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Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish

Wishing all a very blessed Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary!

“And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” (Luke I:28)
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On November 24, 1910, headlines in the Boston press proclaimed the Dedication of the new Mary Immaculate of Lourdes’ Church. Clergy members from the Archdiocese and beyond traveled to witness the ceremony, congratulate pastor and parish, and admire the new edifice. The celebrant was Bishop George J. Patterson, PA, of South Boston. Rev. Fr. Thomas Flanagan of Medford was the deacon; Melrose’s Rev. Fr. Francis Glynn was the subdeacon, and former parishioner Rev. Edmund Daley of Jamaica Plain served as master of ceremonies. Rev. M. Lavelle from the Archdiocese of New York delivered the sermon. The church’s resident choir was supplemented by choristers of St. Patrick’s Church, Roxbury. The structure could not contain all the parishioners and visitors who had convened at the Church that morning.

It was reported that the new church was built at a cost of $150,000 (comparable to $3.7 million in today’s dollars). “Both Archbishop O’Connell and the preacher praised the energy of the pastor and the parish in obtaining such a notable addition to the churches in the diocese. The former said, in part: “It is rare that so much praise is really merited. This is a great work, done in such a short time by people of limited means.” He also praised the beauty of the building. Rev. Francis Lavelle, in his remarks, said that the members of the congregation had shown their devotion and loyalty in the fact that in less than two years a parish of less than 1500 souls had raised $30,000 in contributions.” (The Boston Globe, 24 November 1910, p. 11)

It is fitting that on a day dedicated to giving thanks to God for our blessings, we remember also the labor of love, faith and devotion of Fr. Timothy Danahy and the people of St. Mary’s parish.
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On this 100th anniversary of the WWI Armistice, we pay tribute to two former priests of our parish who served as chaplains during the Great War, Msgr. Frederick Allchin and Rev. William J. Farrell.

The military chaplaincy was in its infancy in pre-WWI years. General Pershing recognized the need for chaplains and sent representatives to recruit among archdioceses, seeking to muster one chaplain for every 1000 men. Boston’s William Cardinal O’Connell supported the request and sent six recruits. (Boston Post, July 27, 1918, p.3)

The role of the chaplain is described here:

“The chaplains in the First World War did not officially bear arms of any kind, at least those serving in the British and American forces. The faith and courage of these men of the cloth under the most trying and terrible circumstances carried them through. They were incredibly brave men who risked life and limb to minister to the dead and dying as the shells flew overhead, unafraid to rush ammunition toward the front or to drive an ambulance hell-bent away from the front, carrying the wounded to safety. When the need arose, some pulled the lanyard on an artillery piece, while others tossed grenades. They suffered the same terrors and privations as the doughboys they served; they dug the graves; they wrote the letters of condolence home.” (Sky Pilots: The Yankee Division Chaplains in World War I, by Michael E. Shay, p. xiv)

Dispatches from WWI’s Western Front relayed the heroism of Fr. William J. Farrell, who had enlisted into service in August 1917 with the rank of First Lieutenant Chaplain (he was later to attain the rank of Captain). He was attached to the Massachusetts Field Artillery and Infantry units of the “Yankee Division,” American Expeditionary Force, France. The fighting at Seicheprey was the fiercest battle the American divisions had experienced; they were vastly outnumbered and despite being repelled and incurring many casualties, these forces rallied to recapture the position.

As reported: “When the complete story of this engagement is told the bravery of the regimental chaplains will be one of the outstanding features. One of them, Fr. William J. Farrell of West Newton, Mass, went to the assistance of a battery when four of the American gunners were killed and carried up ammunition and helped to keep the gun working all Saturday night. He was injured but refused to have his wound dressed on Sunday morning until he had carried…one of his wounded comrades, to a dugout dressing station.” (Boston Daily Globe, Apr 26, 1918)

His actions are detailed further in this account:
“…In fact, he literally carried Cpl. Myron D. Dickinson of Battery F on his shoulders to the dressing station at Beaumont. Nearby, at another point during the fighting, he drove an ambulance full of wounded through a hail of fire at the notorious “Dead Man’s Curve.” After all the wounded of his unit were evacuated, he volunteered to deliver ammunition to an artillery section, where he, himself was wounded by shrapnel and had to be evacuated.” (Sky Pilots, p. 59)

His obituary recounts that along with his role as regimental chaplain, Fr. Farrell served as national chaplain of the Army and Navy Legion of Honor. He ministered to the soldiers in all the major battles on the Western Front: Aisne-Marne, Chateau Thierry, Meuse-Argonne, and St. Michel, and was beloved for his many acts of self-sacrifice and valor, giving the last rites to the dead and dying while living out his faith by example in dire conditions. For his actions, he was awarded the French Croix de Guerre.

“Just how a chaplain acted in the front lines was more important to the troops than a church service conducted in the rear. ‘A chaplain’s conduct at the front counts heavily with them; there, a chaplain proves his faith that there is an after world by his behavior under fire and in the face of war’s strain…[and he can]…win all the influence [he] may desire by an exhibition of calm and unflinching courage…’ This sentiment was echoed by long-time Chaplain Leslie Groves, who said that the ideal chaplain ‘is the one who lives with the men, enduring the same hardships and encountering the same dangers, who is ruled not by selfishness but by love for all men…who can speak when the time comes the words that will be listened to.’” (Sky Pilots, p. xiv)

For years Fr. Farrell suffered debilitating effects of nerve gas exposure he sustained while evacuating the wounded, and he passed away in 1933. (Fitchburg Sentinel, Feb. 13, 1933) In addition to serving at MIOL, he was assigned to parishes in Lexington, Lawrence, Wilmington, Groton and West Newton. He was active in the Newton Catholic Club and was esteemed throughout Newton, where reports of his selflessness at the Front confirmed his high regard.

(Photo credit: Sky Pilots: The Yankee Division Chaplains in World War I, Michael E. Shay, p. 59, reprinted from Kernan, History of the 103rd Field Artillery.)
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Last summer saw the passing of Anne Marie (Walsh) Coughlin (see Pastor’s Note, July 15, 2018), and we bid farewell to the last parishioner who had witnessed the dedication of the “new” church, Mary Immaculate of Lourdes, on November 24, 1910. Mrs. Coughlin fondly remarked how she had been “baptized with the bells.” The ceremonial blessing of the bells, described in the accompanying article clipping, took place on November 6, 1910, the day Mrs. Coughlin was born.

“According to the custom of the time, when new church bells were blessed, they were “baptized,” and given names as children are given names at their christenings. There are three “baptized” bells in our parish church of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes. The largest bell, the tolling bell, is christened “Gabriel” for the Archangel who announced the birth of John the Baptist to his father Zachary and announced the Incarnation to the Virgin Mary at Nazareth. The second bell is christened “Elizabeth” for the mother of John the Baptist and Mary’s kinswoman. The third bell, the “baby bell,” is christened “John the Baptist.” When Mary went to greet Elizabeth, at the sound of Mary’s voice, Elizabeth felt her own baby leap for joy inside her womb.” (Pastor’s Note, Parish Bulletin, July 15, 2018)

Like generations before us, we are blessed to be called together by these bells to worship our Heavenly Father.

(Article: The Boston Globe, 7 November 1910, p.6)
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1 month ago

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish

Today we remember with gratitude and prayers Rev. Timothy J. Danahy, who died on November 5, 1923. He was assigned to the pastorate of our former St. Mary’s Parish in 1891, and it was through his drive and foresight that Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Church was built.

He was born in Killarney in Ireland on December 8, 1846 and came with his parents to America to settle in Roxbury, MA. Fr. Danahy attended Boston College and graduated from Holy Cross College where he achieved distinction in the French language before attending St. Joseph’s Seminary in Troy, NY. He was ordained to the priesthood on December 23, 1877. A news account noted that Fr. Danahy had been in good health and active until a relatively short time before he died and described how “[d]uring his tenure as pastor he accomplished considerable in the parish. He was a disciplinarian at all times, strict to himself and those around him, and at all times a student. He was ever interested in the spiritual welfare of those in his charge and never spared himself in his efforts in behalf of his parishioners.” (The Boston Globe, 5 Nov. 1923 p. 6)

Fr. Danahy’s funeral took place on November 7, 1923 in this church that he built and loved. A requiem Mass was celebrated by Rev. Dennis Donovan for the children of the parish at 7:30 in the morning, followed by a solemn high Mass of requiem at 10:30am, attended by William Cardinal O’Connell who gave the final absolution. The church overflowed with local dignitaries, a large contingent of priests from the Archdiocese, and a legion of parishioners that extended onto the streets. Rev. Neal Cronin of Boston’s Cathedral of the Sacred Heart led a priests’ choir, with Rev. Oscar O’Gorman at the organ. Priests from the other Newton churches assisted in the celebration of the Mass. At Fr. Danahy’s specific request, there was no eulogy.

The pallbearers, ushers and Knights of Columbus escorts were devoted members of the flock tended to by their pastor; they have since gone to their rest and their names live on among our church’s memorials. A police escort led the cortege to the parish cemetery of St. Mary’s in Needham, where Fr. Danahy was buried in his family’s plot. (Boston Globe, 7 November 1923, p. 8; photos courtesy of Danahy family descendant Ed Galvin)
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1 month ago

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish

November is dedicated to the Holy Souls.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

(Photo of stained glass windows taken in the Church Basement.)
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Let us remember to pray for the faithful departed on this Feast of All Souls!

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.
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Have a blessed Feast of All Saints! ... See MoreSee Less

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Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish in Newton, MA. Parish bulletin archives, theological articles, and historical information.