Many years ago, in the wee hours of a chill spring night, a rider set out on a journey through a number of Middlesex towns and villages that would change the course of American history forever. His midnight cries of the “The British are coming, the British are coming” set the young colony of New England on a path from which it could never turn back. And so it was that we looked forward for many months to another event of historic proportions… Perhaps not one that would impact American history in such a dramatic fashion, but one that would forever be stamped on the history of our home and in the fabric of our hearts—“Mother General is coming! Mother General is coming!”
On October 9th the breezeway of our home filled early with the Residents and Little Sisters as we eagerly awaited Mother General’s arrival. Mother Celine and her companions, Mother Assistant Gerard Patricia, Mother Provincial Margaret Regina and Sr. Frances Catherine finally pulled into the driveway about 3:30 pm. after a relatively short journey from nearby Enfield, CT.
Several members of the Sudbury Ancients, in full colonial garb, intoned appropriate early American fife and drum music to announce the arrival of our historic guests. Then John Adams and Paul Revere emerged from the shadows of the history books. The second President of the United States and the long ago midnight rider were on hand; Paul sans horse, to greet Mother General and her traveling companion, Mother Assistant Gerard Patricia. The wives of our illustrious greeters were also hand for the occasion. Each of our guests was offered a lovely fall-themed bouquet. It was quite a revolutionary welcome!
Mother General and Mother Assistant then greeted each of the Residents who lined the breezeway into our home. Many had a little word of welcome for our guests.
On Sunday Mother General met with the Association Jeanne Jugan members, the families of the Residents and the Little Sisters. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky above Somerville. The chapel was resplendendent with fall arrangements offered by Mr. Thomas Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Florist. Our Eucharistic Celebration began at 10:30 a.m. with Bishop Robert F. Hennessey officiating. Our Residents’ Choir and Hand Bell Choir animated the liturgy. Bishop Hennessey complimented them on their efforts and indeed they had put in many hours of practice!
After Mass, Mother General greeted everyone in their dining rooms. In the Main Dining Room, Brother Eldridge Pendleton, SSJE, spoke on behalf of all the Residents of the 5th Floor and Pavilion. Mother Celine also visited the 3rd Floor where Margaret Stanton greeted her and Frances Callahan had a gift for Mother Assistant. Last but not least was the 4th Floor, where Jim McGuiness had the honor of welcoming Mother General.
Just before our afternoon talent show, Somerville’s mayor, Joseph A. Curtatone came to present Mother General with a Citation honoring her on the occasion of her visit to the city. He also gave her a pin of the city. Several members of the Board of Aldermen who are on our Board were also on hand. William Roche, Lisa Cleary and Robert McWatters presented her with a generous check on behalf of he Advisory Board.
Following these presentations, our talent show began in earnest. The Residents, employees, volunteers and friends all contributed to our program. Two of the Residents, Jim McGuiness and Dottie McGirk had been practicing for months. These two together with and an employee, Molly formed a trio that sang “My Way.” Jim and Dottie put their whole heart and soul into it and the crowd recognized their effort with a standing ovation! Our repertoire of talent was topped off and brought to a close with our own version of the “Golden Girls!” Martha Lopez, a Pavilion Resident, choreographed and wrote an original song to the tune “California Here I Come” for this act!
Our joy at this visit couldn’t be contained and our celebrating flowed over into the next day! Sean Cardinal O’Malley, O.F.M. joined us to celebrate Mass for the first anniversary of the canonization. We were happy to have our chaplain, Rev. William Mulligan and four other priest friends who came to concelebrate with Cardinal O’Malley. Also in the sanctuary was Rev. John P. Kelly, the only retired priest here at the home. The Little Brothers of St. Francis also joined with us in marking this anniversary. Once again our Residents’ Choir animated the liturgy and did a remarkable job.
Later in the afternoon the Residents were invited to the auditorium to view a slide show of the canonization. Thanks to the multiple cameras of Little Sisters and pilgrims, we were happy to have these digital memories of this day which captured the joys shared and the friendships made. Following the slide show, several of the employees and volunteers dressed in typical Breton fashion served refreshments of French pastries.
This historic visit of Mother General to our home officially closed on October 13th. Our last meal with our guests was topped off with a local original—Boston Cream Pie! We finished the visit by presenting Mother General with a few souvenirs of our great city, including a teddy bear dressed in colonial attire and a book recounting the midnight ride of Paul Revere. A few last minute farewells and before we knew it, Mother General Celine de la Visitation, Mother Assistant Gerard Patricia, Mother Provincial Margaret Regina and Sr. Frances Catherine were making one final tour of the driveway before the car carrying our guests pulled out of the driveway and headed for Pawtucket, where we were told the Pawsox mascots awaited her!