by Rick Winterson
Father Francis Anthony Matignon, in whose memory the St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery was built, died 200 years ago yesterday – September 19, 1818. Fr. Matignon had served as Pastor over all of New England for 26 years. His friend and fellow priest, Bishop of Boston Jean Cheverus, saw to the construction of the Chapel, where Fr. Matignon is now buried. With its high regard for memorials and past history, South Boston celebrated the 200th Anniversary of both Fr. Matignon’s passing and the groundbreaking for the Chapel in 1818 last weekend.
Friday at noontime, Fr. Robert Casey, the Pastor of St. Brigid Church, which now includes the Chapel and the Cemetery, opened the weekend’s observances with Mass for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The Mass was followed by guided tours of the Chapel and Cemetery. Among the visitors were nine members of South Boston en Accion, brought there by Douglas Tyler, the Program Coordinator. After Benediction late on Friday afternoon, several hours of silent meditation ensued,
Saturday’s observances opened with a Mass to Our Lady of Sorrows, and a recitation of the Rosary. Saturday afternoon saw a Civic Ceremony on the Chapel grounds, attended by several hundred people. This was led by Congressman Steve Lynch. Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap., blessed the gathering. The keynote speaker was Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, himself originally from South Boston. Other speakers included Fr. Robert Casey, City Councilor-at-Large Michael Flaherty, District 2 City Councilor Ed Flynn, and the Hon. Ray Flynn. Ray spoke of the indelible immigrant stories that have made America what it is. A moment of silence closed out the Civic Ceremony; Kevin Conroy rendered “Amazing Grace” to conclude
Cardinal Sean was the Anniversary Mass celebrant, along with Bishop Dooher and Fr. Casey. The parish’s combined choirs, with trumpet and other instruments, made inspiring music. The Sanctuary was a portrait of beauty. The reading was the Epistle of St. James; the Gospel theme was Christ asking the Apostles, “Who am I?” Cardinal Sean’s sermon expanded these to the present day – he is an excellent preacher. After the Mass, in some very personal touches, the Cardinal stood with BPD Commissioner Gross at the grave of Boston’s first Irish-born police officer. He spoke with John Healey, who served as an altar boy. Sr. Angela Krippendorf, OSU, from the Ursuline Convent in Lewiston, Maine, was recognized. She came to the Mass because the only woman actually buried within the Chapel is Sister Saint Henry, also an Ursuline nun who had died in 1834. A collation on Tudor Street ended Saturday’s observances.
On Sunday, September 16, a noontime Mass, celebrated by Bishop Robert Hennessey, ended the Anniversary weekend. This Mass was in honor of the Simon of Cyrene Society, who welcome all members of the disabled community through spiritual support. Sr. Peggy Youngclaus, the Society’s guiding spirit, watched it all, including the readings by Lisa from the Neighborhood House. It was a fitting close to the Anniversary weekend.