It is a sure sign of summer and more when the Memorial Day Parade rolls around here in Somerville! This year’s event was held on Sunday, May 27. For years the home has been a part of this local tradition. Each year a faithful benefactor provides an open air trolley that allows the Residents to ride the two mile long parade route in style. Sunday proved to be a perfect day lending itself to the day’s festivities as it was not too warm and there was an abundance of sunshine! About 11:45 a.m. we began the process of boarding the bus, a not so routine experience since we had a picnic lunch, sun hats and containers and containers of candy to get aboard the trolley! We were joined by several of our volunteers and Pat Sammon of our Activity Department who brought along her two granddaughters.
Since the streets are closed early along the parade route, we had to be in our designated staging area by noon. We soon had everyone and everything aboard and with our faithful driver made our way to a nearby side street to await the start of the parade. We whiled away the time munching on a delicious picnic lunch prepared by our faithful kitchen crew and loading up bucket upon bucket with candy to throw to the children along the parade route. The parade began to pretty much according to the scheduled starting time of 1:00 p.m. Soon we moved into our designated spot and within no time we began our rolling down Highland Avenue! From time to time we found ourselves nearly jumping out of our skins as the unit behind us was a colonial era themed minuteman group who faithfully discharged their muskets on cue as they marched along the parade route! The loud report of multiple muskets echoed off of the nearby homes and businesses and for sure no was dozing off in the bus!
The parade route took us directly in front of the home and we were delighted as the comfortable temperatures seemed to coax nearly everyone from their rooms! Residents lined the side walk running in front of the home from one edge of the property to the other and the crowd was several layers deep! Some family members had also joined their loved ones and watched the parade by the home since it afforded them an excellent vantage point to take in all the fun and action! The music and fun continued as we made our way down Highland Ave. through Davis Square and beyond. It was after 3:00 p.m. when we finally reached the end of the route then took a roundabout way back to the home. As we made a left onto Highland Avenue just a few blocks from the home it was hard to believe a parade had even taken place. The crowded streets were now deserted and there were no signs of the activity that had this same street buzzing just a short time beforehand. Our parade participants seemed to really enjoy the afternoon and echoes of the afternoon’s events were heard for days afterward.
May, traditionally considered the month of Mary, was brought to a fitting close with the holding of a traditional May Crowning. On the afternoon of Wednesday, May 30, we gathered in our patio on the second floor where our procession formed. We made our way from the patio to the chapel while reciting a decade of the rosary. Once we arrived in the chapel, we paused for the crowning of Our Lady. While singing, “O Mary We Crown Thee,” Evelyn Vallimere placed a crown of fresh flowers on Our Lady with the help of our activity aid, Pat Sammon. After the crowning, we finished the recitation of the rosary.
Then two weeks later our Jeanne Jugan community joined the nationwide effort of prayer for our beleaguered nation as we took part in “Fortnight for Freedom” initiated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Beginning on June 21, we gathered each afternoon in our chapel for a Holy Hour. Our Holy Hour began with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and whenever it was possible, closed with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament by our assistant chaplain, Father Roman. One of our Pavilion residents, Pauline Brien faithfully came each day and led the community in the recitation of the rosary. Each evening our chapel was quite filled as Little Sisters and Residents prayed together as one family for our nation and an end to the threats being made to our religious freedom. The rosary was followed by a special litany composed especially for these two weeks of prayer and followed with a prayer for our nation, Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty.. Our Holy Hour each evening of this fortnight concluded with recitation of Evening Prayer.
Also on June 25 in conjunction with these efforts, Sean Cardinal O’Malley, O.F.M. held a town hall meeting which was broadcast live on Catholic Television. This telecast aired on the evening of June 25 and featured several experts in the field of religious liberty. The panelists for this evening’s meeting included John Garvey 15th president of the Catholic University of America, Kim Daniels coordinator for CatholicVoices USA and an attorney who has a strong background in religious liberty issues, Angela Franks, Director of Theology Programs for the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization (TINE) at Saint John’s Seminary here in the Archdiocese of Boston and Carl A. Anderson Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus. People were encouraged to call or e-mail questions to the panelists during this hour long meeting. This Town Hall Meeting was just one of numerous events sponsored by dioceses across the nation during these two weeks of prayer. Appropriately enough, the fortnight came to a close on July 4th, Independence Day when we celebrate the birth of our nation and the freedoms that make it so unique.
Time just really seems to fly and it was less than a week later that our Little Sisters and the Residents of Jeanne Jugan Residence were invited to appear on Catholic TV themselves. Another long honored tradition in the greater Boston area is the appearance of the Little Sisters and Residents of Jeanne Jugan Residence on the Sunday Mass broadcast live throughout the New England area and across the country. We are usually invited to participate on the Sunday before the 4th of July. So we were up bright and early as the broadcast time is set for 7:00 am. Our group of intrepid participants pulled out of the driveway at 6:15 a.m. Although it is only a short distance to the Channel 7 Studios in downtown Boston we still had to face the traffic lights so we took no chances on being late! We pulled up to the studio with ample time to spare. After a short wait we, eleven in number, were ushered to the studio which was set up for this broadcast. Reverend Robert Reed, the Director of Catholic TV arrived just as we were heading to the studio. Always amicable and friendly, Father Reed did his utmost to make us feel at ease and most welcome. We were joined by Jay Madden of Catholic TV and his wife, Shirley and family, two boys and a girl. The set where the broadcast is actually televised resembles a small chapel but is in reality very tiny replica. Our contingent took up every available seat in the pews. The Mass began promptly on the stroke of 7:00 a.m. and we were instructed to remain seated for the entire Mass. Following the normal gestures of the Mass would have obstructed the view and disrupted the flow of the programming which is on a very tight schedule as it must be completed within a half hour timeframe. One of the Little Sisters was asked to do the readings. The celebration of the Mass passed very quickly and it seemed like no time and the half hour had passed… Afterward Father Reed took the time to pose with our group and to chat a little longer with each of his guests. We are always grateful for this opportunity which brings the Mass to thousands of shut-ins each week.
Last but not the least was our celebration of Independence Day on July 4th. The day dawned wet with thick gray clouds overhead. The heavy rains that fell overnight tapered to a steady rain fall which continued to fall throughout the morning hours. With no break in sight the BBQ we had planned was canceled but thanks to our contingency plan we had a picnic dinner all the same. Our kitchen crew did a fantastic job of preparing the hamburgers and hot dogs in the kitchen so our picnic fare was ready on time. As lunch time rolled around, the residents from both the home and the apartments quickly filled the auditorium which was awash in patriotic colors. Each table was set with a flag themed table cloth and set with a patriotically themed paper ware. The residents weren’t shy about filling their plates with their favorite foods as they helped themselves to hamburgers or hotdogs or both. They rounded out their plates with choices of delicious homemade macaroni salad, baked beans and fresh corn on the cob. The entire meal was topped off with sliced juicy watermelon.
Later as night fell over Boston, a few intrepid souls managed to watch the famous Boston Fireworks which were set off from a barge in the Charles River. Nearby is the famous Esplanade where the Boston Pops perform each 4th of July. Here as well rain interrupted the broadcast which aired live on Boston television then later went live on national TV. For about 25 minutes spectators were ushered into a nearby tunnel which is normally part of the Big Dig and handles thousands of cars each day. This night it became a welcome refuge in the storm! It made for a 4th of July celebration that won’t soon be forgotten!
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