'Grand Event' Launches 150th Celebration
On a near-perfect early autumn afternoon, two venerable Boston institutions united last Saturday for a memorable event invoking tradition, history, faith, service and community, as 150-year-old Boston College held a Mass at century-old Fenway Park to formally launch the University’s Sesquicentennial Celebration.
The Mass, which also marked the start of BC High’s 150th anniversary commemoration, was attended by some 20,000 people, who filled the stands all along Fenway’s first base side and behind home plate. The focal point of the event was a temporary stage on the edge of the infield, where University President William P. Leahy, SJ, celebrated the Mass, joined by Professor of Theology Fr. Michael Himes — whose homily was widely praised — and nearly 100 Jesuits and alumni priests as concelebrants. Boston Archbishop Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM, Cap., presided.
“Today’s Mass has been a grand event, and a wonderful way to start our Sesquicentennial,” said Fr. Leahy, toward the end of the event. “I am grateful to all those who worked so hard and did so much to enable us to enjoy this very special day.”
Archbishop O’Malley praised the legacy of BC for its role as a champion of early Irish immigrants facing anti-Catholic prejudice in Boston, and for its continued support of the Catholic Church’s mission. “In the days of Fr. McElroy, it wasn’t easy to be a Catholic or immigrant in Boston, and it isn’t easy today,” he said, referring to BC founder John McElroy, SJ.
“We still need the giants of Catholic education to help form new disciples in the church. The involvement of BC with the renewal of our Catholic schools has made a huge difference. BC has been a very important part in the history of our local church and we are all delighted to be a part of this magnificent celebration in Fenway Park.”
On this day, Fenway — in the midst of its own centennial celebration this year — was transformed into a satellite campus of BC, as administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni and parents of current and former students from the University congregated in the legendary ballpark. The event offered a snapshot of the face of the BC community across generations, from hearty senior citizens to dozing infants; attire ranged from suits and ties and formal dresses to casual polo shirts and shorts, with an occasional pair of torn jeans and dyed hair glimpsed among the crowd.
Many members of the BC and BC High communities had key roles in the Mass, such as BC Trustees Chair Kathleen McGillycuddy NC’71, who gave the first reading. The University Chorale, the Liturgical Arts Group, the School of Theology and Ministry Liturgical Choir and the BC High Liturgical Choir provided the music. Undergraduate Government of Boston College President Christopher Osnato ’13, Tatiana Cortes ’14 — a Mission Hill native who earned a four-year Gates Foundation Scholarship to attend BC — and BC High Student Council President Daniel Dougherty offered the prayers of the faithful. Some 200 Eucharistic ministers, including faculty and staff as well as students, assisted in distributing Communion.
Fr. Himes’ contribution was easily one of the most appreciated. He spoke about the vital connection between Jesuit tradition and the educational and formational mission of Boston College.
“What you and I and God have in common is that we are all human,” he said. “To be like God, you must be more human. To be more human, you must help others, and give of yourself and your talents. And that means being educated — it is how Jesuit education has formed others for 500 years.”
Fr. Himes described what he called the “unshakably central” tenet of Jesuit education. “What you hold onto, you lose. What you give away, you never lose,” he said. “The reason to be educated is to teach someone else. You never grasp the fruits of your education until you give it away.
“So, I say to you: Give it away.”
“Fr. Himes hit it out of the park,” commented Archbishop O’Malley when he began his remarks.
Following the Mass, some in the crowd lingered to take in the sights at Fenway, going on tours of the fabled Green Monster or other parts of the ballpark, or relaxing and socializing in the concession area.
Many of those attending were clearly buoyed by the day.
“It was just a very special day all around,” said Steve Dmohowski ’74, son of the late Stanley Dmohowski, who taught accounting at BC for more than 50 years. “The music was beautiful, the words Fr. Leahy, Fr. Himes and Archbishop O’Malley spoke were memorable — I was very happy to be here.”
“I wouldn’t have missed it,” said George Markt MA’86, whose daughter Brooke is a junior. “It was even better than we expected. I think the archbishop just brought everything together with his remarks, when he talked about BC’s mission then and now.”
College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Colin Pavano had an insider’s view of the event as a member of the University Chorale.
“This was a lot of work, and a little nerve-wracking, because we only had one rehearsal with everyone together — and that was today,” said Pavano, a resident of Avon, Conn. “But everything was worth it, especially Fr. Himes’ homily.”
Pavano’s friend and fellow sophomore Ted Raddell, whose family had journeyed from their home in Wickliffe, Ohio, for the weekend, was impressed by the sheer magnitude and make-up of the audience.
“It was a day for the BC community, not just us the students but the faculty, the priests, the alumni. This was truly BC ‘for everybody.’”
For Don and Kelly Naugler, parents of two BC alumni and a junior in the Connell School of Nursing — who performed with the Chorale during the event — Fr. Himes’ homily resonated in a very personal way. As Kelly explained, a family friend who graduated from the Connell School helped deliver four of their five children: “She definitely gave us the benefit of her education at BC.”