'From there I went directly to Pine Street Inn, where I go every year to spend time with the residents and serve them a meal prepared by the wonderful volunteers.' Pilot photo/CardinalSeansBlog.org
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...On Christmas Eve in the morning we went to the Teen Center at St. Peter's in Dorchester for their annual Christmas gift event. Around 600 kids received presents at the gathering. The event was established by the late Mayor Thomas Menino over 20 years ago and is sponsored through a combined effort from the Menino family, Catholic Charities and the Dorchester Tri-Parishes. I was happy to meet several members of the Menino family who were in attendance and helped pass out gifts to the children.
Paulo Amado De Barros, the director of the Teen Center, is doing a great job and the center is helping revitalize the neighborhood and serves as a safe place for young people to spend time together. A number of our local priests and other leaders of the community, including members of the Boston Police Department were there for the joyful occasion.
From there I went directly to Pine Street Inn, where I go every year to spend time with the residents and serve them a meal prepared by the wonderful volunteers. Lyndia Downie, the executive director at the Inn, is doing a wonderful work and it is impressive to see all the programs and new initiatives the center is sponsoring for the welfare of our homeless population.
Pine Street is a very important social outreach to the homeless in our neighborhood and we are very happy that our parishioners at the cathedral are involved there due to the initiative of Father Kevin O'Leary. Pine Street works very closely with our Planning Office for Urban Affairs, finding permanent housing for homeless families particularly. Lisa Alberghini, the Planning Office director, accompanied me during the visit as always, and Msgr. Kelly was also there. He was one of the founders of Pine Street Inn and is still on the board of directors. It was a privilege to be able to pray with the people and to help serve meals to them and to visit with some of the residents there. Christmas can be a very difficult time when a person is homeless and away from their family, and we're all very grateful for the fine work that is done by our neighbors at Pine Street Inn.
At midnight, we had a "real" midnight Mass at the Cathedral. We had a beautiful celebration and the cathedral was filled. It was a great joy to be able to celebrate the traditional midnight Mass for our community and many visitors who accompanied us.
The next morning we had the televised Christmas Day Mass that was broadcast by several television channels including WHDH Channel 7. The daughters of St. Paul sang for us and, of course, their music was beautiful.
I also went to St. Francis House where I had a Christmas service, an ecumenical service, for the residents. Grace, John and Robert Carney, nieces and nephews of Father Bob Kickham, provided the music for the event. They did a very good job. I then gave a sermon to the residents and volunteers. Saint Francis House is significant to me as a Franciscan as it was founded in the spirit of Saint Francis to help those in need. Saint Francis had started the practice of the Christmas creche because he wanted people to see how Jesus was born in homelessness and poverty, and that the Incarnation was Jesus' emptying himself and becoming poor for our sake. We're very grateful to the wonderful work that's done at St. Francis House. Karen LaFrazia, their executive director, has been a force for good there for many years. Once again they work very closely with our Planning Office and they have a project right now to be able to house more homeless families in a new development they're renovating right near St. Francis House.