|~ St. Christine's History ~|
Saint Christine's Church
Since 1928 Catholics in Marshfield attended Mass at either St. Mary's in Scituate or St. Theresa's summer mission in Humarock. By the 1940's nearly 300 families were attending Mass regularly at St. Theresa's. In 1944 Reverend Edmund Moran was appointed by his eminence Richard Cardinal Cushing as Pastor of Marshfield Hills. Upon his arrival, Fr. Moran saw that the remote location of St. Theresa's Chapel would not be suitable for a new parish. A better location with improved access to the community had to be found. A barn, on Rt. 3A in Marshfield Hills, which was formerly used by W. Torrey Little as an antique shop became the first site for the new parish.
From everywhere, people contributed furnishings for the new church. The altar came from St. Mary's in Scituate and the Stations of the Cross from St. Ambrose Church in Dorchester. Father Moran, who was also an architect, used his skill to fashion an altar rail from stair banisters and the center lighting from a huge wheel which hung gracefully from the ceiling. Even the pews had a past, as Father Moran managed to salvage them from a condemned school building.
The Sisters of St. Matthew's in Dorchester made the linen and veil for the Tabernacle and the Tabernacle Society of Emmanuel College presented him with a complete set of vestments, a ciborium, a chalice and other altar linens. Other renovations were made in time, including a balcony that was also designed by Father Moran. Adjacent to the Church was an attractive Cape Cod Colonial, which Father Moran readily converted to a functional rectory to serve his 300 winter parishioners. Assistance came to Father Moran from various quarters, not only from his flock of 300 but also from many professional contractors, engineers, and architects.
But by the 1950's "the church that was a barn" seemed to grow smaller with the continued expansion of the parish flock. Father Moran was succeeded by Father Daniel McCarthy.
In 1948 Father Daniel Flynn became pastor. In early 1958 Father Flynn visited the Chancery for permission and funds to build an addition to his church. He returned with instructions to build an entirely new church and rectory.
There was then, as there is now a very active organization of parishioners year-round which ran many fundraisers, from card parties to bazaars to spaghetti suppers. These activities formed a vital base for the building of the new church. Thirty four acres of land in the vicinity of Route 3A and Pine St was purchased and the foundation was dug in September of 1959. On November 13, 1960 an impressive ceremony with Richard Cardinal Cushing was held to dedicate the church. Before 750 persons, His Eminence pronounced the words, "Thou art Peter and upon thy rock I will build by church." Among the group of distinguished visitors was our first pastor, Monsignor Edmund A. Moran
By 1970 Father Flynn's long tenure as pastor was ending and the new church was nearly paid off. In his 22 years as our spiritual leader, St. Christine's more than doubled in size to 750 families. Father Flynn was replaced by Father Charles Sheehy just as the decrees in Vatican II were becoming enfleshed in American parishes. The Mass was now celebrated in English and the altar was turned to face the people. But the most significant and profound change was in granting the laity the privilege of distributing Holy Communion. Because of Father Sheehy's gentle shepherding during these years, much of the polarization experienced in other parishes was avoided at St. Christine's. It was his consistent message that it was the continuing presence of Christ and not "the changes in the church" that was the center of our parish life. In 1974, Father Sheehy was succeeded by Father John Foley.
Father George Connolly (pastor, 1975-1987) continued to reconcile the changes of Vatican II with his idea of "church community." As a priest who envisioned his role as the "spiritual father" of his parish, he was both a man of prayer and a "man-on-the-go." Well known for his frequent, unannounced visits to his parishioners' homes, he would arrive by car or by bicycle. This was his way of learning about the concerns of the parishioners, and becoming aware of their talents.
The professional staff at St. Christine's also grew under Father Connolly's leadership. Sister Katrina was the first parish director of religious education. Enrollment in the parish CCD program grew to over a thousand students with a teaching staff of more than one hundred twenty five volunteers. St. Christine's was one of the first parishes south of Boston to have women serving in full time parish ministry.
Many of St. Christine's annual events, like the Parish Christmas Bazaar, began in the mid-seventies. Other traditions born out of this period of our history are still with us today. The joining of hands across the aisles during the Lord's Prayer at Mass, and the adoption of St Matthews of Dorchester as our sister parish. You may remember that St. Matthew's provided altar linens for the first St. Christine's church that Fr. Moran built.
Looking back, we see that the touchstones of Father Connolly's ministry became the touchstone of St. Christine's: faith, hospitality, openness to the Spirit, gratitude, and the calling forth and affirmation of each person's gifts. Father Connolly's 12 years as pastor came to a close in 1987 when he was appointed pastor of St Mary's in Dedham.
Representatives from the Archdiocese invited the people of St. Christine's to gather and determine the type of individual needed to succeed Father Connolly. Reverend Francis A. Regan, S.T.D., was chosen to fill this void. Father Regan had served as a professor at St. John Vianney Seminary in Buffalo, N.Y., and at Pope John XXIII Seminary for Delayed Vocations in Weston. Before assuming the pastorate of St. Christine's, he was pastor at St. Bridget's in Maynard for ten years.
Father Regan's primary concern was the CCD program and it's ever increasing student body. Upon the retirement of Margaret McNamara, Mrs. Jean Godin was appointed CCD Director. Teacher training was initiated by Mrs. Godin along with the ever- expanding programs for parents in the sacramental years as well as Family Life programs for parents and students together. In 2000 the number of student attending CCD had grown to 1400 with 138 teacher.
Father Keymont, parochial vicar at St. Christine's developed the Parish Youth Ministry Program so that high school students would have an opportunity to continue in the life of the parish in the post-confirmation years. The program is three-tier, communing the spiritual, educational and social life of our teenagers - also of special note is the Senior Leadership Retreat for students in grades 11 and 12. Those selected make a four-day retreat during the summer so that they may be qualified as trained leaders who conduct retreats for students in grades 9 and 10. This is the only program of its kind in the archdiocese, and it becomes a source of Eucharistic Ministers, Lectors, and CCD Teachers.
Father Regan instituted a program for Adult Religious Education, one feature being the annual "Theology For A Summer's Evening," with different topics presented each year by Fathers Regan, Keymont and Schissel who has been a visiting summer priest with St. Christine's for 10 years.
The RCIA program begun by Father Connolly flourish under Father Regan. In 1990, he invited Mary Doolan and Barbara McRae to assume the ever-growing responsibilities as pastoral associates. Mrs. Dottie Grury came onboard later as a pastoral associate and has continued to coordinate the baptismal instructions for parents. Mrs. Grury also works with Mrs. Doolan to direct the bereaved ministry.
In October of 1989, the sanctuary of St. Christine's was renovated bringing the altar closer to the people. Significant maintenance operations were undertaken at St. Theresa's Chapel with the establishment of the chapel committee.
Since the initial writing of this history, Father Keymont was appointed as pastor of St Ann's Church in Dorchester and was succeeded by Father Vincent P. Doolan as Parochial Vicar. Father Doolan continued the work Father Keymont had started with the support of Mrs. Claire McManus but was called, somewhat prematurely, to be the pastor at St. Joseph's Church in Quincy. Father Henry Yanju was appointed to replace Fr. Doolan and he is now our current Parochial Vicar. Fr. Yanju was born and raised in Nigeria where he was a religious brother with the Dominican order for 5 years. He left the Dominicans and came to the United States 15 years ago, where he decided to study at St. John's Seminary for the Archdiocese of Boston. He was the first African ordained for the Archdiocese of Boston in 1996. His prior assignments were five years at St. Mary's Church in Waltham and one year at St. John's the Evangelist in Winthrop.
In the summer of 2002 the main church at St. Christine's was renovated with new paint, carpeting and refurbished pews. During that time parishioners attended mass at St. Theresa's chapel in Humarock.
In January of 2005 Father Francis Regan retired after 55 years of devoted service and was succeeded by Father Thomas Walsh.
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