Faith, patriotism and courage on display in South Boston

We often hear it said, "That our culture and times are changing and we have to accept it." Yesterday, after all the Masses, we heard Father Frank Daly say goodbye to the Catholic parishioners of South Boston as he left for a new assignment as Pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows in Sharon. When he delivered his farewell comments to the people, you could see many of them wiping their eyes with tears of sadness. In such a short time, he made a big impact on people. Father Daly, who had been previously married, joined the priesthood after his wife and mother of his children, passed away. The community got to love his homilies about the challenges of raising families, but also hearing that with prayer and God, all things were possible. Yes, our society and culture may be changing, but our family values continue. But Father Daly's emotional farewell to parishioners at St. Brigid and Gate of Heaven Church would not be the only event that made us all proud to be a Boston Catholic.

Yesterday after the 8 a.m. Mass at St. Brigid Church, the 4th anniversary of the passing of Navy Lt. Tim Cook was marked in the church hall where three deserving young residents were recipients of partial scholarships to Boston College High School. We witnessed all that is still great about our town and country. Tim was a graduate of B.C. High and U.S. Naval officer who, after combat duty in Iraq, returned home, only to face new health challenges and passed away in 2014. But his life inspired his family, friends and neighbors to establish a scholarship in his memory. The Church community all took part in the special memorial Mass and ceremony which reminded us of Tim's patriotism, friendship and contributions to others. It also inspired veteran champion U.S. Congressman Steve Lynch and Fitzgerald VFW Post Commander Ed Flynn to keep fighting and advocating to help our veterans.

In his homily, Msgr. Liam Bergin, told us a story about a young Iraqi man named Ragheed whom he first met studying for the priesthood at the Irish Pontifical College in Rome in 1996. Irish Pontifical College is a place I took many visitors from Boston at about the same time, when I was Ambassador to the Vatican and living in Rome and knew all the students. Father Ragheed was brutally murdered by ISIS terrorists in a Mosul Chaldean Catholic Church because he refused to close his church. He became known as "Father Ragheed of the Eucharist." Iraq, once had 1.2 million Catholics, but today only has 400,000.

The three deserving young scholarship recipients, Tommy Casper, Eric Lopes, and James McDonald will continue to carry on our great traditions. Yes, our city and culture is changing, but we still know where to go to be reminded about all the great people who work hard and sacrifice every day to help keep our neighborhoods safe and happy places to raise families. As I said today to Jimmy Donovan, "a Southie legend" who's an usher and volunteer at the Church, maybe these special events we saw here today is the reason why we never move and so many others want to move in. "A community is still about people who care and people we love."

- Raymond L. Flynn is the former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See and Mayor of Boston.