Fr. Matt Williams
When Fr. Matt arrived as pastor at St. J’s Collaborative in Quincy in 2018, there were very few young people and young families. Fr. Matt made it his mission to turn that around.
Through his JOY Movement (Jesus-Others-Yourself), he has brought people together, engaged parishioners of all ages, and reminded everyone that we were not meant to live on islands, but to live together as one family through Christ.
He also recognized that the greatest way of engaging young families is with a Vacation Bible School. Since its first year, when the parish had about 40 youngsters enrolled, St. J’s Collaborative’s Vacation Bible School enrollment has more than tripled.
“I went to Vacation Bible School the first year it was happening. It gave me joy and happiness, that I know God is with me all the time.”
Mikaila Jordan, Parishioner, Vacation Bible School Student
Fr. Michael Nolan:
The Goal is Unity
Fr. Michael Nolan has been the pastor of St. Mary Parish in Waltham for 16 years, and over the course of those years, the demographics of the community have changed. Fr. Nolan has made it his mission to ensure that all ethnicities feel welcomed at St. Mary’s, from the Hispanic parishioners to the Ugandan parishioners who come to celebrate Mass each week.
The Ugandan community, a relatively new community in Waltham, brings a lively musical influence to the Masses. Parishioners travel from all over Massachusetts to participate in the Ugandan Masses at St. Mary’s.
Fr. Nolan also noticed that members of the Hispanic community were looking for afterschool activities for children, so he organized a vibrant afterschool program that focuses on academics, faith, and health which has helped children thrive and bring purpose to volunteers’ lives.
“Fr. Michael lets us do our own cultures. He is always there, encouraging.”
Gloria Namatovu, Ugandan Choir Director at St. Mary’s
Msgr. Frank Kelley and Fr. Bill Joy
The Pine Street Inn: Fighting Homelessness in Boston
The Pine Street Inn has been fighting homelessness in the City of Boston for more than five decades. But what many don’t know is that Pine Street is here today to serve those in need because of the tireless efforts of Monsignor Frank Kelley, Father Bill Joy, and the Association of Boston Urban Priests (ABUP).
With its comprehensive programs and services the Pine Street Inn represents far more than a home for Boston’s homeless. It also represents a second chance at life.
“The Association of Boston Urban Priests (ABUP) created what we know today as the Pine Inn…It was an effort, I think, on behalf of Father Kelly and the other people involved in ABUP to do something important to the city and to step in where nobody else would at the time.”
Lyndia Downie, Pine Street Inn President & CEO
Fr. Dan Mahoney and Fr. John Unni
Answering the Call for Boston’s Firefighters
For the men and women of the Boston Fire Department (BFD), the oldest fire department in the nation, every day could be their last. So it’s no surprise that the role of Fire Chaplain is so revered and appreciated.
Boston firefighters have relied on the emotional and spiritual support of Catholic chaplains for more than 100 years. Current chaplains, Fr. Dan Mahoney (pastor of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Charlestown) and Fr. John Unni (pastor of St. Cecilia Parish, Boston), are often the first people they seek out in times of despair and tragedy.
Like the firefighters they serve, Fr. Mahoney’s and Fr. Unni’s roles require that they be on-call at a moment’s notice to help others.
“Chaplains are usually the first call when we have a tragedy. Firefighters come to work every day. It could be their last. It’s hard to predict. We’ve been blessed with some outstanding chaplains who really were involved in the lives of our members. They commit so much of their time and energy to firefighters.”
Former BFD Commissioner Joseph Finn
Fr. Joseph Linh Nguyen
Serving a Diverse Parish Community in Dorchester
If you attend Sunday morning Mass at St. Mark Parish in Dorchester, the first thing you’ll likely notice is the heavy Vietnamese cultural influence. Next you’ll notice how warmly the Mass is embraced by everyone in attendance, not just the Vietnamese population. It’s a wonderful mixture of cultures and ethnicities, and something St. Mark’s pastor, Fr. Joseph Linh Nguyen, is very thankful for.
“To build a strong community and to have that connection with the outer community, I think will make our city better, make our neighborhood better because we’re not so separate,” says Fr. Nguyen.
Fr. Nguyen, himself a Vietnamese immigrant, is well aware of St. Mark’s long history as a haven for immigrants like him adjusting to a brand new culture. As the pastor of St. Mark’s, Nguyen embraces the opportunity to carry on the tradition of fostering an environment in which all parishioners feel welcome to celebrate their faith as one body in Christ.
“You can’t ask for a better kind of environment that he creates for openness and bringing people into the Church.”
Francis Lydon, St. Mark’s Parishioner
Fr. Jim Ronan
Building a Bridge from Charlestown to Ecuador
Fr. Jim Ronan is a beloved figure in Charlestown for the many things he does to strengthen his local community as pastor of St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish. But Fr. Jim’s impact extends far beyond his parish walls – and in fact, far outside of the country.
Fr. Jim founded an organization called Rostro de Cristo (“The Face of Christ”), a program that brings volunteers to serve those living on the margins in Ecuador. Volunteers, who range from teenagers to seniors, work together to serve the community in a variety of ways, including community-based projects that meet their human needs and bring them closer to God.
Being present to the Ecuadoran locals often proves to be as eye-opening as it is rewarding, leaving the volunteers with an enriched understanding of how to bring others closer to God within their own community.
“Whether it’s in Ecuador and it’s in a small recinto far out that it took hours to get to, whether it’s in Charlestown or in Lawrence, Fr. Jim Ronan has a guiding core belief that as priest, his vocation is to empower the people that he serves to be unique expressions of God’s love in the world. My experience in Ecuador as a senior in high school is the cornerstone of what I do.”
Ed Hardiman, Headmaster of St. John’s Prep, Danvers
Fr. Paul O’Brien
From Homeless to Hopeful
Hector Heredia first arrived at St. Patrick Parish in Lawrence as a troubled teen looking for a pickup game of basketball and something to eat. What he didn’t realize was that wandering into the St. Patrick’s gym would be the beginning of a lifelong, life-changing friendship with Fr. Paul O’Brien.
After learning that Hector was homeless and living out of his car, Fr. O’Brien became like the father figure Hector never had: checking in with him regularly, pushing him to do his homework, and encouraging him to set his sights on graduating from college. It was the first time in Hector’s life that the thought of college even occurred to him.
Fr. O’Brien made such a tremendous impact on Hector’s life that after graduating from Regis College he decided to become a guidance counselor so he can be for other struggling kids what Fr. O’Brien was for him.
“Father was there in every way you could think of in my journey. If you love someone the way Father loves and cares for other people, that’s going to be the help that everybody needs. If it wasn’t for that, I don’t know what I’d be doing at this time.”