Seaport Shrine 'a beacon of hope,' says rector at vespers

SOUTH BOSTON -- After a long day out on the water and no fish to show for it, it was time for the fishermen to go home and rest. Yet, said Father Jim Flavin, Jesus asked them to lower their nets into the water one more time, and that made all the difference.

Delivering the homily during a vespers service at the newly competed Our Lady of Good Voyage Shrine, April 21, Father Flavin, the rector of the shrine, drew parallels between the Gospel story of the miraculous catch of fish and the building of the new shrine.

Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley presided at the vespers service, held on the eve of the shrine's dedication, for priests, community members, archdiocesan staff, workers and others involved with the development of the new seaport church. The shrine's doors were open to the public for the first time earlier that day.

Just like the disciples in the story who were exhausted after fishing all day and catching no fish, we "might be a little tired of fishing," said Father Flavin.

"The majority of our brothers and sisters don't go to Mass on the weekends. The value of human life seems to be challenged from all sides. The poor, the immigrant, the infirm elderly and so many others are often thought of as inconvenient," and the Archdiocese of Boston has had to close churches, he said.

It might seem like the odds are against us, he continued, "but here we are tonight, maybe tired, maybe a little cynical or a little weary, and yet Jesus is calling us again to go and cast the net onto the other side of Seaport Boulevard."

The shrine, the first new Catholic church to be constructed in the city of Boston for decades, will allow the archdiocese to "cast the net onto a whole new population."

"This beautiful building will help us cast our nets wide and far. Jesus is calling us again, like the disciples, like he called the women and men for generations, like he called Father Matignon, our first priest here in Boston, to preach the good news," Father Flavin said.

The shrine will "stand as a beacon of hope."

Speaking to The Pilot, Ethan Anthony, architect of the interior of the shrine and president of Cram and Ferguson Architects, said it felt "absolutely great" to see the shrine being used publically for the first time.

After working on the shrine for two and a half years, "the real reward is the people really loving it and enjoying it."

"I'm just as overwhelmed by it as anyone," he said. "We did visualize it early on, but sometimes it's just even better than you hoped it would be."

John Monaco, a student at Boston College who said he assists priests in the North End, commented on how he was happy to see the archdiocese come together during the vespers to "really celebrate the word and really worship together."

Looking around at the various ship imagery presented in the shrine, Monaco said that imagery is fitting, as it is "very tied in with Jesus in the Gospels who commands us to go out and cast our net in deep water."

It is "really conducive to the mission, which is to fish for souls."