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  Thursday, March 26, 2015
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The 2006 Simon of Cyrene Breakfast
By Rick Winterson

     This year’s fundraising breakfast was hosted by Fr. Tom McDonnell and Sr. Peggy Youngclaus at Anthony’s Pier 4.  Music, raffles, and most of all, good fellowship prevailed.

     The Simon of Cyrene Society is now more than a generation old.  Over 25 years ago, Msgr. Thomas McDonnell, “Father Tom”, and Sr. Peggy Youngclaus, SND, founded the Society, in response to some urgent needs – the needs among the physically and mentally disabled community for social and spiritual support, home visits and celebrations, and advocacy.  The Society also provides vacation and respite opportunities to the families of those who are disabled.

     Last Sunday, the Simon of Cyrene Society held its annual fundraising breakfast in the second-floor ballroom of Anthony’s Pier 4.  There was music, good food, and a truly elegant view of the Harbor, helped out by clear, cool weather, as well as by the tremendous efforts of the Cyrene volunteers.

     The Simon of Cyrene Society was originally founded with the support of the Catholic Church, but today, its members number more than 500, and they come from 55 different communities around Boston.  There are members from every race and creed.  The Cyrenians live a life of serenity and courage, even though they are disadvantaged.  Much of this comes from the love and acceptance shown to them through the Society.  Among the activities are monthly gatherings, Holiday parties, and vacations at the Society’s homes in Brewster.

     The name “Simon of Cyrene” of course refers to the man who was enlisted to help Christ carry his cross in the Gospel of Luke.  Simon has come to symbolize anyone who helps the helpless – “Whatever you do for the least of my brethren …”

     There is also a strong historical tradition of helping the disadvantaged in America.  Despite their harsh Calvinism, the Puritans who first settled in Boston in 1630 were very charitable.  They considered that foundling children, badly injured persons, and the mentally disadvantaged were sent by the angels of God to test them, and they took good care of such people.  To do otherwise would be to “break charity”, as they termed it.

     So, the Simon of Cyrene Society carries on a mission that finds its roots in both spirituality and colonial American history.

     The fundraising breakfast was actually a celebration.  Three hundred Cyrene loyalists showed up.  Music was provided by Mike and Larry Reynolds – fiddle, guitar, and vocals.  Mr. President, William Bulger, sang along a few times (Tantum Ergo?) and then began poking a little fun.  Do you really think he has no idea who Steve Tyler is?

     Among the guests was the Mayor, who praised the Cyrene volunteers “for carrying out God’s work.”  Bulger then introduced Sr. Evelyn Hurley, who adorned the faculty at St. Brigid School for so many years.  He called her a “living sermon”.  She thanked everyone for all those wonderful years.  Sr. Maryadele of Laboure spoke briefly, as did Sen. Jack Hart. 

     Humanitarian Awards, named for Sr. Peggy, went to the Little Sisters of the Poor and to Jack Forbush of Mt. Washington Bank, which is a substantial supporter of the Cyrene Society.  Marlene Norman was chosen to receive the 2006 Sissy Devine “Moms” Award.

     The drawing based on signed $5 bills – technically illegal, but the crowd was absolved by Father Tom – was won by Audrey Kinneally.

Top Of Page

A member of the Cyrene

Society helping at the door

and greeting the Breakfast attendees.

Co-founder of the Simon

of Cyrene Society, Sister

Peggy Youngclaus and Msgr. Thomas ("Father Tom")


The Flynn family arrives -

Ray, Jr., Cathy, and Ray - no strangers either to South

Boston or to the Cyrene Society.

Jack Forbush, Mt. Washington Bank's V.P. of Community Affairs, proudly shows off his Youngclauss Humanitarian Award.

Emcee William Bulger regales the crowd with one-liners and songs accompanied by Michael and Larry Reynolds.