The St. Mary Parish “9 o’clockers.” Trudy Gately, in white, is pictured to the left of St. Mary’s pastor Father Goodrow. Pilot photo/ Courtesy Trudy Gately
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WRENTHAM -- St. Mary Parish in Wrentham is poised for change.
After more than 12 years as pastor of St. Mary’s, Father John G. Connolly will be leaving the parish at the beginning of June. Father David C. Goodrow, parochial vicar at St. Patrick Parish in Stoneham, will become the new pastor as of June 12.
“We’re going to miss Father C -- he really was the backbone of this parish,” said Trudy Gately, longtime parishioner of St. Mary’s.
According to Gately, Father Connolly “is just a good, good person.”
She should know. Gately is one of the parish’s “9 o’clockers” -- a name referring to those parishioners who attend the daily 9 a.m. Mass.
As a “9 o’clocker,” Gately often has a chance to participate in her faith in a rather unique manner. Every summer, Father Connolly moves the daily Mass to the St. Joseph chapel, located within the rectory. It is there that he conducts “dialogue homilies” during the Mass.
“Dialogue homilies are just that,” explained Gately. “Every day, Father [Connolly] takes a topic and asks us what we think about it.”
According to Gately, the topics vary -- some are related to the readings of the day, others to current events. Father Connolly brings the topic up and asks the parishioners to voice their opinions.
Although at first Gately was unsure about these dialogue homilies, “I grew to really, really enjoy it,” she said.
“It makes the parish grow much closer because you get to know [people’] opinions and their views,” she said. “It’s much more personal than just sitting in the pews and greeting each other.”
“I am as proud as punch to be a Catholic -- and I feel sorry for those who aren’t,” commented Gately. “My faith has always been there. It’s a part of who I am.”
Growing up in Dorchester in the 1950s, Gately recalled how the entire neighborhood had faith.
“We were lace-curtain Irish in Dorchester back then,” she said.
But now society is totally different, she added.
“It’s very hard in this day and age,” for young people to be involved in their faith, she said.
However, Gately believes she is fortunate to be a part of her parish, which is “growing in leaps and bounds.”
“We are a very active parish that is growing,” she said. “Growing parish -- growing community.”
In addition to attending daily Mass, Gately is a member of the St. Mary’s Women’s Club. Every month, she also assists area nurses conduct blood pressure screenings as a part of the parish’s health-based ministry.
Gately, who is single and has no children of her own, also noted that the parish has many families with young children. But according to her, the parish’s biggest gift is its “outreach to the sick and bereaved.”
“Father Connolly has a way of reaching out to people when they are hurting the most,” she said. “I think that’s his biggest gift.”
“He’s going to be missed something fierce,” she added.