... that day I felt blessed to be a part and witness to this priestly brotherhood concelebrating Mass together. You could feel their love and respect for one another that you feel with your own family.
One morning in late October, I took the opportunity to join the senior priests of Regina Cleri for the daily 8:30 a.m. Mass. Regina Cleri is a home for senior priests of the Archdiocese of Boston, of which I am the director. We provide a community for men that are aged, frail, and in need of living in a supportive community. They come in wheelchairs, on walkers and canes, some escorted, all brothers in the service of Christ.
On that October morning, the sun was streaking through the stained glass windows that envelope the chapel -- St. John Vianney, St. Pius X, St. Botolph, and St. Richard of Chichester were lighting up the backs of the priests who were dressed in all white. Each priest ended up with a different color of red, green, blue, and yellow reflected off their vestments. It was an incredibly beautiful sight to see more than 2,800 years of priestly vocation all celebrating in one chapel. While I have been to many Masses at Regina Cleri, that day I felt blessed to be a part and witness to this priestly brotherhood concelebrating Mass together. You could feel their love and respect for one another that you feel with your own family.
Each of the retired men are unique individuals, but they come together as a family. Every day I witness a priest helping his brother by getting a walker from the dining room, putting food on the plate of a blind or disabled priest, assisting with the Eucharist at Mass, holding the elevator for a priest on a walker, or assisting a priest up from their chair in the dining room. These men are wonderful examples of kindness and compassion for one another.
Regina Cleri is similar to any large Catholic family; they have good and bad days, and they celebrate and mourn together. Recently, our community had a farewell party for two of our staff -- sisters from the Disciples of the Divine Master -- who both had worked at Regina Cleri for 25 years. A visitor commented to me that she had never seen such compassion and love like this in a residence. The respect for what these two sisters had done for them and for all their brother priests at Regina Cleri for a quarter of a century did not go unnoticed.
When Cardinal Richard Cushing founded Regina Cleri over 50 years ago, he wanted a home for senior priests that would allow them to continue their priestly vocations together. Today, Regina Cleri's mission is to be "a spiritual community committed to supporting the health and vocation for the senior priests of the Archdiocese of Boston." Cardinal Cushing would be proud that his vision continues to thrive today and that these men have truly become a family.
Regina Cleri is supported financially by the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust. At this year's Christmas collection, please support our mission of providing an appropriate level of care and quality of life for senior priests living at Regina Cleri. Together, we can show our priests -- many of whom have become like family to us -- just how much their presence and support means to us at Christmas and throughout the entire year.
STEPHEN J. GUST IS DIRECTOR OF THE REGINA CLERI RESIDENCE.