Cardinal brings in new year with Waltham Mass

WALTHAM -- St. Mary Parish welcomed the new year by hosting a midnight Mass for the feast of Mary, the Mother of God, celebrated by Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley.

Prior to the liturgy, there was a period for eucharistic adoration, during which the cardinal led congregants in the rosary.

“It was very powerful to see the rosary prayed with such devotion,” said Deacon Eduardo R. Mora, who is a member of the parish.

In his homily the cardinal said that at the annunciation, nine months before Christmas, Mary said yes to life, love and God.

“In a world that promotes abortion, stem-cell research, invitro fertilization -- and now want to reinvent marriage -- we will say yes to the culture of life, yes to God and yes to love.”

The cardinal said he recalled a passage written by Alexander Solzenitzen, who as a young boy in Russia overheard the older people of the village. The elders were deploring all of the horrible things that had transpired; they said the reason was that people had forgotten about God.

“When we forget about God, we forget who we are and why we are here,” he said.

“I know there are people who call it the ‘Common Era,’ or something like that. But, for us, believers, it is the Year of the Lord,” he said.

Father Michael Nolan, the pastor of St. Mary’s said he was very happy for the opportunity to host the cardinal’s New Year’s Mass. “It is a grace.”

The Mass had special significance for Father Nolan’s 20-year-old cousin, Sarah A. Chasin, who said in the previous week she was involved in a car accident, in which one of her best friends was killed.

Father Nolan called her and invited her to come to the Mass, she said.

Chasin was joined by her mother and another friend. “We are glad to be here.”

The service reflected Waltham’s diversity. Parts of the liturgy were proclaimed in Spanish and the Uganda Martyrs Choir contributed music to the celebration.

The choir is based at Waltham’s Sacred Heart Church and was invited to sing by Father Nolan, said Michael E. Mukisa, who leads the choir and who was the cantor at the Mass.

“It was kind of wild having the drums at the end--totally,” said David G. Baker, the parish’s music director. Baker played the organ for the service in the balcony with the choir, which erupted with drums at the end of the service.

Mukisa said many hymns have a 2/4 meter, which is common in African music, as well, so when the Mass was ending some members of the choir were caught up in the moment.

Members of the Ugandan community at Sacred Heart were among the dozens of worshipers, who joined the cardinal at the cookies and punch reception held in the church basement after the Mass.

One of them, Anthony G. Waddimba, approached Cardinal O’Malley with sheets of paper, which he said were prayer requests e-mailed to him from his family in Uganda, so they could be blessed by the cardinal.

Bending his head, he made his request, which the cardinal cheerfully granted.