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THE 93rd ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRST MEMORIAL MASS AT ST. MARY'S CEMETERY
(Photos by Rod Phillips)

Parishioner Martha Phillips made a discovery in the archives of the Boston Globe regarding the beginning of the tradition of having an outdoor Mass at our parish cemetery of St. Mary’s on Memorial Day:

“An outdoor Mass will be celebrated on Monday, May 31st, at 10:30 o’clock, at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Needham, under the auspices of the Church of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes, Newton Upper Falls, Rev. Dennis Donovan, pastor of the church, announced today. This is the first time that Memorial Day services of this nature have been held in this section. A similar altar will be erected in the cemetery.” — May 21st, 1926

“Under the auspices of the Church of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes, Newton Upper Falls, there will be an outdoor military mass on Monday morning in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Needham, where an altar will be erected in the midst of the graves of the veterans. Rev. Dennis Donovan, pastor, will be the celebrant of the mass.” — May 26th, 1926

Thus the tradition of the Memorial Day Mass at St. Mary’s Cemetery began. This year was the 93rd Anniversary of that first Memorial Day Mass.

The Year 1926 was only eight years after the end of World War I (1914-1918), the “Great War”, or, “The War to End All Wars”, as it was hopefully called in the 1920s, before the outbreak of a second, more terrible World War (1939-1945).

In 1954 (which was a Marian Year, the 100th Jubilee of the Dogmatic Definition of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in 1854), a plaque was dedicated on the volcanic rock there in St. Mary’s, which has the figures of the Pietà and angels atop it, in memory of all the veterans buried in the cemetery’s consecrated ground. Each Memorial Day American flags are placed at the grave of each veteran so it can be seen just how many veterans there are at St. Mary’s. 

On May 30th, 1952 Cardinal Cushing dedicated a new outdoor altar at St. Mary’s, which is still in existence although no longer used for the Memorial Day Mass. The photo below shows this altar as it looked on Memorial Day of this year. 

The following photographs show the observance of Memorial Day at St. Mary’s this year. The Mass was offered on a portable wooden altar under the white tent. 

Following the Mass, we had a time of fellowship and refreshment in the cemetery garage-office.  

I want to express my heartfelt thanks to Ron Goguen, Nick Keough, Tom Goguen and all of the dedicated staff at Guardian Estate Management who work so hard to maintain our parish cemetery. I also want to thank Margie Bibbo, who runs the cemetery office alongside the parish office, for her dedicated work and her sensitivity to the families when they come in to the office at a time of grief, and to Sharon Hogan, our parish and cemetery business manager.

Once again our parish Music Director Bobbie Hoffmann gave us a beautiful music program, with singers and a trumpeter. Our Memorial Day was filled with the consolations of faith, in expectation of eternal life and the resurrection of the dead.  

“The souls of the just are in the hand of God and no torment shall touch them”—Wisdom 3:1

 

About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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