Cardinal O'Malley celebrates Mass on New Year's Eve at St. Clement's Eucharistic Shrine in Boston's Back Bay. Pilot photo/Mark Labbe
BACK BAY -- A vibrant Back Bay venue was standing-room only for its New Year's Eve celebration, but it wasn't one of the neighborhood's noted bars or clubs.
The pews of St. Clement's Eucharistic Shrine in Boston were so packed that people had to stand by the doors to participate in the shrine's New Year's Eve prayer vigil and midnight Mass celebrated by Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, Dec. 31.
During the vigil, which began at 10:00 p.m., Father Peter Grover OMV offered extended reflections in the context of praying the rosary.
In his reflections on the Joyful Mysteries, he recounted personal stories, provided insight into different parts of the Bible, and spoke on the importance of worship.
"The reason we come to hear the word of God is because something happens to us... We become mother and brother and sister to the Lord," Father Grover said.
Shortly after the vigil ended, the Mass began at 11:30 p.m.
In his homily, Cardinal O'Malley spoke about forgiveness, highlighting the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, which began on Dec. 8 and continues until November.
He said mercy is essential for the faithful, and noted that part of being merciful is being a missionary.
"We must be people of mercy. That is part of the missionary discipleship that the Holy Father is always talking about," he said.
"We would never say 'I don't care if that child starves to death, I don't care if that child never learns to read, I don't care if that child bleeds to death.' We would never say that. But nor should we say 'I don't care if this child never knows God, I don't care if that child never prays, or receives Holy Communion,'" the cardinal continued.
Before the end of the Mass, Cardinal O'Malley gave a special Apostolic Blessing, which granted those in attendance a plenary indulgence.
When the Mass was over, people moved downstairs for refreshments.
There, Joanne Donovan, a parishioner of St. Clement's, told The Pilot that the cardinal "had a beautiful homily," and said how "it was great seeing so many priests celebrating" the New Year at the service.
"This is the best way to start the New Year, with Jesus and the community," she said.