The Children of the Famine Memorial and Remembrance Mass
Dedication and Blessing
CHARLESTOWN HISTORICAL SOCIETY and
SAINT FRANCIS de SALES DEDICATE IRISH FAMINE MEMORIAL CEREMONIES HELD SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, IN CONJUNCTION WITH 150th ANNIVERSARY of SAINT FRANCIS de SALES PARISH
For More Information, Contact: Arthur Hurley @ 617-242-2724 or Jimmy Walsh @ 617-548-2398
A fifteen-plus month joint initiative of the Charlestown Historical Society (CHS) and Saint Francis de Sales Cemetery Memorial Project Committee to site “The Children of the Famine” Memorial in the Archdiocesan Burial Ground directly behind Saint Francis de Sales Church came to a close on Sunday, September 13, when more than 600 current and former parishioners joined clergy and distinguished public Officials at the Burial Ground for the official Dedication and Blessing.
Father Daniel J. Mahoney, Pastor of Saint Francis de Sales who is now in his 43rd year of stewardship and service at Saint Francis de Sales, welcomed the Most Reverend Robert F. Hennessey, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston, who officiated at the 150th Anniversary “Remembrance Mass.” that commemorated, in part, more than 9,000 souls interred in the Cemetery on Bunker Hill. At the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop Hennessey led a public procession from the Church to the Burial Ground (aka Saint Francis’ Cemetery) at the rear of the Church and Rectory, where He then blessed the Memorial as part of the Dedication Ceremonies. A collation followed in the Bishop Lawton Hall.
The Project was undertaken with the active assistance of the Archdiocese of Boston and the Catholic Cemetery Association. Distinguished Guest Speakers included Mr. Marius Harkin of Clonmany, Donegal; the Hon. Michael Lonergan, the newly-installed Counsel General for the Irish Counsel of Boston-New England; the Hon. Thomas M. Menino, Mayor, and the Hon. Eugene L. O’Flaherty, State Representative for Charlestown and Chelsea who serves as the C-Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary for the Massachusetts Legislature. The Hon. Raymond L. Flynn of South Boston was also in attendance at both the Remembrance Mass and the Memorial Dedication.
Per the input of the Archdiocese, the Committee selected a site approximately 15 feet inside the Cemetery Main Gate at the end of the walk-way and corridor that extends from the Gate back to the Bunker Hill Street stairwell that separates the Church and the Rectory. The Memorial encompasses an eight foot-plus high traditional Celtic Cross featuring icons associated with Irish immigrant experience and stands on a supporting platform to enhance the visual impact. An adjoining Dedication Stone carries the Dedication Inscription. The selected location towers over the Cemetery and affords a panoramic view of Boston harbor; it is visible, as well, to passersby on the sidewalk on Bunker Hill Street.
The noted Dedication Inscription edited by the Committee appears as follows:
‘DEDICATED TO THE SACRIFICE AND COURAGE
OF THE CHILDREN OF THE FAMINE HERE INTERRED,
WHO PERISHED ON THE VERY THRESHOLD OF THE DREAM,
AND TO THOSE WHO FOLLOWED,
FOR THEY DARED TO LIVE THE DREAM
AND LAY THE FOOTPRINTS,
FOR OUR LIFE AND TIMES IN THIS,
“THE GREEN SQUARE MILE”
MAY GOD GRANT THEM LIFE ETERNAL’
This edited Inscription is the Committee’s attempt to properly and permanently memorialize the plight of Immigrant Famine-era children who were often of such ill health that survival was a typical fear. It also ties together as described to the Charlestown Patriot Bridge “the courage and struggles of the succeeding generations of Irish Immigrant ancestors who stayed here in Charlestown in spite of the plight of the very first arrivals, and persevered in the face of rampant repression and ethic bigotry to lay the foundation for the contemporary 20th century Irish American experience in what we now call “The Green Square Mile.”
Proceeds from the on-going sale of the Historical Society’s Irish documentary film/DVD, “The Green Square Mile – the Story of the Charlestown Irish” and accompanying Booklet will continue to be applied to the costs of the Famine Memorial until all costs are paid in full. Copies of the DVD remain available at The Cooperative Bank on Main Street. See Manager Tom Coots for your purchase. A “Pay Pal” option is available to purchase the GSM DVD and Booklet by clicking on the “Green Square Mile link” on the Charlestown Historical Society Website at http://www.charlestownhistoricalsociety.org/