Living the Faith: Mary Madden

PLYMOUTH -- To hear Mary Madden speak of her parish, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha in Plymouth, is like hearing her speak of a close family member.

“This parish is like one of my children,” she stated.

She, along with her husband Thomas Madden, was there when the Archdiocese of Boston first established Blessed Kateri 25 years ago.

“I’ve been involved in this parish since before it was a parish,” remarked Madden.

At first, parishioners celebrated outdoor Masses in a field in Plymouth, she said.

“As time moved on, we got a building, and ultimately Blessed Kateri was born,” she said, adding with a smile “and I think I have served on pretty much every committee since then.”

Madden described her parish as “a young parish,” something she considers “unique” because many of the parishioners have been involved since the parish’s inception.

“Still having so many people involved since the founding, there’s a lot of ownership involved,” she said.

According to Madden, the typical parishioner is very involved in the life of the parish: not just attending weekly Mass but serving on committees, volunteering their time and helping others in the community.

“There’s been a lot of leadership in the parish,” she said thoughtfully. “People have been so involved in the creating and maintaining of this church that I think we feel partially responsible for making things happen.”

Madden was born, raised and married in Rhode Island. However, shortly after the couple wed, her husband’s employers transferred him to Massachusetts. Initially the couple settled in Brockton, where Madden became involved in Massachusetts Citizens for Life, then an ad hoc committee.

Together with their three children, they made Plymouth their home in 1977.

Madden, who works as the MCAS Remediation Specialist for the Plymouth Public Schools, currently serves the parish as a lector and a member of the liturgy planning committee.

In addition, she is very involved in the children’s liturgy.

“We originally had [the liturgy] once a month; then it increased to twice, now because of support from parents, we will be offering it each week,” she stated.

Madden praised her pastor, Father James Braley, for the “calmness and reverence” he brings to the parish.

According to Madden, Father Braley came to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha the weekend after Sept. 11, 2001 -- a very difficult time to begin an assignment. However, Father Braley was warmly accepted by the congregation.

“I think he really brings a wonderful spirit with him,” she said. “He has his priorities in order.”

In addition to her usual involvement in the parish, Madden is also helping to plan the celebrations for the parish’s silver anniversary.

“Our celebrations started at Christmas,” she said. The parish hung several banners bearing the anniversary year theme, “25 years of faith, hope and love.” A dinner dance is in the works as well as a pilgrimage to the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, N.Y., the birthplace of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. In addition, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley is scheduled to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving for the parish in August.

“I have been very privileged to be a part of this parish,” she mused.