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WESTON -- After over a year of limited opportunities to see each other in person, many of the priests of the archdiocese attended their first social event on Aug. 4 as they gathered at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary for the annual St. John Vianney cookout.
This gathering always takes place close to the feast day of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests. The event was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year, it took place on the saint's actual feast day.
The priests first gathered in the seminary chapel, where rector Father Brian Kiely welcomed them, and Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley led them in evening prayer.
After the prayer service, they ate dinner together in the dining hall, enjoying hamburgers, hot dogs, salad, and desserts -- and, most of all, enjoying each other's company.
"There's a lot of energy in this room, and everyone really seems happy to see each other," Father Michael E. Drea, who is currently serving as national chaplain of FOCUS, observed during the meal, as the priests talked, laughed, and ate together.
He noted that their opportunities to attend events when they would usually see each other, such as the Chrism Mass and the ordinations of deacons and priests, were "dramatically lowered" during the pandemic.
"To be able to be with brothers that you haven't seen in a long time is a great blessing," Father Drea said.
Father Tom Nestor, pastor of the Collaborative Parishes of Resurrection and St. Paul in Hingham, said getting together with other priests "confirms your fraternity in the Lord and in the mission."
"We don't see one another that often these days," he said.
He added that it was nice to have the cookout at the seminary, a place where many Boston priests were trained.
Father Stephen J. Linehan, dean of seminarians and director of pastoral formation at the seminary, was reminded of Psalm 133, which speaks of how good it is for brothers to live in unity.
"It's rejuvenating to be with other people, celebrating our priesthood, especially on this particular (feast) day," he said as the event drew to a close.