(Braintree, Massachusetts) August 28, 2009
– The Archdiocese of Boston today released a photo slideshow and other information about Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica, site of the funeral for Senator Edward M. Kennedy on Saturday August 29.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica is widely considered one of the most beautiful churches in the Archdiocese. Its seating capacity of 1,250 also makes it one of the Archdiocese’s largest churches.
Photo Slideshow of the Basilica
: www.TheMissionChurchBoston.com | Archdiocese of Boston Website: www.BostonCatholic.org
In 1869, Boston’s Archbishop John J. Williams invited the Redemptorists to Boston. The order purchased five acres of land in Roxbury, then known as the Boston Highlands. The Redemptorists had come to Boston to establish a “mission house.” It would be a home base for priests who would be traveling missionaries to other parts of the state, the nation and to Canada.
In February 1870, the first church, a wooden structure was built. The first mass was said on January 29, 1871 and the church was dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The parish was established as a “Mission Church” from which the Redemptorists would roam far and wide preaching the Word of God. The name “Mission Church” stuck. Named after it were Mission Hill, Mission Hill Housing Project, Mission Park Housing, Mission Hill Little League and the list goes on.
People would come to Mission Church for Mass, confession, communion and magnificent ceremonies like on the Feast of Corpus Christi. So many people were attending for Mass or to visit the shine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help that the church was no longer adequate. Plans for a new church were drawn up. Ground was broken in 1874, and the cornerstone was laid in a grand ceremony on May 28, 1876. The new church was dedicated on April 7, 1878. The twin towers came later and were completed on June 17, 1910.
When the new church was built, the picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was moved from above the main altar to her special shrine. Soon the Church became known for its wonderful healings – a history that extends to this very day. The blessing of the sick began on Wednesdays in 1874 and has grown into the Wednesday novena devotions which have attracted thousands over the years. The crutches at the shrine are a testimony of the many cures that have been attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
As the neighborhood population began to rapidly grow, Mission Church was formally established as a “parish” of the Archdiocese of Boston in 1883. Mission Grammar School opened in 1889.
During WWII, the continuous novena services held at Mission Church would draw more than 25,000 people each Wednesday. That number would exceed the people who attended a Red Sox game that day. It is believed that servicemen from Mission Church by their prayerful example are responsible for helping to spread the devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help to the Philippines, where there is now a National Shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Enormous growth and spiritual impact marked the first 70 years of the parish. Thousands would attend the Wednesday novena services, and people form the entire region would come to see the parish’s Lenten plays. Over 200 young men from the parish became priests – most in the Redemptorist community, and more than 200 others entered religious communities as Sisters or Brothers. In 1954, Mission Church was honored by being named one of the 43 basilicas in the United States at that time.
Despite the changes in the Mission Hill area, the Church remains a place of enormous devotion. Countless pilgrims tune in to listen to the weekly novena on CatholicTV. Newcomers to our country bring their devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help – Haitians, for example, whose country is dedicated to Mary under this title; Nigerians, whose families have a deep devotion to Mary; and Hispanics from Latin American Countries and the Caribbean.
Mission Parish is one of the most diverse in the Archdiocese of Boston. At the same time, it serves as a real symbol of unity of the Body of Christ. Families whose presence on Mission Hill stretches back for generations worship now with the newly arriving Catholics from all parts of the world. The parish looks to the future with confidence in the intercession of Mary to bring more and more people into a community that worships God, lives in harmony, and extends help to those in need.
What is a Basilica?
Popes have conferred the status of Basilicas on prominent Catholic churches throughout the world. Basilicas are typically architecturally beautiful, popular sites for Catholic pilgrimages, and active in their prayer and sacramental life. Signs marking a basilica are the umbrellina and the bell. The colors of ornate red and gold are those traditionally associated with the Pope and Holy See.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help is the only Church named a Basilica in the Archdiocese of Boston. It is one of three basilicas in Massachusetts along with and St. Stanislaus Basilica in Chicopee and St. Joseph Basilica in Webster. There are 62 basilicas (unofficial) in the United States.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is staffed and led by the Redemptorist Order.
The formal name for the Redemptorists is The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. It was founded by Saint Alphonsus in 1732, as a clerical missionary religious institute approved by the Holy See. Its purpose is to “follow the example of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, by preaching the word of God to the poor, as He declared Himself: ‘He sent me to preach the Good News to the poor.’” Luke 4:18
The mission of the Redemptorists finds unique expression in reaching out to the marginalized, whoever and wherever they may be: young adults, alienated Catholics, poor people, immigrants, in parishes and on the streets.
In the third millennium, as in the previous centuries, extraordinary preaching is our keystone. We Redemptorists define and describe “extraordinary” in a multitude of ways but it is always seen as a tool to reach the “poor and most abandoned.” First, extraordinary means to go beyond the norm. Second, it means to aspire and to achieve a depth and breadth of quality that creates opportunities for others to experience the intimate touch of the Redeemer. Third, it means that we challenge ourselves and those we serve to truly live the Gospel in our day-to-day actions in the world. Living in community helps us always to keep “others” at the forefront of our vision. This way of life, two millennia old and modeled after Jesus who was also an itinerant preacher, is as relevant and as radical today as it was in Jesus’ time. Redemptorists, by our vision, lifestyle choices, practical approach, and profound faith show that a different way of life is possible. “To set us free” – That message, an extraordinary one, preaches silently but eloquently, not only to our primary hearers, but to everyone who experiences our charism.
The tradition of living in community also continues as something fundamental to Redemptorist life. This is our tradition and it continues even today – to live together in community in a common life of prayer, fraternity, and a striving to help one another. Our roots are practical. We continue our devotion to our Blessed Mother, based on St. Alphonsus’ The Glories of Mary. We live a Gospel life. We live it prayerfully.
The Archdiocese of Boston
About the Archdiocese of Boston: The Archdiocese of Boston was founded on April 8, 1808 and was elevated to Archdiocese in 1875. Currently serving the needs of nearly 2 million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 291 parishes, across 144 communities, educating approximately 46,000 students in its Catholic schools and 156,000 in religious education classes each year, ministering to the needs of 200,000 individuals through its pastoral and social service outreach and in support of a health care ministry that meets the needs of some 1 million patients each year. Mass is celebrated in nearly twenty different languages each week. For more information, please visit www.BostonCatholic.org.
Seating Capacity of the Upper Church: 1,250
Pastor/Rector: Rev. Raymond Collins, C.Ss.R
Contact Information: 1545 Tremont Street, Boston MA 02120 | 617-445-2600 (p) | www.TheMissionChurchBoston.com
School: Mission Grammar School | Ms. Maura Bradley, Principal | 617-442-2660 | www.MissionGrammar.org