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  • Aug
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Nazareth continues Assumption tradition

Posted By August 21, 2014 | 1:22 pm | Lead Story #2

By Tanya Connor

LEICESTER – Devotion, tradition, memories.
These still mark the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at McAuley Nazareth Home for Boys.
After the annual outdoor Mass at the grotto, Marie Cecchini stopped in front of the statues of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette.
“I’ve been coming out here for 72 years,” said the 72-year-old from Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Ann Parish in Worcester. “When we were born we’d come out here in baby carriages. We’d make a whole day of it – we had picnics. This is a special time. We wouldn’t miss this no matter where we were.”
Last year she and her husband, Al, missed the Mass, but came to the grotto and did the Stations of the Cross, she said.
“We always looked forward to it,” said her mother, Rose Turco, adding that she thought she first came in 1939, the year she graduated from high school.
Someone would bring a truck to Shewsbury Street in Worcester so Our Lady of Mount Carmel parishioners who didn’t have cars could get there, she said. Gradually more people got to know about it.        “Everybody waited for this particular day and they planned for it,” she said. It meant so much in “the old country” that when Italians came here they celebrated the feast day here, she said.
After she moved to Maine she came to Nazareth Home if she was here in August, she said. And she rejoiced in being here this year.
“You couldn’t ask for a better day,” she said. “And I’m glad the bishop was able to come. It’s a beautiful day for it, and it’s a nice time to remember. When I had my last child in 1948, I was so sick.”
She was pregnant, came anyway, but couldn’t make it to the top of the hill where the Stations of the Cross are, she said.
“I hope, with the help of God, we can continue coming,” she said.
Aimee Taberner came back from Arlington for the occasion. She came with her mother, Phyllis Taberner.
“It was always something that meant a lot to me,” the daughter said. It was about Mary, women, nature, a nice summer walk, flowers and “our community.”
“There was a wide variety of flowers,” she said. “It was always on my birthday eve.”
This was the second year the Sisters of Mercy held just the morning Mass instead of a morning and evening Mass for the feast day, said Sister Janet Ballentine. She said weather and difficulty in organizing the celebration led to holding just the morning one.
In 2010 Sister Janet retired as executive director of Nazareth Home, the last Sister of Mercy to retire from the home they founded in 1901, she said. There are sisters on the board and they volunteer now at Nazareth, a residential treatment center for boys with special emotional needs, she said. She said the care of the children continues in the spirit of the Sisters of Mercy.
The boys were lectors and altar servers this year, as they have traditionally been at the morning Mass, Sister Janet said.
Msgr. Edmond T. Tinsley, who still serves Nazareth Home as chaplain in his retirement, concelebrated with Bishop McManus and Father Paul J. Tougas, also retired.
Msgr. Tinsley hasn’t missed a year, Sister Janet said.
“He would always celebrate the morning Mass,” she said. If the bishop couldn’t celebrate the evening Mass, he’d celebrate that too.
In his homily this year, Bishop McManus said the theological essence of the celebration was that where Mary has gone, people still on earth hope to follow.
He spoke of her response to God at the Annunciation, “Let it be done unto me according to your will” and of her standing at the foot of her Son’s cross years later.
“Everyone has the common vocation to become a saint,” he said. Mary provides the example – by staying close to Jesus – he said.
“To get out of bed every day,” to try to follow Jesus, “that is the way we become a saint,” he said. “But we can’t do it on our own.” That’s why Christ left the sacraments for Christians, he said.
He told the congregation that as they celebrate the Assumption they should be filled with hope.
He said that as he was preparing his homily, he received a prayer in the mail, so he shared it with the gathering. It talked about God giving his Church Mary, in whom Christians find consolation and strength.