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Cardinal dedicates new Pastoral Center chapel

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley pours chrism oil on the altar as part of the dedication of the Pastoral Center’s new Bethany Chapel on Oct. 1. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy

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At the start of the Pastoral Center’s chapel’s opening Mass Oct. 1, the son of the late Thomas J. Flatley handed the key to Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley.

“Your eminence, it is an honor and privilege on behalf of the Flatley family to present you with this key to the Bethany Chapel,” said Daniel T. Flatley to the cardinal as the two men stood at the chapel’s left entrance. His father, who passed away in May, donated the Braintree office building to the archdiocese.

“On behalf of the Archdiocese of Boston, I express my gratitude to Tom Flatley and the entire Flatley family for this wonderful gift that will be such a grace to our Church,” the cardinal said, taking the key. “Thank you and God bless you.”

In his homily, the cardinal said the ceremony of dedicating the altar was really a re-dedication. “Every altar is just a new leaf in the table that Jesus used at the Last Supper. It is just an extension of the altar of Calvary, and that is what we are here to do, to celebrate that there is a part of that altar that stretches into this space that makes it holy for us.”

The name of the chapel comes from the town of Bethany, where Jesus visited his friends Martha, Mary and Lazarus, he said. “It was there that the Lord renewed himself and was refreshed in their company.”

Jesus formed a family of discipleship with the two sisters and brother and above the altar are the words Martha spoke to Mary on one of his visits: “Magister advent vocat te.”

“‘The master is here and he is calling you.’ In our Bethany too, we know the master is here and he is calling us. He is calling us to share his table and to share his friendship,” continued Cardinal O’Malley.

The Mass was unique because it included depositing into the altar the relics of nine saints, the anointing of the altar with oil and the inauguration of a golden dove as the chapel’s eucharistic pyx, said Deacon Patrick E. Guerrini, the assistant archdiocesan master of ceremonies, who with Deacons Leo J. Donoghue, Anthony P. Rizzuto, and James F. Greer, participated in the liturgy.

The liturgy specially calls for a deacon in red vestments to carry the relics into the service, he said. During the Mass, Deacon Greer sat next to a wood stand where he placed the tray between two candles. After the cantor completed the litany of the saints, Greer stood up and presented the tray to the cardinal containing the relics of Apostles St. Philip and St. James the Less, St. Lawrence, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, St. Gertrude the Great, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, St. Maria Goretti and St. Paul of the Cross.

Deacon Greer said he found out that morning when he arrived at the center that Deacon Guerrini had chosen him to be the custodian of the relics. “It is a great honor.”

One of the organizers of the Mass said the relics were donated from private collections by individuals inside the archdiocese, which is a common practice for occasions such as this.

After the depositing of the relics, the cardinal removed his outer vestments down to his white alb around which he tied a red cord, called a gremial, which symbolizes wearing an apron. After pouring a pool of chrism oil on the altar he slowly rubbed it into the wood surface, working his way around the altar clockwise.

When the cardinal was finished anointing the altar, he returned to his vestments as three Sister Disciples of the Divine Master wiped the altar down with white towels and then covered it with a cloth in preparation for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

After the service, Sister M. Fede Tanno, SDDM, said she was happy to be part of the preparation of the altar. “The altar is where we celebrate Christ as the complete sacrifice: victim, altar and priest.”

“It is always special for me when I see the oil hit the wood and give off that special shine,” said George E. “Butch” Razoyk, the president of North Andover’s Architectural Design Concepts and the designer of the chapel space.

“The altar is made from ebony and cherry wood of the altar with the top surface inset with Carpathian elm burl taken from a diseased section of the tree.”

This part of the tree is not only beautiful for its unique patterns and rarity, but it has a personal meaning for Razoyk, which is why he always chooses it for altars he installs, he said. “It represents (that) we as participants are all sick coming to the Lord’s table to be healed.”

At the end of Communion, as the cantor sang “Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All,” Deacon Greer placed the eucharistic wafers into the dove hanging over the altar. Deacon Guerrini said the dove was made in Spain for the chapel and harkens back to the practice of the early Church to use doves, rather than the familiar tabernacle.

Filing out of the service, Flatley was approached by friends and well-wishers, shaking his hand and thanking him for his family’s support of the Church. “It was a beautiful Mass. It was just gorgeous. I was just honored to be a part of it in my small way. It is too bad my father wasn’t here to see it, but maybe he was seeing it through my eyes. It is a great occasion. Just beautiful,” he said.

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