It was an event filled with joy – there’s no other word but “Joy” for Father Joseph M. White’s 25th Anniversary as a dedicated Catholic priest. Last Saturday, around 500 people, many of them from South Boston, joined him in a jam-packed Mass of Gratitude at St. Joseph Catholic Church, which is located in Father Joe’s new parish in the West End on Cardinal O’Connell Way. A sumptuous, and again a jam-packed, Celebration then followed in the Church Hall. Fr. Joe’s 25th was truly spirited, in the deepest meaning of that word.
The two early readings in the Mass came from Elijah and St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. Father Joe read Luke’s Gospel of the village in Samaria, where each listener asked Jesus questions about obligations, and was answered, “Put down everything and follow Me …” – a very fitting quotation after Father Joe’s 25 years as a priest. When he spoke, Father Joe recalled many of the humorous incidents during his priesthood. He profoundly thanked all those who worked on his 25th Anniversary Celebration, with special thanks to his mother and to those who shared with him their most treasured moments – high, low, joyful, sorrowful, and so on.
In a charming anecdote, Father Joe mentioned that the green vestments he wore at his 25th Anniversary Mass were originally made by his mother. He hadn’t used them for five years; he then thanked Sister Agnes Wan, who recently completed 50 years as a nun, for patching and reseaming the vestments.
Father Joe is well known for his dedication to ministering to those in recovery. At the end of his Silver Anniversary Mass, he knelt at the altar and in humble gratitude, he recited the Serenity Prayer – “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change …”
The word “sumptuous” well describes the gathering after the Mass in St. Joseph Hall. Italian and Chinese banquet tables, accompanied by bounteous sandwiches and two huge Anniversary cakes, treated the Celebration’s guests. There was an overwhelming atmosphere of cheer and good fellowship. The brief program consisted solely of Father Joe’s mother Kay, who is 93, saying to the crowd, “God is good, Joey (Father Joe, of course). I’m now living on borrowed time, and I’m flabbergasted at seeing all of you. God bless you all.” Amen.
What a wonderful event.