Soon after, on March 27, the Foxboro Reporter reprinted an article published in the Boston Catholic Pilot, titled, The Catholic View of Women's Suffrage, "Whatever, then may be the outcome of the present movement for women's emancipation this assertion cannot be challenged. Any attempt to force women from her natural sphere of activity to place her in rivalry with man in the rude business of life can only end in disaster. Twenty centuries of Christian civilization have surrounded her with charms which are the secrets of her dignity and her power. Any attack upon these endowments must end eventually in the return of the Amazon to assume the place now held by Christian womanhood."
In the Mount Holyoke College Archives there is a letter dated April 1915 from Miss Hortense Hubbard to her parents. She describes her mixed feelings and attitudes toward women suffrage at this time, "Yesterday was "Suffrage Day" and after chapel a girl dressed in white, beat a drum, and there were all sorts of signs around about suffrage. On the lawn between the Library and Mary Lyon Chapel they had a table where they distributed papers and tried to get people to join the society up here. Cornelia did, but I didn’t. Late in the afternoon Miss Marks, one of the faculty, went around campus with her dog, a collie, and around his neck was a basket of jonquils in it and they were selling them for the benefit of the suffrage. But I wouldn’t buy one, because I am not ready to ally myself with the suffragettes, although I think they have some arguments. For instance last night Cornelia was trying to convince Dorothy Richardson about suffrage. Something was said about the Catholics and Cornelia said that the head popes & priests etc., don’t favor it because, that they realize it will mean more of an education and an enlightenment for the women, and they don’t want it. Is that true? I didn’t happen to get any of the papers that they distributed, but Cornelia did and maybe she will let me send them to you, if you will send them back…."

On January 10, 1918, a bill was brought before the House, and again on February 10, 1919. The former when put to the vote, was two votes short and the latter was one vote short, necessary for the two-thirds majority. Finally, in the summer of 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was an accomplished fact, and the Presidential election of November 1920, was therefore the first occasion on which women in all states were allowed to exercise their right of suffrage.

By the beginning of the third decade of the 20th Century, Foxboro Catholic women were singing, dancing and voting!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Foxboro Catholics 1844-1858 Saddlebag Masses & Horseback Priests

The earliest record of Mass being celebrated in Foxboro was on November 30, 1844. It was on this date, that a missionary Catholic priest married Michael Rafferty and Mary Lyons. Michael was an iron and brass molder, and both he and Mary were born in Ireland. Mary was the daughter of James and Mary Lyons. James Lyons is remembered as one of the first two Catholic families who bought land and settled in Foxboro.

An interesting side bar of historical note. James, who died on February 14, 1846, and Mary are buried along side each other in St. Augustine’s Cemetery in South Boston, the first Catholic cemetery in Boston, establish in 1818.
Throughout the rural towns where the Catholic Irish settled,, the Catholic Sacraments of Baptism, Holy Communion, Marriage, Confession and Last Rites were celebrated by missionary priests on horseback. Between the years 1831 and 1850 these rites almost always occurred in homes. Prior to the late 1840s Irish Potato famine migration, the few Catholic families in rural Massachusetts times were widely scattered.
What was it like to be Catholic in Foxboro with no church and dependent on the infrequent, once or twice a year visit of a missionary priest?. First of all the visit of the priest would have been announced ahead of time in order that all the Catholic families had an opportunity to be present for whatever spiritual needs or Sacraments that required a priest. Newborns would be presented to receive baptism, betroth couples came to be married, and the sick to be comforted by the prayers of the priest.

The usual procedure, when the priest came, would be first a hot supper. After the meal it was common for the men to gather with the priest for a smoke and conversation. As the evening progressed a room would be cleared for the priest to hear confessions in preparation to receive communion the following morning. During the evening the parlor would be prepared for the Mass on the following morning. The makeshift altar, usually a simple wooden table, would be arranged with great care, decked with the finest linens and laces brought from Ireland. These precious items were usually carefully stored in the large sea-chest, in which they would be folded and replaced after the service, for the next occasion. Also the rules of fasting, nothing to eat or drink were in effect after midnight. Not a morsel of food nor taste of water before the reception of the Eucharist. This fact was the principal reason for Mass being celebrated between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. The missionary priest would take from the saddlebag his leather traveling Mass kit from which came the paten, chalice, stole, a purificator, crucifix, candles, a pyx and reliquary, a rosary, wine and water cruets, and an oil supply. After Mass a hearty breakfast would be served and time allowed time for religious instruction, marriage preparation, and any other matter that may require the attention of the priest.

During this era, the few Catholic households in Foxboro were headed by Irish-born laborers. In addition to the foundry, other industries that employed Irish Catholic laborers were the straw hat manufactory, the steam mill on Gilmore Street, a dye house on Cocasset Street, the tin and sheet iron works in the basement of Friendship Block on the corner of Granite and Main Streets, and the paste board factory on Baker Street. During these years Foxboro witnessed a transformation of the labor work force, as immigrant workers came to replace the native born in virtually every production task, and as the Irish Catholic population increased the demand for resident priests and the construction of churches followed suit.

In 1851 a parish was created in Canton under the care of Reverend Michael O'Laughlin.with instructions to provide for the mission stations in Easton, Stoughton, and Foxboro. Soon after, in 1853 the Easton mission was separated from Canton and Fr. Aaron Roche was placed in charge with mission stations Bridgewater, Mansfield, Wrentham and Foxboro. At this time, Mass was celebrated in the home of Richard Gorman (116 Central Street) until growing numbers required the Catholics rent larger meeting rooms, including the Odd Fellows Lodge, the Cocasset House, and eventually the new Town Hall.

Finally, on May 2, 1859 Bishop John Fitzpatrick designated the Foxboro Catholic community a parish under the spiritual care of Fr. Michael X. Carroll. The new Foxboro parish included the Catholics residing in Mansfield, South Walpole, Franklin, Wrentham Center; North Wrentham (Norfolk) and the "Furnace" area of south Easton.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Foxboro Catholics: Perserverance & Rebuilding the Faith 1872-1879

The year 1872 realized two important events for the Foxboro Catholic community. The congregation purchased land for a cemetery and the arrival of Fr. Francis Gouesse as pastor.

On July 12, 1872 Abraham H. Drake deeded four acres of land on Mechanic Street to the "Catholic Burial Association" of Foxboro in consideration of four hundred dollars. This association was a group of Catholic men whose names appear on the deed. The names included; Patrick O'Brien, Charles Rafferty, Thomas Tiernay, John Welch, Ned O'Neil, Patrick White, Charles Fay, William Clark, and Thomas Carpenter. The property was purchased with money by subscriptions. Prior to this time Foxboro Catholics were buried in the Catholic cemetery located in Canton.

In September, the Dedham Transcript reported, "Surveyors have been at work this week at the southerly corner of Mechanic and Chestnut Streets generally known as 'the four corners'. Surveyors have bee at work this week and the plot has been staked off in suitable lots and paths. It is probable that there will be but a short time elapse before the work is completed."

On October 7, 1874, the Catholic Association deeded the cemetery to Bishop John J. Williams in consideration of ten dollars. The transfer was witnessed by a different group of men from the association including; William Igoe, Daniel Welsh, Dennis McCarthy, Thomas White, Timothy McCarthy, John Scully, William Curtin, David Kersey, Patrick Proctor, Thomas Rafferty, and William Regan.

In 1872 the Diocese of Providence was created from the Diocese of Boston. The new diocese included not only the whole state of Rhode Island, but the Massachusetts' counties of Bristol, Barnstable, Dukes, Nantucket and Plymouth. Since Fr. Gillick’s parish was situated in North Attleboro, located in Bristol County, the care of the Foxboro mission was assigned to a new priest. On November 11, the mission stations of Franklin, Wrentham, Foxboro, and Walpole were assigned to Fr. Francis Gouesse who took up residence in Cocasset House in Foxboro.

Father Francis Gouesse was born in Laval France in 1817, and ordained in 1845 in New Orleans. After several years' service here, he volunteered for the frontier missions of Michigan and Indiana. Later he worked in New York until ill health forced him to return to France for a brief period of rest. In 1869, at the age of 52, he came to Massachusetts to relieve the pastors of several parishes, especially those of Southbridge and Randolph. In Marlboro he organized a flourishing French Canadian parish and built a church. Almost immediately upon the completion of this came his assignment to Foxboro where Father Gillick had begun the construction of a new church. It then fell to Father Gouesse to complete the church.

In a letter dated February 25, 1873, to Bishop John J. Williams, little more than three months into his new assignment, Fr. Gouesse described the conditions of the faith in Foxboro at this time. "My Lord, Saturday last I tried hard to reach Franklin, and when three miles of that place I was obliged to turn back. Sunday morning, tried again and this time worse than before. We could not travel but three and half miles. Felt bad, very bad, having not as yet disappointed any one of any people... As to Foxboro, cannot say much about it. They have a church that is no church. You would hardly believe is to be possible to say Mass in such a place, during such a Winter. And still, we had it regularly every other Sunday. On that church $950 dollars debt. Nothing for the Divine Service. About 55 families and 12 Turn Coats. The burning of their church and the loss of the insurance money is as fresh in their minds, after 11 years, as if it happened yesterday. They are a demoralized people. No account about anything was ever given them. Even about their present church, they do not know anything. Money was collected for it, and was never heard of it. There must have been some terrible times over here. They make me feel bad, very bad, but they do not take me by surprise, knowing for a long time too how things go in too many places. Will try hard to do what I can for them, you may rely on it. For the present, everything looks gloomy, very gloomy indeed, and every where too. I will try to do something out here, in my opinion they deserve it."

In August, describing the summer plans of resident ministers in town, the Mansfield News reported, "Reverend Father Gouesse, of the Catholic church in Foxboro, does not appear to be blessed with such a revivifer as a vacation - he is the Pastor over four different churches and holds services in Foxboro upon alternate Sundays."

In October, the Foxboro Times reported, "The Sacrament of First Communion was administered to the students of the Foxboro Sunday School. As a sign appreciation, one of the students, Master Willie Heath, presented Fr. Gouesse with a double German students lamp and ink stand. In return Fr. Gouesse commended Mrs. Mary Kirwin and Mrs. Mary Ann Heath for their work with the children." Fr. Gouesse’s ecumenical spirit was described in the article, "Many Protestants who never before entered a Catholic church were present or spectators to the administration of the Sacrament of Confirmation to a number of adults and youths."

In his 1873 annual report Fr. Gouesse described to the bishop the local conditions of the Catholic faith. "Catechism in Foxboro, Franklin, and Walpole, average attendance about 50-70. Two Altar Societies in Franklin and Foxboro. Churches everywhere, Walpole and Wrentham excepted. The whole of the above my doing. There are no mortgages on any of the buildings and there is no parochial house anywhere. One cemetery in Franklin. No other real estate belonging to the Church, save in Foxboro, a piece of land for a cemetery, unencumbered, but of no profit. The Foxboro Church is insured for $3,000 There are no pew rents. Therefore I make my living well by hard working the midst of very good people."

The consecration of the Catholic cemetery took place in October 1874. The Foxboro Times. Reported, "Yesterday will be remembered long by the Catholics as the day when, by notion of their Church, their new cemetery became holy ground....The plot was improved on as time and means would allow....a substantial fence and a large and well-built receiving tomb, along with walks and avenues being prepared. A large wooden cross was raised in the center. The consecration services principally took place at the foot of the cross, and were conducted by Rt. Reverend Bishop Williams assisted by Reverend Father Sheridan of Taunton, and Fr. Francis Gouesse. The ritualistic services were entirely in Latin. The Bishop wore the biretta and stole, commencing with the Litany of Saints, the assistants making the responses....At the close of this part of the ceremonies the Bishop, with assistants, perambulated the grounds, sprinkling them with holy water and upon his return the exercise closed with prayers."

The Bishop credited the parishioners, "for their successful efforts procuring a place for their dead. Their bodies would lay until Christ should come with his cross borne before him, calling the quick and dead to judgement, and they should so live as to meet those friends in the Father's kingdom...This is holy ground, God's acre to pray for themselves and for the souls of their friends there buried. The ground is your charge to watch over and protect. It is for the burial of those who die in the faith and none others and you should in no way desecrate it yourselves or allow it to be desecrated by others."

A side bar of historical interest. A December 18, 1874 editorial in the Foxboro Journal revealed the Yankee bias to the local celebration of Christmas. "The teachers and pupils of the public schools will not have Christmas week for play. A vacation now would be a great loss to the children who are just getting under way. Having two weeks between the terms at Thanksgiving, we think it far better than so many holidays."

On February 12, 1875, Boston was raised to an archdiocese, and Bishop John J. Williams was elevated to an archbishop. In a region where scarcely thirty years before there had been but 68,000 Catholics, one bishop, and a score of priests and churches, there were now an archbishop, five suffragan bishops, over four hundred priests and churches, and about 863,000 Catholics.

The 1876 Norfolk County Manual nicely summarizes the status of the Foxboro Catholic congregation at this time, "St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church. Organized in 1872 - Pastor, Rev. Francis Gouesse, settled November 17, 1872. Number of members, 250. Superintendent of Sunday School , Mary Kirwin; two teachers, twenty-five students. Also pastor at St. Patrick’s in Franklin, organized 1872. Settled November 17, 1872; 500 members. One building worth $2,500 and land valued at $400. "

As mentioned earlier, in 1873 the Foxboro Catholic community had begun constructing a new church building. For a variety of reasons the construction proceeded very slowly and four years later, in 1877, the building was still unfinished. In July, the Mansfield Times reported that a meeting of the members of the Catholic church was held for the purpose of forming an organization which was intended to, "more thoroughly unite the people as to the best manner of conducting their financial affairs."

In September another meeting was held attended by the entire congregation. It was a meeting to plan and pray for God’s guidance to secure the resources necessary to complete the building of their church. Two days later the church was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.
The Mansfield News reported on the conflagration. "During the shower which occurred on Monday last, the Catholic Church in Foxboro was struck by lightning and, owing in part to its unfinished state, it being built of wood and unplastered, was within the space of half an hour entirely consumed. Our Catholic friends seem to be particularly unfortunate with reference to their church matters. In 1862 their church building was destroyed under circumstances which caused many to think the fire of incendiary origin. This time, however, there is no question as to the cause of the conflagration, as the bolt was seen to strike the building by several persons..." The article inferred that the were some doubts to the status of the insurance policy, but it was determined that the Fr. Gouesse had in fact taken out a policy to the amount of $3,000.

In April, 1878 the Mansfield News reported, "Early in the spring the Foxboro Catholics began the rebuilding of their church on the original location. It is to be rather smaller than were either of the two previous ones, as it is to be 32 feet wide, 53 feet long, having a capacity to seat 300 worshipers. The cost, without furniture is estimated at $2,000."

In August, The Mansfield News reported, "The Catholic Church is completed and looks neat and substantial. The society has shown an abundance of perseverance in erecting a third edifice and we hope they may be permitted to enjoy the privileges offered in the present structure many years." The article mentioned that the church, "will not be formally dedicated at present, if at all, although Mass will be celebrated there for the first time next Sunday forenoon at 8 o'clock prompt. Rev. Fr. Griffin of Franklin, who has been assigned to this place temporarily, will be celebrant."

Throughout 1878, the demands of caring for four parishes began to task the health of Fr. Gouesse. He implored upon the archbishop to give the mission of Foxboro to another priest. In February 1879, Foxboro became a mission of the new Catholic church in Franklin under the care of Rev. James Griffin.

Foxboro Catholics 1862-1871, The Difficult Decade

After the burning of their new church, on February 23, 1862, Foxboro Catholics went from the center of Catholic activity in the area, to a mission station on the fringe of the diocese.
The conflagration was the source of several lawsuits by parishioners against the pastor for services rendered in the building of the church. On March 17, 1862 a court case was filed in Norfolk Superior Court by parishioner John Garside against Fr. Michael X. Carroll John Garside. Garside owned a tin and sheet iron works shop that was located in the basement of Friendship Hall. "By virtue here of I this day attach all the real estate lying in Foxboro belonging to Michael X. Carroll. Also two furnaces, a lot of old iron and a lot of brick lying among the ruin of the Catholic Church, and afterwards I left a summons at his last and usual place of abode for his appearance at court."
The first attempt to revive the parish was in January 1863. Fr. Thomas Scully was assigned pastor. Fr. Scully had served as a chaplain to the 9th Regiment during the Civil War and been captured by the Confederates. He was released after contracting a serious fever, and was discharged for disability on October 31, 1862. While residing in Foxboro, Fr. Scully continued to serve the mission stations at Walpole, Wrentham, and Franklin. The work soon became too arduous for Fr. Scully and after only one month he returned to Boston. Immediately upon the departure of Fr. Scully the Foxboro parish became a mission of St. Mary’s in North Attleboro. Rev. Philip Gillick was the pastor of the North Attleboro church at this time.

Fr. Gillick was a remarkable itinerant missionary priest. He was ordained in 1827 and his first ten years as priest were spent as a missionary among the early church communities in North Carolina. In 1838 he transferred to Diocese of New York and was assigned to the parishes of St. James in Brooklyn and St. Paul in Harlem. He remained here until 1844 at which time he moved to St. Peter's in Belleville, New Jersey and ministered there for seven years. In 1852, during his Silver Jubilee year as a priest, he traveled to the Diocese of Hartford and was assigned pastor at Winsted, Connecticut. He served here until 1855 when he was assigned as the first resident pastor of Greenville, Rhode Island. Greenville is situated very close to the Massachusetts border and Attleboro, which included the area what would become North Attleboro in 1887, became a mission of Greenville.

On June 19, 1859 Fr. Philip Gillick resigned from his parish in Greenville and became pastor of the new St. Mary's Church that had been built under his care, located in what is now North Attleboro. Fr. Gillick was assigned the mission stations of Foxboro, Wrentham, Walpole, and Franklin. An interesting side bar is that, in honor of the mother church in North Attleboro, there is a St. Mary’s church in each of the mission towns today!

The annual reports submitted to the bishop by Fr. Gillick reveal the state of the churches in the mission towns. By far Foxboro was by far the poorest. Due to the burning of the church the congregation once again had to worship and celebrate Mass various private homes and occasionally in the local hotel in town, the Cocasset House. Fr. Gillick attempted to provide regular catechism classes for the children but soon abandoned the effort for two reasons. The children numbered about thirty and classes were held in private homes. Fr. Gillick wrote in his report of 1867, "the owners of which got annoyed by some of the children and would hold them no longer so they were discontinued." Fr. Gillick reported that he visited the Catholics of Foxboro about once every two months and the pew rents averaged fifty-five dollars a year.

During this era the diocese of Boston was comprised of 200,000 Catholics, 109 churches and 119 priests.

In 1868 Rev. Gillick reported that he had commenced with the clearing of the church lot and began the construction of a small chapel for the parish community. Catholic families tended to live in neighborhoods near the church lot. On March 7, 1870, Bassett Street was accepted by the town. Town records described Bassett Street, "It commences at Central Street and terminates at the terminus of Church Street, a corner of Catholic Church lot." This description means that Bassett Street actually was L-shaped. It began at Central Street and continued on what is presently a part of Carpenter Street to the Catholic Church lot.

In 1871 construction on a new church to replace the temporary chapel commenced. The August 26, 1871 issue of the Dedham Transcript, in an article titled, "What We Saw in Foxboro," reported, "The Catholics too are in the process of re-erecting their building, which was destroyed some years since, and I saw enough to convince me that in Foxboro, as everywhere else, their church will be handsome and well attended." Two months later, in the October 21 issue, the newspaper reported, "The Catholic Church is so far completed that services have been held in it."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Foxboro: Fr. Patrick H. Callanan, A Priest For All Seasons 1885-1890

Rev. Patrick H. Callanan was appointed pastor at Foxboro in March 1885. The Foxboro Reporter announced, "He has been seven years as a student with the Jesuit Fathers at Boston College. He has taken out his degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts, making the greatest record of any student who has ever passed through this college. By special favor and confidence of the Archbishop of Boston, he takes his place here though ordained a priest only five years since."

The material and spiritual state of the parish when he arrived in Foxboro is poignantly described in the official archdiocesan history, "Fr. Callanan found nothing but a weather-beaten church, no house, and almost no congregation, as the faithful where inclined to go to other places...The parish was in very unfavorable condition. The parishioners were at odds, the parish was heavily involved in debt, having lost two churches by fire, and the society was discontented and discouraged."

Fr. Callanan spared no time and effort to fostering the spiritual, educational and material foundations of his parish. The April 3 Foxboro Times reported, "For the first time Foxboro Catholics were to experience the joy of Holy Week liturgies. The Church was simply decorated with candles, flowers and evergreens. Good Friday witnessed the Veneration of the Cross. On Holy Saturday the Catholics enjoyed a service never carried out in Foxboro before. The liturgy included the blessing of fire and the lighting of the Paschal. The water for Baptisms was blessed, and some of which was distributed to the people.. On Easter morning a High Mass was celebrated for the first time." The article mentioned that Fr. Callanan "possessed a good voice for singing and intoning which made the service of great interest to both parish and visitor."

In May, the parishioners experienced "Catholic ceremonies never before seen in the church or the town." The crowning and dedication of the new statue of the Blessed Virgin was recorded by the Foxboro Reporter, "At the Catholic Church a peculiar but very interesting service was held...the crowning included a procession, hymns, children dressed in white garments, and the crowning of the statue by a child." A brief discourse during the ceremony reveals how Fr. Callanan took advantage of the teaching moments afforded by the ritual to educate his parishioners and townsfolk. Fr. Callanan explained, "A reason for the many ceremonies of the Church is that the heart is aided in its reception and appreciation of spiritual truths by the eye as well as by the ear."

The ceremony also afforded the pastor the opportunity to commence a campaign to raise the money necessary to broaden the financial base of the parish. Following the ceremony, a May Party was held in the Town Hall ballroom in aid of St. Mary's Church. It was reported, "Five hundred and twenty dollars was raised. The parishioners and friends enjoyed coffee, ice cream, and dancing to music provided by the Baker Brother's Orchestra. There were over fifty couples in the Grand March. Miss Kitty Walsh of Walpole was voted May Queen, with runner-ups Misses Ellie Kerwin, Nellie Igoe, and Alice Kerwin." An editorial in the Foxboro Reporter described the new hopefulness and enthusiasm, "...under the active administration of Fr. Callanan a new impetus has been given to the Catholic interests in town in which we trust will result in enlisting good work and regular church attendance by all members of the parish."

In June, the Foxboro Reporter described the Feast of Corpus Christi for its readers. "The object of this feast day was to give opportunity to the faithful to show their faith and veneration for the Blessed Sacrament. For the Feast of Corpus Christi an elaborate altar was set up on the rectory's grounds. It included flowers, candles, incense, and a procession from the church by Fr. Callanan, accompanied by altar boys. Hymns were sung and white garments worn. Benediction followed on the grounds." The article concluded, "The fundamental principle of the Catholic faith is the belief that Christ is truly and substantially present in the Blessed Sacrament."

Several weeks later it was reported that an appreciation party had been held on the rectory grounds, " show thanks to all those who gave their special service to the church.. The organ had been removed from the church and carried to the rectory lawn so both vocal and instrumental entertainment were provided. The lawn was decorated with Chinese lanterns, lawn settees, and tables with flowers."

During this era., church fairs and concerts were a common means to raise money for church construction and remodeling projects. The events usually offered music, entertainment and often a supper, with tables for raffles, handiwork, candies, ice cream, and other refreshments on which people would spend their money. Frequently one evening would be entirely devoted to dancing.
In November, the Foxboro Reporter described the first of many of Fr. Callanan’s fund raising activities. "Fr. Callanan is tireless in his labors for the interests of the church...he is busy arranging for an evening of entertainment to be given in the upper Town Hall. The evening will feature promenade concert and dancing which will follow the vocal exercises....for the occasion Fr. Callanan purchased a beautiful upright piano." The "Grand Entertainment" was described the following week, "A very fair house enjoyed an evening of songs, duets, trios, quartets, choruses, and instrumental pieces. Locals involved were Misses Annie M. Johnson, Maggie Clark and Alice Devine. The fair raised a sum of $450."

One year after his arrival, on April 15, 1886, Fr. Callanan announced his plans to remodel and improve both the church and its grounds. He stated, "The rugged condition of the grounds about this church and its somewhat commonplace character of the church edifice itself, the labors which we might say have caused 'the wilderness to blossom as the rose.'"

Several weeks later, the Foxboro Reporter once again described the May Devotion and Feast of Corpus Christi. "The annual May Devotion formed on the rectory grounds....little girls, young ladies, little boys, and young men formed a procession at the rectory. All the young ladies carried bouquets and baskets of choice flowers. The smallest of the little girls carried beautiful floral designs among which was noted a crown, cross, anchor, wreath and heart. Hymns were chanted, and they processed to the church. When the words reached ‘We haste to crown thee now’ Aggie O'Brien, assisted by Father Callanan placed a wreath of flowers on the head of the statue."

Fr. Callanan’s devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and his desire to instill a sense of communal confidence and pride in their Catholic faith was intimated in a sermon titled, "Christ truly and substantially present in the Blessed Sacrament. The foundation of the Catholic Faith." He told his parishioners, "The object of the feast is to give opportunity to the faithful to show their faith and veneration for the Blessed Sacrament. For this reason public processions are formed as an opportunity of showing faith and veneration in public."

In September, seizing the moment of enthusiasm and support for the material and spiritual well-being of the parish, Fr. Callanan announced that "Twenty-three feet would be added to the front of the church. The present front would be torn down and double doors and an eight foot vestibule added. New pews would be added, and a cupola will adorn the building." He informed his parishioners that a Catholic Fair would be held in the Town Hall in aid of the church building fund and for this event he had secured the upper and lower Town Hall for two weeks in February.

The months following the announcement were filled with activities in support of the event. The Christmas edition of the Foxboro Reporter informed its readers, "Preparations for the ten day Catholic Fair are progressing. Goods for distribution are pouring in, we may almost say, from all over the country, and shares in the distributions are being taken from as far west as New York and Albany."

The Foxboro Reporter detailed the success of St. Mary’s Catholic Fair that extended through eleven consecutive secular evenings, February 2 - 14. "A series of entertainments exceeding in the extent of its layout and in its successful results anything of like nature ever attempted in this vicinity and exhibiting also great, inventive and executive ability on the part of its originator, Fr. Rev. Callanan. Both halls of the Town Hall were secured, the lower being reserved for dancing whenever the upper hall was too crowded for the purpose, which apparently was the case upon several of the evenings. Over 6,000 admission tickets were issued. One of the most successful means of raising funds were the ‘voting contests’. A series of articles including a solid-gold headed ebony cane, a sewing machines, boys suit, doll, barrel of flour, a shooting gallery, and a gentleman's gold ring were set up as prizes. A list of nominations was voted upon for the various prizes. The qualified voter was anyone who with legal tender purchased ballots. The ballots could then be used as votes for any of the candidates on the nomination lists. Voters were encouraged to vote early and often. The results of the Fair were most impressive...."

Fr. Callanan’s devotion and commitment to the observance of the several holy Feast Days also extended to the strict observance of the rules of the season of Lent. Apparently his expectations were much stricter than the rules governing Catholic behavior up to this time. In a letter to the editor, Fr. Callanan wrote against the holding of public entertainments of any kind during the holy season of Lent, "As a Catholic priest I protest against it as contrary to every teaching and practice of our Society. No matter the nature of the entertainment, no Catholic is allowed to take part in or be present at it." Not only was dancing forbidden during Lent but Fr. Callanan used the opportunity to reiterate the Catholic view, "The same may be said of any Catholic who engages in Waltzing at any time. Waltzing is forbidden at all times.. The spirit that actuates the Christian during Lent, is nothing more than the spirit of respect for Christ and his approaching death on Good Friday."
Formal opening services of the remodeled church occurred on August 15, 1887. The Boston Globe reported, "Today, being the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven, was especially appropriate for the opening of the new St. Mary’s Church. There was a very large congregation present and the beautiful little edifice was taxed to its utmost." The Foxboro Reported described the church, " ornament to our beautiful little town...a church edifice, suitable to be called the House of God, and one worthy of the generosity and faith of his people...The expenses incurred were freely met by the people of the parish...the labor of sixty or more men and thirty teams, given for two weeks, who removed the boulders and roots which cumbered the surface. The area was then covered with 200 loads of gravel and fifty or more loads of loam. The altar was painted and the ceilings and walls 'kalsomized'. The church thoroughly painted inside and out. The importation of the statues of the Blessed Virgin and of St. Joseph form Munich and are called the finest in the diocese....Sixteen memorial windows of stained glass were presented by vestment cases and wardrobes for both vestries and two seven branch candlesticks were donated."

Soon after the formal opening a petition began circulating for a new town was between a point on Church Street, near the lumber yard of J.W. Carpenter & Son, to a point on South Street. The result of the petition was that on October 10, the proposed town way as laid out by the selectmen was unanimously accepted and was named Carpenter Street.

In November the Foxboro Reporter referenced the titles of sermons that were preached during a week long mission of "preaching and prayer" for the cause of temperance at the Catholic church.. The sermons were titled, Moral Evils of Intemperance; Temporal Evils of Intemperance; and Causes & Remedies." On Christmas Eve the newspaper reported that Fr. Callanan delivered a sermon during the vesper service, titled, "The true and false infallibility of the Pope."

In January 1888, Fr. Callanan established a Catholic Men's Lyceum for the men of his parish.
The object was, "The moral, mental, and physical improvement of the members." Rooms over the Union Market were secured for the lyceum "...that were fitted up with everything necessary for the amusement and well-being of the members. Harmless games were permitted. All the leading daily, weekly, and monthly newspapers were put on file. A dramatic class and glee club were formed." The lyceum was believed to offer "the educational and refining influence that will be the most useful and salutary means to reach and teach true manhood."

It is clearly evident from articles in the Foxboro Reporter that Fr. Callanan spent a great deal of time educating not only his parishioners but also the non-Catholic townsfolk on the tenets and religious practices of the Catholic faith. The March 10, 1888 Foxboro Reporter described a lecture delivered by Fr. Callanan in the Town Hall titled "Plain Talk or a Plea for Justice." Fr. Callanan told the gathering, "A fair minded community would give patient hearing to many points of Catholic teaching so frequently misrepresented." And that he spoke "...not as an apologist for the Catholic Church, for it had nothing to apologize for." The article informed its readers that Fr. Callanan "...was speaking not as a priest in his profession but as a Catholic, an American Citizen." The topics Fr. Callanan spoke on that evening included: Are Catholics allowed to read the bible?; Why does the Catholic Church use the Latin language in her services?; The true and the false infallibility of the Pope; Do Catholics worship images?; and Indulgences, What are they?

On May 6, 1888 Archbishop John J. Williams conducted dedication services at St. Mary's. Speaking about Fr. Callanan during his sermon, the Archbishop stated, "Through his efforts, by God's approval, Fr. Callanan had accomplished a great work, which would live and grow after him." That afternoon forty-three candidates received the Sacrament of Confirmation, three of whom were converts. Later that evening the Archbishop addressed the members of the men’s lyceum.

In the days before mass media and electronic communication the majority of Foxboro's townsfolk were depended upon their imagination to view the cities of Europe or the vistas of the United States. As a result, there was great interest in an exhibit that was held at St. Mary's church in late October. A Professor Turner of Boston brought an exhibit consisting of over one hundred views of European scenery showing on a mammoth canvass twenty-four feet square. The scenes included all the principal cities of Ireland, London, Paris, Liverpool, and many other European cities. The exhibit and lecture was a two night presentation. The second night was two hundred views of American scenery from Maine to California. The Foxboro Reporter mentioned, "One could not help but gain a wide knowledge of the beautiful and historic places in Europe and America as they were presented to the eye."

In April 1889 a second St. Mary’s Fair was held to pay down the debt incurred by the recent remodeling of the church. To promote the event Fair Bulletin was published and inserted in the Foxboro Reporter. The bulletin listed advertisers, committees, donors, gifts, and the fair program. As the planning progressed the candidates for the various voting contests were announced. The voting contest that was of the most interest was that for the "Magnificent Gold Head Cane". Apparently this contest was between local shops. Some of the shops represented were the Neponset Hat Works, Union Straw Works, Excelsior Straw Works, and H.C. Faughts Shop. Fr. Callanan personally pledged a grand complimentary concert and sociable in the Town Hall, to the employees of the shop who carry off the prize.

The candidates for the men’s gold watch were Jeremiah Kirby, Michael McNamara, Thomas Tierney, William J. Burke, Robert Kerwin, and John E. Clark. Mr. George Stone was entered by the employees of the Mansfield Straw Shop. The candidates for the ladies gold watch included Miss Jennie O'Brien, Miss Julia Kirby, both from Foxboro; other contestants from Wrentham, Mansfield, Cambridge, and Walpole. There was also a voting contest for a silver watch between four altar boys of St. Mary's: Tommy Gorman, Jerry Brennan, Albert McCarthy, and Daniel Brown. One of the amusements was a "shooting gallery" in the lower hall and the games included "Elevated Road, Pitchett, Champion Ball Player, and the Devil among the Tailor.

The Fair opened on Easter Sunday, April 22 and closed on May 1st. Transportation arrangements were made with the Old Colony Rail Road. A special train ran from South Framingham, stopping at stations in Sherborn, Medfield Junction, Medfield, Walpole, and South Walpole. There were free horse drawn barges from Mansfield, Wrentham, Medfield, and Walpole. The Foxboro Reporter characterized the fair as "Probably the greatest financial success of any event which ever occurred in Foxboro." The total amount of profit after expenses was $3,027.57, an amount that liquidated the parish debt. .

In November 1890, Fr. Callanan was reassigned as pastor of a church in Newton Lower Falls and on Thanksgiving morning he celebrated his last mass at Foxboro. The Foxboro Reporter stated, "The Catholic people of this town were never blessed with a pastor who has so won the hearts and confidence of his congregation."

On the occasion of his 10th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood, on December 18th, Fr. Callanan was invited back to Foxboro. He was greeted by the new pastor, and several parishioners. They proceeded to the church where they were greeted by a crowd gathered from Foxboro, Medfield, Wrentham, and other places. The Foxboro Reporter described the state of the Catholic community upon his arrival in 1885, "When he took charge the people were not united....Two churches previously destroyed by fire and the third could not properly be called a church, built on rocky, uneven land, and a back, hard street for travel."

The Boston Globe published Fr. Callanan’s comments to the gathering:
"There are chords of sorrow sometimes touched by passing events in a man’s life that are felt only in the recesses of his own heart. The mournful tune is there, audible to his own senses, full of feeling within, but yet not felt, not heard outside. There are many feelings of the human heart that are facts, and yet though real they can not be described in words, cannot be made manifest outside ourselves.
Such have been my feelings in leaving this my first parish. Here in Foxboro I was thrown upon my own resources, for the first time, here the first friendship between a pastor and his people were formed, here did I devote all of my energies of body and soul toward the erection of the first church since my ministry began. Ten years of that ministry is finished today, for on December 18, 1880 I was ordained a priest of God. You, my dear friends have had six of those 10 years of my ministry. They have been fruitful years. I feel that the influence of those six years has made you much better men and women, better children, better citizens, better Christians. And in turn, let me say, that your devotion to your church and your loyalty to me have made me a better man, a better priest.

I need not recount the past, only to remind you that I ever strove to build and equip and make more beautiful the two-fold church of God - the church material and the church spiritual. In the midst of all my labors for the up building of this material church, in which I address you tonight, I never failed to make every effort to hasten your progress in Christian knowledge, and to make your duties to God and to your neighbor go hand in hand with material work.

I found you six years ago a disunited, a discontented, and forgive me for saying it, a rather luke-warm people, and I found you without a church, fit to be called a house of God. I look on you tonight a happy, united, and practical Christian people, with a church worthy of your faith, worthy of your generosity, worthy of being called a house of God. I incurred debts of many, many thousands of dollars to leave here this monument of our joint labors, of our mutual sacrifices: but thanks be to God I leave it in your hands, and in the hands of my successor, not only free of every cent of debt, but with a surplus in its treasury. It will always be a pleasure to me to come back to Foxboro and say a word of advice, and counsel, and consolation to you; and I feel like a man returning to the home he has spent years to build and beautify,, when I return to this church.

I wish my successor here the same loyalty, the same generosity, the same love and esteem you have always shown me. I thank you all for your material token of esteem, and your words of kindness will ever bloom as forget-me-nots in the garden of my own soul."

Historical Note:

Rev. Patrick H. Callanan
Born February 4, 1856 in New York City, the son of Irish Immigrants, Michael and Catherine Callanan, natives of County Cork. In September 1870, at the age of 14 he entered Boston College. Received a bachelor’s of arts in 1887 and a master of arts the following year.

In September 1877, he entered St. Joseph’s Seminary in Troy, New York and on December 18, 1880 he was ordained. His ordination earned him the distinction of being the first person to graduate Boston College to be ordained a priest.

His first appointment was at the Parish of the Sacred Heart , East Cambridge and in March 1885 he was appointed of pastor of St. Mary’s, Foxboro.

In 1890 he was appointed pastor of St. John’s in Newton Lower Falls. In 1906 he established the mission of St. Paul’s in Wellesley Hills.

Fr. Patrick H . Callanan was a member of the first graduating class of 1877 of Boston College..
During his seven years at Boston College, Callanan achieved academic honors and was a leader of student activities . For three years in a row he won top honors in classics and French . He received second honors in poetry and the medal in mathematics in his sixth year and second honors in philosophy and the physics medal in his last year . In competitive efforts he won a $25 , prize (tuition was $60 a year) for best English composition, a $25 prize for reading, a $30 prize for the best thesis in Christian doctrine, and the prize for the best centennial ode in 1876, celebrating the nation's first century .

Active in debate, Callanan was an officer of the debating society for three years and was prefect
of the Sodality of Our Lady twice . One of Father Fulton's pet projects was the Foster Cadets, to which all students had to belong, and Callanan was the dominant figure in the student militia in his day, rising from corporal in his first year to captain and finally to the top rank of major from 1873 to 1876 .

He was the first Boston College alumnus to be named a pastor and was Boston College's first "College Historian". Twenty years after graduation, from 1896 to 1899, he published a series of reminiscences—mostly his own, but also some he collected from fellow alumni—concerning the early years of the College, from about 1870 on. These reminiscences were published in twenty articles in the student paper, The Stylus.

Boston College honored Father Callanan twice. In 1906 he delivered the baccalaureate address and in 1927, the year the first graduates reached their golden jubilee, Father Callanan was most deservedly awarded an honorary doctorate.

In May 1912, he was assigned pastor of St. Peter’s in Cambridge where he remained until his death in November 1933.