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Regina Cleri marks Year for Priests

Bishop Robert Hennessey rededicates the statue of St. John Vianney, the patron saint for priests, that stands at the main entrance of Regina Cleri. With the bishop are residents and staff of the archdiocese’s residence for retired priests. Pilot photo/Jim Lockwood

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BOSTON -- Residents of Regina Cleri, the Archdiocese of Boston’s retirement residence for priests, marked the Year for Priests with a Mass and dinner there Oct. 16. Central Regional Bishop Robert Hennessey was the main celebrant at the Mass.

Bishop Hennessey reminded the priests of their extraordinary influence in the lives of Catholics over the years.

He focused his remarks on the Sacrament of Confession.

“If you ever feel down, stop and think about how many people you have brought back to confession,” Bishop Hennessey said. “Whatever number you can remember, God can remember 10, 20, 30, or 60 more.”

Following the Mass, the priests processed out to the statue of St. John Vianney, the patron of priests, which stands near the main entrance of the residence. Bishop Hennessey proceeded to bless and rededicate the statue.

During the homily, Bishop Hennessey recalled his stay in the infirmary wing of the residence while recovering from a snapped ankle and fractured shoulder sustained in an April 2007 fall.

“My time with you was a time of pain, but one of the best times in my life as a priest because I got to know you,” he said. “I was in a wheelchair and could only use one hand. I would be outside and a bunch of you would be running to see how many people could push the bishop.”

“Because of you pushing me -- and you did that out of love -- I am literally and figuratively able to move forward,” he continued. “It is a lesson you taught me and for that I will be forever grateful.”

Residents at Regina Cleri complimented the pope for declaring the Year for Priests and testified to its importance.

“We are in thanksgiving to the good Lord,” said Father Leo Lynch, ordained in 1956 and most recently the pastor at St. Anthony Parish in Woburn. “A day like this gives us a morale boost in days like this where priests aren’t always looked upon in a good light.”

“We deserve recognition,” remarked Father Frederick O’Brien, ordained in 1950 and formerly the pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Brockton. “I think the pope did very well having the Year for Priests. Lord knows we need it.”

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