Mission Church is pictured c. 1905, before the construction of it's distinguishing spires. Pilot photo/courtesy Archdiocesan Archives
The following is an excerpt of a letter to the editor published in the June 24, 1871, issue of The Pilot recounting a procession at the then-newly established Mission Church under the headline, "Procession in Honor of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Grand and Interesting Demonstration."
Boston Highlands, June 12, 1871. To the Editor of The Pilot. Dear Sir: -- Something never seen in Boston, took place on the Brookline road, on Sunday, June 11th, within the octave of Corpus Christi. A grand procession, with the Blessed Sacrament, was held on the grounds lately purchased by the Redemptorist Fathers of the heir of the late John Bumstead, esq., comprising six acres. At 3 o'clock P.M., there were Solemn Vespers in the church. After the Benedicamus, the Blessed Sacrament was taken down from the throne over the high altar, and the procession moved out of the church in the following order: After the Cross-bearer Acolytes walked; a large number of boys, two by two, which were followed by a large number of girls, dressed in white, displaying a magnificent appearance. Then came a strong column of young men, and after these another long row of men. Here followed the main part of the procession, that surrounded the object of our greatest love and adoration, Jesus, in the Blessed Eucharist.
... Crowds of spectators, say between 3 or 4,000, were spell-bound, and we must say comported themselves with the utmost decorum on the route. According to the Canonical rule of monastic enclosure, no female was permitted to enter the enclosed premises of the Garden, and they waited at the gate until the procession returned, when they joined it again in their respective places. On the highest elevation of the Garden a temporary Altar had been erected; there the procession halted, the canopy was placed over the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament placed on the throne, whilst the priests and crowds of people knelt before and around it. The band struck up the classic hymn "This is the day of the Lord," which was followed by "Tantum Ergo." Then was seen what never has taken place in Boston since the time of Creation: Jesus, veiled in the sacramental species, gave his blessing in the open air to the devoutly kneeling crowd. At that moment the neighboring hills seemed to bow down before their Creator, and nature appeared inclining in profound adoration before its Maker and Preserver. The procession moved on, and in the same order returned to the church. The little bell of the church sent forth its merry peals when the procession left the church, when it reached the repository, and when it re-entered the church.
The Redemptorists are a religious community of priests whose main occupation is to give missions throughout the various dioceses whither they are called. Their founder is St. Alphonsus De Liguori, canonized by Gregory XVI. In 1839, and lately, on the 23d March, 1871, declared Doctor of the Church, by our glorious reigning Pontiff, Pius IX.
... This Church was dedicated to the service of God, under the invocation of Our Lady of "Perpetual Help," on the 29th January, 1871. Since that, they are carrying on the holy work of the Mission in this Church continually, whilst some of the Fathers are at the same time occupied with outward missions. They have Confessionals in their church which are well attended by persons from the neighborhood, as well as others who come there from a great distance to receive the consolations of our holy religion. The names of the Fathers are -- Joseph Wissel. Adam Kries. Timothy Enright. Wm. Gross. Louis Cook. F.H. Miller. Wm. O'Connor. Four were born in America, two in the "Island of Saints," and one in Germany.
A nobler band of Christian soldiers does not exist; they are ever ready with the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit to defend the Church of Christ, and give comfort to the afflicted, reprove the erring, Counsel the young with the kindness of a father, and when Death, with all his terrors, approaches, they are at their post to ward off Satan, and cheer the dying penitent with the glorious promises of a blessed immortality.