Living the Faith: Ginny Noonan

CHELSEA -- Whenever a baby is baptized at Our Lady of Grace parish in Chelsea, Ginny Noonan is pleased to know she has played a part.

Noonan is the supervisor of the five-person committee that sews baptismal robes for every child baptized in the parish -- a ministry she carries out with great love.

According to Noonan, each robe that is hand-cut, sewn, and embroidered before being given to the newly baptised, “is a small way of welcoming others into the Church.”

An Everett resident, Noonan has been a parishioner at Our Lady of Grace all her life. Because the parish sits on the Chelsea/Everett line, parishioners come from both cities, explained Noonan.

Now retired from the Everett school system where she worked as a teaching aide, Noonan devotes much of her time to her parish. She visits shut-ins and people in nursing homes. She is the coordinator of the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion as well as being the parish sacristan. In addition, Noonan is a member of the worship committee.

“I’ve always been a Catholic and I’ve always gone to Church,” she said. “It’s something that has always been there for me and I hope that it always will.”

Never married, with no children of her own, Noonan believes her faith was strongly influenced by her mother, whose faith sustained her when she was widowed with six children.

“In our house, going to church was just something that was always there,” Noonan said. “It was something we always did.”

Over the 70 years that she has been at Our Lady of Grace, Noonan has witnessed the ethnic makeup of Chelsea and Everett change.

She lauded her pastor, Father James Barry, for his ability to make everyone feel “at home” at the parish, regardless of their background.

“Ours is a very active, diverse parish,” she said. “We have many, many ministries aimed at all people.”

“Father Barry is the best priest we’ve ever had,” continued Noonan. “I hope he’ll be here forever.”

Under the leadership of Father Barry, the parish has begun a “Parish Twinning program” with another parish in Haiti -- St. Joseph in L’Asile. Located in an impoverished area of Haiti, the parish and its 13 chapels are helped with donations of money and goods from parishioners at Our Lady of Grace.

“Father really feels strongly about helping out the twin parish in Haiti,” Noonan said, “and it helps us to live out the Gospel teaching of helping the poor.”

Our Lady of Grace Parish, Chelsea

Year established -- 1913

Pastor -- Father James Barry

Pastoral Associate -- Linda DeCristoforo

Religious Education Director

-- Sister Kathy Stark, DSMP

Parish Secretary -- Barbara E. Ostler