Bridget Conroy with staff members Kathleen Lloyd and Sister Margaret Therese. “One of her children is a priest and three of her daughters are religious sisters. Doesn’t she look remarkable for 105?” Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy
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Recently Bishop Daniel Anthony Hart, the bishop emeritus of Norwich, Conn., passed away after a long illness. He had been a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and for many years an auxiliary bishop in our South Region prior to being named a bishop in Norwich.
He was very beloved, and Bishop Francis Irwin organized a memorial Mass in Boston.
The Mass was held at St. John the Baptist Parish in Peabody, which is one of the parishes where Bishop Hart served as a parochial vicar for many years. He also served at a number of other parishes in the archdiocese.
Many of the parishioners at St. John’s had been parishioners when Bishop Hart served there. Father John MacInnis, the current pastor, hosted the Mass and a reception after, where many of the parishioners shared wonderful stories. They recalled memories of the ministry of this very zealous and kind priest.
Members of Bishop Hart’s family were also there. One of his brothers looked so much like Bishop Hart and sounded exactly like him. Another brother who is a doctor, a sister, some cousins and little grandnephews were present as well. They all seemed very happy that there was a memorial Mass in the Archdiocese of Boston.
Visiting Marian Manor
On Sunday, I celebrated Mass for the second Sunday of Lent at Marian Manor, a nursing home run by the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm, in South Boston.
The Carmelite sisters there do such a wonderful job and I was pleased to see that they have a young novice working with them.
I have been very blessed because Carmelite sisters have been in three of the four dioceses I have served as bishop. So I knew them well in Fall River as well as Palm Beach, Fla. They have a very special ministry, the care for the elderly and infirm. The sisters also run St. Patrick Manor in Framingham, and we are blessed to have their charism as part of our archdiocese.
It was nice that a number of people come and accompany their parents to Sunday Mass there at Marian Manor. Some of our priests were also able to attend this Mass.
Father Vincent Von Euw is now residing there. He concelebrated from his wheelchair and is doing much better.
Father Bill Cuddy was also with us. He is a Boston priest, a captain in the Navy and the head chaplain for the United States Coast Guard, which is a very prestigious post. When he is home, he lives with us at the cathedral. So when he heard we were going to Marian Manor, he asked to join us.
We also met a woman named Bridget Conroy who is going to be 106 in November! One of her children is a priest and three of her daughters are religious sisters.
Bridget is from Ireland, and her mother was an O’Malley. She is in a wheelchair but is very active and keeps busy. She reads extensively, knits and crochets every day.
Meeting with the women
On Wednesday, I met with the women religious superiors in the archdiocese. The gathering was hosted by the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception at Mount Alvernia High School in Newton.
We had a prayer service, and then I talked with them about the latest things that are happening.
I talked about the “Arise: Together in Christ” program, organized by Renew International. I also gave them an update on the committees that have been set up, our move to Braintree and the vocation situation.
Then, we had questions and answers with the sisters and afterwards Sister Marian Batho, the Boston delegate for religious, invited the representatives from the various communities to talk about their spirituality. We have 87 congregations of women religious in the archdiocese, with over 2,400 women.
It was an opportunity for them to get to know each other better and share their spirituality.
The Little Sisters of the Poor, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the Sisters of St. Joseph and many of the other communities have been here for decades. One of the Sisters of Jesus Crucified, which is a tiny Lithuanian community, spoke up and joked with the other women, “We are very proud to be one of the two communities that have their generalate in the Archdiocese of Boston, my community and the Sisters of St. Joseph. We just want to welcome all the rest of you visitors.” She got quite a rise from everyone!
One of the Marist Missionary Sisters, a congregation I know so well because they were with me in the West Indies, recalled a humorous comment made by their development director. She explained that the Marists’ charism is to live like Mary, a life of hiddenness and simplicity. The development director said, “This hiddenness business is killing us.”
There was a great spirit among the sisters and many of them talked about the large number of retired sisters that they are caring for. A lot of their energy goes into that. The sisters of St. Chretienne spoke about that in a dramatic way and many other sisters mentioned that. These retired sisters are the ones who have contributed so much to the life of the Church in our country and in our diocese. Sister Marian quoted what I said in my homily marking the beginning of our bicentennial year about the religious in the archdiocese and the contributions they made:
“As we look back, our hearts must be filled with gratitude and admiration for the priests, the religious, the laity that have gone before us, marked with a sign of faith. The parishes, the nursing homes, the schools, the hospitals, the agencies, the social services, the organizations. The many who collaborated with the Church’s mission and the universal Church as priests in the military service. Over 300 who have served in the St. James Society. Those from Boston, who founded Maryknoll. The countless religious, including our own Sisters of St. Joseph, the Notre Dame sisters who staffed so many countless schools. The five convents of contemplative sisters here, praying for the needs of the Church. Our two seminaries, and the countless faithful Catholic laity, who have made so many sacrifices for their Church. And so courageously and quietly witnessed to their Catholic faith and family life. For the priests and deacons and catechists in our parishes, our unsung heroes. Today, for all of these blessings of 200 years, we say, ‘Thank you, Lord.’”