The story of the Catholic Church in Walpole follows closely the pattern of growth of the Archdiocese of Boston, just as the Town of Walpole followed the general pattern of growth of the towns within the Mass. Bay Colony.
When the first settlers came to Massachusetts in the 1620's, 30's and 40's they had nothing but what they could bring in their limited baggage and very little money. Massachusetts had two things Europe needed: forests and fish. So, hamlets sprang up along the shore wherever harbors could shelter their fishing boats, and other settlements followed the retreating forests inland. Walpole was one of these, inland about twenty miles from the coast. From earliest days we read of crude mills here along the Neponset - saw mills for lumber, grist mills for food. The few families who worked them lived nearby.
Walpole developed along the post road to Providence as the southern extension of the Town of Dedham, which in its turn had been an extension of Boston. For many years Walpole was a part of South Dedham. The first homesteaders came to Walpole about 1663, but it was not until 1724 that the Great and General Court of the Province of Massachusetts Bay passed:
"An Act for the Dividing of the Town of Dedham and making a new Town there by the Name of Walpole....
"Whereas the South Part of the Town of Dedham within the County of Norfolk is compresetly settled with inhabitants who labor under great difficulties by their remoteness from a Place of Public Worship...
"Provided that the inhabitants of said Town of Walpole do within the space of eighteen months from the publication of this Act, Erect and Furnish a suitable house for the Public Worship of God, and...Procure and settle a learned Orthodox Minister of good conservation and make provision for his comfortable and honorable support.
"That the inhabitants of the Town of Walpole...are empowered to access all lands...one penny per acre towards the charge of building the Meeting House and settling and maintaining a minister there."
In this incorporation Walpole typified the elder town of Massachusetts Bay. In the original colony the town grew around a congregation, hence the name Congregationalist. The civil unit was established to provide taxation to pay the minister's salary, and in course of time, the teacher's. Walpole was, therefore, a definite congregation, a group of hard-working, God-fearing men and women - Protestant in their belief and their philosophy.Transients moved into Walpole through the first hundred years following the demands for laborers in mills, woods or farms. They were transient workers of a different race and faith and made no impression upon the tightly-knit town. No mention of them appears in its town records. They were neither numerous enough nor permanent enough to attract attention. They paid no taxes for they owned no land. The first Catholics came to Walpole sometime in the years of 1755-56 as displaced persons. That year, the English Navy expelled the neutral French Acadians from what is now Nova Scotia, breaking up families and scattering their members among the settlements of the eastern seaboard - a story Longfellow has told in Evangeline.
A large number were dropped in Boston. The Great and General Court, not knowing what to do with them, in turn divided them among the towns of the colony. Eight adults and three children were sent to Walpole. Ill, destitute, unable to speak the language, they were a problem to the town. They had to be housed in a community with no spare houses, fed and nursed.
For some years they remained in the town, very often in need of public charity, always hoping and petitioning to be returned to their own land. After a wait of ten years, the Acadians of the Bay Colony banded together to walk back through the forests of Maine to their own land. With this group went the Walpole Acadians, and so disappeared from town history.
They left behind at least one dead man buried in the old cemetery at the corner of Main and Kendall Streets.
In the roster of Walpole soldiers of the American Revolutionary army are names of decidedly Irish derivation. In 1754 Nicholas Buckley was a provincial volunteer. In the Continental army were Edward Murfee and Timothy Callahan. Who these were, whether residents or transient workers, Irish Protestants or Irish Catholics, the blank pages of history do not tell.
Just at the close of this period a notable event fastened the attention of the town for one brief moment upon a great Catholic figure. When Bishop Cheverus left Boston for Europe a large delegation of the men of Boston walked beside his carriage as far as Walpole. The Bishop went on to France to become Archbishop of Bordeaux, and later a Cardinal.
By 1824, the beginning of the second hundred years of Walpole, a new influence had been brought to bear upon the town. Water driven mills were adapted to make textiles and all their related products. There were many of these in Walpole where, in a series of ten water privileges or mill sites, the Neponset has a combined fall of 155 feet. There were many, also, in the neighboring towns of Easton, Mansfield, Foxboro and Franklin. These small mills, like greater ones in Fall River and Taunton, needed workers, "hands." When there were not enough local people available, these hands were recruited from the tide of immigration beginning to flow westward from Europe.
Most of these workers were transient, unmarried men, here today and gone tomorrow. They made as little impression upon the life of the town as did the Acadians half a century earlier.
Yet since it is characteristic of human nature to make homes where there is work, it is not improbable that some Catholic families, Irish or perhaps French, settled in the town. Gradually, for lack of spiritual attention, their children drifted away from the Church they had never really known and were absorbed into Protestant congregations.
Even as late as 1833 the Congregational Church was supported by public taxation. In that year the Massachusetts legislature severed the connection between the church and the State of Massachusetts.
There were a few Catholics in Walpole in these early industrial days. Here and there in the old burying ground at the corner of Main and Kendall Streets are a few stones upon which are inscribed the letters R.I.P. There too, are found a cross or two, a cluster of grapes, a sheaf of wheat, symbols of the Blessed Sacrament.
Then, too, in the records of Saint Augustine's parish in South Boston, established in 1819 by Father Matignon, are records of marriages and baptisms of residents of Walpole.
The first mention of Catholics in Walpole comes, not from town history, but from an account of Reverend Peter Connolly, a young priest who from his parish in Sandwich on Cape Cod, maintained a roving apostolate among the transient Irish mill hands of southeastern Massachusetts. It is recorded that several times in the years between 1830 and 1832 he visited Easton, Foxboro, and Walpole on horseback, caring for the spiritual needs of such Catholics as he found there, saying Mass, administering the sacraments.
Does it seem strange that Walpole should have been tended from Sandwich seventy miles away, rather than from Boston, scarcely twenty? It was, on the contrary, quite natural. At this time in the whole diocese of Boston, which embraced as well Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and part of Connecticut, there were but fourteen priests besides the Bishop. Of necessity, these were widely scattered. The few who were in Boston caring for that heavily populated section were much too busy to go out into the country. Sandwich on Cape Cod was a glass-making center. The workers, recruited directly from East Cambridge, were originally glass workers from County Waterford in Ireland. Sandwich had become in the twenties a small but flourishing congregation and a new church was built there. From this center Father Peter Connolly, newly ordained and full of apostolic zeal, roamed the mill centers in search of Irish workmen, doing missionary work, for at that time the United States was a missionary country. Many Irish from Waterford arrived first at Sandwich and thence made their way to large centers, Fall River and Taunton, and to smaller ones, Foxboro, Wrentham and Walpole. Indeed, many Walpole families of today trace their ancestry back to County Waterford.
No mention is made in the unwritten history of the parish, handed down from one generation to another, of any serious opposition to the ministrations of Father Connolly or of any of the priests who followed him through the succeeding years. Yet in 1832 the Congregational Church was still the official church of Massachusetts and the salaries of its ministers were paid out of public tax funds. Perhaps the Mass and the sacraments were performed so quietly no one was aware of what was going on. No one seems to have cared unduly, or to have been unduly alarmed.Yet in Massachusetts throughout the forties and continuing almost to the Civil War there was directed against Catholics a rising tide of political and religious opposition, known commonly as the "Know Nothing Movement." There were several reasons for this.
First there was the threat of sheer numbers. The ever swelling influx of Irish was arousing fear that they might overwhelm the established citizenry.
There was also another, an inherited complication. The native Protestant population of Massachusetts had an English background. They were descendants of that race which had fought for years to compel the Irish to accept a status as a dependent and quiescent province within the British Empire. For hundred of years the Irish had resisted this status, and had risen in each generation to fight long and bloodily against the forces which were to them still after so many centuries "the invader." It was inevitable that conflict should arise between their descendants in the new world, for none of them as yet had come to know the full meaning of the word "American."
Walpole was quite typical of its age and generation. There was opposition to the newcomers; that was to be expected. It was bitter rather than violent, due perhaps to the fact that the southeastern section of the diocese grew very slowly. The industries of Walpole were small and diverse. The number of hands they needed to employ was limited. The building of the railroad brought numbers of young Irishmen in its wake but these centered in Dedham and in Norwood, rather than in Walpole. The Irish who came to Walpole were few, and therefore were not so grave a problem. Like the Acadians who preceded them, for many years they drifted across the life of the town.
In the years of the 1830's, 40's, and 50's, through the episcopacies of Bishop Benedict Fenwick and his successor, John Fitzpatrick, the story of Walpole and its neighbors was the story of small missions attached, or rather detached, from one city parish after another as the number of priests and churches grew. Even during the years of Father Peter Connolly, Walpole was a station of Saint Augustine's in South Boston. There is no record that any priest from this parish ever said Mass in Walpole, although there are records to prove that people from Walpole went there for baptisms and marriages.
When Saint Patrick's Church was built in the south end of Boston in 1836 Walpole became a mission of that parish and remained so until 1846 when it was attached to Saint Joseph's in Roxbury, better and more affectionately known as Tommy's Rock. There for the next decade the Catholics of Walpole were baptized and married; there are records of pre-Civil War days. At this time Mass was celebrated with some degree of regularity in the Old Temperance Hall in Dedham, and later in a Universalist Church in South Dedham, now Norwood. To these some of the Catholics walked for Sunday Mass. Others, in the 1860's went to Canton.
That Irish were in Walpole in considerable numbers during Civil War days is borne out by town records. Here are but a few names so distinctively Celtic as to leave no question. Patrick Hern was killed in 1862 in the Battle of Bull Run. Patrick Driscoll appears on the roll of honor of Regiment 12. There are other names upon the roster of Regiments: John McGinnis, Patrick Flood, John Daily, Michael Griffin, Patrick Kirby and Thomas Shea, to mention but a few.
In 1866, the year after the Civil War, His Excellency John J. Williams began his long episcopate which stretched across one century well into the first decade of the next. Just previous to his accession, in 1863, to lessen the burdens upon the priests of Saint Joseph's in Roxbury, the missions of Foxboro, Wrentham, Walpole, and Mansfield were attached to North Attleboro. At this time the parish was attended by a very active priest from Greenville, Rhode Island, a Father Philip Gillick. In 1866, Father Gillick resigned from his parish at Greenville to devote all his time to North Attleboro and its flock of little stations.
With Father Philip Gillick the Catholic parish of Walpole, as we know it, really begins. He was not the first pastor of Walpole but he is remembered as the first priest to care for the religious needs of Walpole with any degree of permanency and continuity. Because of his learning and his integrity he was one of the best-known citizens of North Attleboro in his day. Rain or shine, summer or winter, he traveled in his familiar horse and buggy over rough roads to tend his missions. He said one Mass each Sunday in his church at North Attleboro. The second he said in rotation at one of his stations, so that the people of Walpole had Mass once a month in their own town. On other Sundays they had a choice of walking to Dedham, Roxbury, Canton, or one or other of the missions.Father Gillick said Mass at Walpole at private houses. We do not know whether he tried to secure a public building as he did in Franklin, or a mill-room as did Father Gouesse in a later day. We do know that he said Mass in the home of Roger Cunningham, who lived first in a section called Honey Pot, in a house which stood near what is today the junction of Winter Street and Route 1-A opposite the entrance to the Norfolk Prison Colony, and later in a house to which he moved on Stone Street. We next hear of Mass being said in a more central location in the home of Michael Buckley, a small red house which stood where today there is a block of stores opposite the Town Hall.
Parishioners of the day told of Father Gillick's help and strength at the time an epidemic struck, a mysterious fatal sickness brought from Russia in some badly cured hides, a plague which felled worker after work in the hair mill of Manning, Glover, and Cram on South Street. Day after day Father Gillick toiled, side by side with Doctor Stone (for whom the street is named), to save the workers' lives.
The depth of his parishioners' devotion to Father Gillick is shown by this story, told here not because it is true - and it may be - nor because it is not true - and it may not be - but to show that the Catholics of Walpole paid him the supreme tribute Catholics can pay to a priest's work. They credited him with a miracle. It was performed during the epidemic, a simple thing and that weighs heavily towards its authenticity. When men invent stories they are usually fantastic; when God performs one it is apt to be a very simple, natural thing. One of the afflicted workers was at the point of death. Father Gillick anointed him and immediately the sick man was cured, and in the course of a few hours was about his daily occupations.
Father Gillick remained in charge of Walpole until 1872. That year the new diocese of Providence was established. Its dividing line was drawn at North Attleboro. Father Gillick became a member of the diocese of Providence. Walpole and its neighbors remained within the Boston archdiocese. A new parish was created with Walpole as its center, and the other three as missions attached to it. To this as pastor came Father Francis Gouesse.
Father Gouesse was typical of the many priests who served in the first years of the Boston diocese, when the demand for priests was far in excess of the supply, when the few native clergy had to be supplemented by priests from Catholic dioceses of Europe who volunteered for the missions. It was the land-lease plan in reverse. Some of the priests of these early years came from Ireland; some from Italy; most of them came from France.
One of these was Father Francis Gouesse, born in Laval in 1817. He studied theology in Saint Sulpice but before ordination came to America in search of a bishop. Although we have no documentary proof of it, tradition has it that he was ordained in 1845 by Bishop Blanc in New Orleans.
His first assignment was as superintendent of Saint Mary's Orphan Boys Asylum in New Orleans. After several years' service here, he volunteered for the frontier missions of Michigan and Indiana. Later he worked in New York until ill health forced him to return to France for a brief period of rest. In 1869, at the age of 52, he came to Massachusetts to relieve the pastors of several parishes, especially those of Southbridge and Randolph. In Marlboro he organized a flourishing French Canadian parish and built a church. Almost immediately upon the completion of this came his assignment to Walpole, as its first pastor.
But Walpole had neither church nor rectory. Father Gouesse, therefore, made his headquarters in Foxboro where Father Gillick had built a church and upon its destruction by fire, had rebuilt it. Before its completion the diocese of Providence had been cut off. It fell to Father Gouesse to complete the church. He remained in Foxboro until this had been done and the debt was in a fair way to be paid off. In the meantime he followed Father Gillick's example and continued to say Mass for his Walpole congregation in private houses. Among these were the homes of William Mahoney on South Street, close to the hair mill, and of Timothy Hale, where a section of the Kendall Mill now stands. Confessions were heard usually in the home of William Mahoney.
After the church in Foxboro was well under way towards independence, Father Gouesse moved to Walpole. He bought for a rectory a house at 191 Kendall Street. It was not long before Father Gouesse made the acquaintance of Mr. Jerome Bonaparte Cram, part owner of Manning, Glover and Company, manufacturers of curled hair, mattresses, cotton batting and wicking, whose mill stood on South Street. When the acquaintance had ripened into friendship, Mr. Cram offered the use of the mill for services and for Mass until such time as Father Gouesse could build a church. Not only did Mr. Cram give Father Gouesse the use of his mill, but he is said to have aided in selecting and acquiring the present site of the Blessed Sacrament Church.
In the history of the diocese which appeared about the turn of the century, there appeared a fantastic story about the secrecy and finesse Father Gouesse had to use not only to hold services but to obtain property upon which to build a church. It stated that when negotiations were in progress the priest left town with great ostentation and remained away for three months. During that time the property was bought for him by a straw man. The cold facts of the Registrar's Office in Dedham (Book 440, page 4) do not bear out this tale. There does not seem to have been any attempt at secrecy. The owner had been in possession of the property for some years and transferred it directly to the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston on May 8, 1873.
That such a story could have been told and published is evidence of the fact that some opposition did exist. It is even possible that pressure may have been brought to bear upon the owner not to sell. Such things are not unknown even in our own day, in various places and for various reasons. But no credence can be placed upon the story embroidered over the fact.
Nor can there have been too great delay in obtaining the property, for the diocese of Providence was set off February 16, 1872, and the purchase of the land at the corner of Diamond and East Streets was made in May of 1873, little more than a year later. We have no written documents upon the transaction other than the deed to the property.
Father Gillick, who was an intelligent man, knew it was but a matter of time before he would have to build a church in Walpole. His experience during the epidemic at the hair mill had given him a better acquaintance with the town and certainly with J.B. Cram, the active manager of the mill. Very probably the matter of the property had been the subject of more than one discussion between the men. When the dioceses were separated in 1872 and Father Gouesse succeeded Father Gillick, it is not improbable that Father Gillick turned over to Father Gouesse the information and perhaps the preliminary negotiations for the property, together with the good-will and friendly interest of the mill-man, old J.B., as he was called affectionately.
It was not long before the acquaintance of the mill-owner and Catholic priest grew into friendship and the established business man smoothed the way of the new pastor.
For many months Father Gouesse worked to assemble funds to start the building of the church and to place his missions of Franklin and Foxboro on a sound financial footing. Alas, calamity struck in the approved Hollywood fashion. In 1876, when Father Gouesse was deep in building the Walpole church, the Foxboro church was destroyed by fire one week after its fire insurance had lapsed. Father Gouesse replaced this church with a small barn-like structure and procured the transfer of this mission to Franklin, which he had cleared from debt and had caused to be established as an independent parish in 1877.
In November of 1874, Father Gouesse turned the first sod upon the lot on Diamond and East Streets for the future Saint Francis Church. This is the account of it as it is recalled by William Mahoney, then a little boy in primary school. One weekday morning in November - he is sure it was a weekday because it had been declared a school holiday for the Catholic children - Father Gouesse surrounded by as many of his little congregation as could take time off for the ceremony, met on the property where the location of the church had already been staked out. There he dug the first sod, followed in turn by each of the men present. Some of those whom the little boy of 1874 recalls were his father, William Mahoney, Michael Dalton, Roger Cunningham, in whose house many Masses had been said, Timothy Hale, another parishioner who had given his house for Mass, John Rooney, Patrick Smith, James Smith, Edward Cashin, Patrick Riordan, Patrick Kivlin, Peter Moore, Patrick Dalton, David O'Brien and his son James P. O'Brien, Michael Mansfield, Thomas Kannally, John Bulger, Patrick Crowley, and Mr. Gallagher of South Street.
The work of digging the cellar of Saint Francis Church, for Father Gouesse had named his new church in honor of his patron, Saint Francis of Assisi, proceeded slowly. There were no mechanized helps, no steam shovels, no bull-dozers. Moreover, there was no money except for essential needs. Many of the men contributed hours of labor instead of money; many worked with pick and shovel to save what money there was for work that called for skill. Up to the time the ground became too frozen to work, and all throughout the year following, the parishioners worked. They labored to lay the foundation, they worked to gather funds, but the church grew very slowly.
In October of 1876 a fair lasting for a week was held in Bacon Hall. A considerable sum of money was raised through the generosity and good-will of the non-Catholics as well as through the hard work of the parish. Finally in December of 1876 the basement was ready for occupancy and service. The first Mass was celebrated by Father Gouesse on Christmas Day.
The basement of the original Saint Francis Church was not elaborate. The plan called for a simple wooden frame building, large enough to seat about four hundred people. The pews were simple benches; the altar a wooden one made by a carpenter. In the front corner of the epistle side stood a wood-burning furnace which gave what heat it could to Sunday morning congregations. John Mahoney, the first janitor, did his best to keep it stoked. In this he was ably assisted by the first altar boys, Harry and Frank Lane, Thomas Mahoney, and Terrence Hennessey. About two years later, when the upper church was furnished, a one-pipe, hot-air furnace was installed and two other altar boys, William Mahoney and Daniel Dalton, were added. Somewhat later other altar boys, among them Hugh McElheney, Patrick Lane, Patrick Mahoney and William Hale were added.
While work on the basement was under way, Father Gouesse, who had been living on Kendall Street, began the construction of a rectory. By the time the basement was finished he was able to move into 10 Diamond Street. The rectory of today does not resemble very much the house Father Gouesse built. Nevertheless the original building is there. The two front offices are almost as they were. One of them was used as a morning chapel for weekday Mass during the winter months.
Work on the upper structure of the church continued; early in the winter of 1897 it was finished. The first Mass was said by Father Gouesse on Christmas of that year. The church was very simple, the altar a crude wooden one, the whole auditorium painfully bare. The work of beautifying it went on for several years. By 1884, it was fairly complete. A new altar, the gift of Monsignor Dion O'Callaghan of South Boston, long a close friend of Father Gouesse, had been installed. Stained glass windows - for the most part gifts of parish families - were set in place; the stations of the cross, also gifts of the parish, were upon the walls. Two windows, however, were the gifts of non-Catholics. One was given by George Plimpton in memory of Patrick Smith, the first Irishman he had employed, the other by Francis W. Bird, in memory of Patrick Connelley who had been killed in an accident in the Bird mill.
When in later years, a new church was being constructed in South Norwood for the Polish people of the district, Father Riley gave the altar, the stations of the cross, and the pews as a donation. They are there today, sacred relics of the old St. Francis Church.
Father Gouesse was now sixty-five years old. He had given up the missions of Foxboro and Franklin. Nevertheless his gradually failing health was being taxed by his pastoral duties, for Walpole had grown from the dozen families of 1850 to almost 350 families. So scarce were priests in the diocese, however, that it was not until twenty years later, when Father Gouesse was eighty-four years old, that an assistant was sent to help him.
The first curate sent to Walpole was a Father Fennessey, and very little is known about him. Since he, too, was in failing health, his stay was very short. In the brief month of his service he organized two choirs, one of adults, the other of children.
Father Fennessey was succeeded by newly-ordained Father James Courtney. He remained in the parish until after the death of Father Gouesse.
The first pastor was now a very old man, worn out by his single-handed work of many years, in Walpole and his earlier missions. He could no longer do the arduous duties.
He was often seen sitting in an arm chair under a maple tree which stood near the rectory and the church.
So dear did this spot under the maple become to him that he left a written request that when he died he might be buried under it with a monument to mark his grave. Father Gouesse died on January 14, 1901. He was buried under his tree; his monument had to await a later day.
But time and change and the exigencies of a growing parish cannot always respect the wishes of dead men, not even of an old, well-loved priest. When the time came to rebuild the church the grave of Father Gouesse was transferred to a new grave under the church. The spot is marked by four granite posts, set off by chains, directly below the altar. A section of the trunk of the maple tree, about four feet of it, was laid above him. And there, under the altar of the beautiful church which replaces the little wooden one he built, Father Gouesse, first pastor of Walpole, sleeps. Nor was his request for a monument forgotten. Look closely sometime at the brass plate upon the altar of the Sacred Heart. It reads: In memory of Reverend Francis Gouesse. Look closely, too, at the chalice used at Mass on Sundays and on Holy Days. It is the chalice Father Gouesse brought with him from France, the only keepsake the parish has of the devoted and saintly man who was its founder.
One week after the death of Father Gouesse the Reverend Daniel Riley came to Walpole as its second pastor. Up to this time he had been assistant in Bridgewater. Ordained in December, 1882, Father Riley had been a priest for nineteen years. Physically vigorous, spiritually strong, a student of people rather than of books, Father Riley entered upon the duties of his office with characteristic zeal. He had many excellent qualities but his kindness and sympathy were pre-eminent. His whole administration of the parish to epitomized in the manner in which he handled the matter of Father Gouesse's grave. His sympathy made him feel the poignancy of the old man's request; his sound common sense told him that sentiment should not be allowed to stand in the way of progress; his keen intelligence led him to find a way in which his predecessor's wishes could be satisfied in a greater degree than Father Gouesse had ever dreamed, and yet the new and beautiful church which Father Riley already visualized was not forced into an awkward angle because of the location of a grave.
When Father Riley took over Walpole in the first years of the century Walpole had expanded, although by some standards it was still a small parish. In a history of the diocese published in 1899 the families were distributed as follows: "Irish, 324; French, 28; Italian, 9' Portuguese, 1. There are 150 English speaking Canadians."
Because Father Riley was a young man and able to do a good deal of work, almost immediately the Archbishop attached Medfield to Walpole as a mission. This little town had been alternately part of Roxbury, Dedham, Foxboro and South Natick. It had been long isolated and there was much work to be done. Father Riley, therefore, left the routine of the main parish in the able hands of his assistant, Father Courtney, and took over the work in Medfield. This he performed faithfully until that mission was cut off and made into a separate parish in 1903.
Father Riley was the better able to do this because the material affairs of the parish were under the supervision of Mr. Michael Downing, whose vigilant care of the parish property had lightened the burdens of the old man's declining years. When Father Riley became pastor, Mr. Downing remained in charge for many more long and faithful years. He contributed much to the parish's welfare.
Father Riley had not long been pastor of Walpole when it became evident that the growing industries of the town were attracting many people, some of whom were Catholics. Saint Francis Church was fast becoming inadequate to meet their needs. The first and the easiest answer was to increase the number of Sunday Masses. This was but a temporary solution for no sooner had a Mass been added when that, also, became overcrowded. The answer was a larger church, so Father Riley began to set aside funds to enable him to start rebuilding.
It was not until 1911 that he could see his way clear towards making plans for the actual building. Then came the troublesome problem of where to locate it. The center of the Town of Walpole was where it had been for many years, around the Common and the streets which led from it. Many of the parishioners felt that the time had come to remove the church from the site Father Gouesse had selected to a more central spot. One of the members of the parish who had built a successful contracting business, Mr. Michael McCarthy, offered to Father Riley as a gift to the parish his estate on Common Street. This was an ideal spot and Father Riley was urged to accept it. However, East Walpole, another section of the town where a number of Catholic families had settled, was much dissatisfied with the prospect of a new location. In those before the automobile, distance was more important than it is today.
Father Riley decided to retain the original site. A few years later, when East Walpole was cut off from the mother parish, there was regret at the decision. In 1911, Father Riley was ready to select an architect and talk plans. He chose Matthew Sullivan and gave him an idea of the kind of church he had in mind - brick, with a bell tower, a large capacity for Sunday Masses, and a morning chapel. Matthew Sullivan died fairly young, before he had done too much important work, but the Blessed Sacrament Church in Walpole is a testimony to the worth of his talent. Even in the architect's drawing, Father Riley could detect the beauty of line and proportion, the grace of the tower which distinguishes the structure. But neither priest nor architect dreamed that the interior finish of the church would lift it out of the small number of lovely churches and set it apart among the very few in America which are rare architectural gems. Neither knew then of the genius of John Kirchmayer.
In the spring of 1911 Father Riley had old Saint Francis church moved to a location back of the rectory because it would be needed for services while the new church was building. On July 5, 1911, he observed the traditional rite of turning the first sod, and not he alone but all the boys who were about shared the honor with him.
It was this side of his nature that gave him courage to listen to John Kirchmayer, immigrant wood carver from Oberamergau, when he begged for a chance to finish the interior in hand carved wood like some of the great cathedrals of Europe, to copy the morning chapel after one of the famous chapels of the Middle Ages, to set the great Crucifix over the altar, to carve the reredos, the side altars, the stations and the altar furniture, the cross beams, and last but not least to carve in the solid oak of the front door the twelve apostles, the angels, and the symbols of the Blessed Sacrament. It gave him courage to adopt an artistic finish somewhat somber in an age when people were used to color and bright paint. it led him to get the needed color through glorious stained glass windows.
John Kirchmayer put into the church of the Blessed Sacrament all the wealth of his genius, all the fire of his ambition. No church he did later was quite like this one. He began as an unknown workman; he finished a recognized artist.
This is not the place, even if there were space, to tell of the symbolism built into the morning chapel, the windows, the decorations of the altar. Our church is like one of the great cathedrals of the Middle Ages, where no decorations existed for decoration's sake, but each one was part of the story of the glory of God and the liturgy of his Church.
On Easter Sunday, April 23, 1913, the cornerstone of the church was laid and the new edifice dedicated. Because it was a completely new church Father Riley decided to give it a new name, to dedicate it to God along under the title of the Blessed Sacrament. At the first solemn high Mass Father Riley was the celebrant. Father Thomas I. Gasson, President of Boston College, deacon and preacher, Father Michael Maguire, the assistant, sub-deacon. Mrs. Ella Haney was the organist and there was a choir of thirty mixed voices to sing the Mass.
Although the building of the church was Father Riley's masterpiece, it was not his sole accomplishment. In 1906, he bought a large tract of land in South Walpole which he consecrated as Saint Francis cemetery. Previously the people of Walpole had to go to Canton or Foxboro to bury their dead in consecrated ground. With the land Father Riley acquired the old Joyce house, which he intended to use as a home for the superintendent of the cemetery.
The first plot developed in the cemetery was called by Father Riley after his patron, Saint Daniel. He had Mr. Branley, a local forester, surround it with evergreens. Today beautiful arbor vitae trees keep watch over the dead of the early families of old Walpole.
In his time, also, the rectory was enlarged to care for the additional assistants necessary in the growing parish. He left it commodious, attractive and well appointed. Nor did he overlook the needs of the young people in the parish. they had athletic teams, socials, and even a temperance society. After eighteen as pastor in Walpole, Father Riley was appointed by His Eminence, Cardinal O'Connell, to be pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Jamaica Plain. He preached his final sermon one Sunday in June, 1919.
On the following Sunday Father Timothy Fahey came to Walpole as its third pastor. If he found here a beautiful property, he found also a correspondingly heavy debt, one of $57,000. He felt it was his mission to wipe out this debt, and quickly. He set about this task with his customary energy and earnestness. In a surprisingly few years the parish was free of debt.
During these years, Walpole and East Walpole continued to grow. Into them poured a tide of immigration as it had once before during the years after the Civil War, but this time it came not from Ireland but from Italy. The Italians were attracted to the town by work offered in foundries and machine shops, accepting in their turn hard labor as their lot, as the Puritan founders accepted it, and as the Irish had accepted it in their turn. Walpole had another advantage in the eyes of the land-loving Italians. There was land about, plenty of it, and not too costly to be out of range of a thrifty, hard-working family. At first the Italians had to be satisfied with the poorer, worn-out lands, or raw, unbroken fields, but as time went on and family after family became more prosperous they were able to buy more desirable property. By Father Fahey's pastorate the Italians had become a large and important factor in the town. Other groups were beginning to move in, also. The Poles and Lithuanians were moving in, along the roads from South Norwood.
All this steady flow of new-comers helped to swell the Catholic populations of both Walpole and East Walpole. It was quite evident that the time had come to make provision for separate quarters for the Catholics of East Walpole. At their request Father Fahey interviewed Mr. Charles Sumner Bird, who had on more than one occasion proved himself a staunch friend of the Catholics and a personal friend of Father Riley. He readily granted Father Fahey the use of Bird Hall in East Walpole for the celebration of Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. From 1919 to 1926 the Catholics of East Walpole worshipped here.
In 1926 Father Fahey began the construction of a missionary chapel. Although Mr. Bird had offered as a gift to the parish a piece of land for the new chapel, Father Fahey decided upon another piece of property he thought more suitable. The chapel of Saint Mary's was dedicated by Cardinal O'Connell on May 22, 1927. Father Fahey had expected that the new chapel would remain a mission of Walpole, but in September 1931, East Walpole and South Norwood were set apart as a new parish under the Reverend John Meheran as pastor.
Although the separation of Walpole and East Walpole was inevitable in the nature of things, it was a sad parting. Many of the families of East Walpole had been parishioners of the mother parish from the time of Father Gouesse and had watched the building first of Saint Francis and then of the Blessed Sacrament Church. But time and growth cannot be held back by sentiment and East Walpole was soon on its way to becoming as large as the original parish.
Father Fahey continued to work and beautify the church and the cemetery. He built the brick steps at the front of the church and thereby added the one thing lacking in its original beauty.
The cemetery, too, came in for his attention. Father Fahey bought a strip of land along South Street, opposite the cemetery, to protect the property in future years. He placed a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Grace on the first terrace, landscaped the entrance, planting spruces on either side of the drive.
Personally he was brusque and stern, but beneath his rather harsh exterior he was kindly and charitable. The sick and the poor knew his real depths; they knew how sensitive and shy he was in reality. He made no effort to attract or charm his parish, but people respected him and loved him. They were proud of his eloquence and his superb delivery whenever he was invited to participate in a town function.
In April of 1933 Father Fahey was assigned to the Blessed Heart Parish in Roslindale, and on Easter Sunday he left Walpole for his new duties.
Reverend John O'Riordan succeeded Father Fahey as pastor in the depression year of 1933. He is remembered as a frugal man, befitting the times, who used paper flowers at the altar to preserve the sparse funds. It is ironic that the man who took such pains to save should also the reputation of being a poor bookkeeper.
A quiet, tall, reserved man, Father O'Riordan sought to enrich the lives of his parishioners by initiating the encouraging spiritual and social activities alike. The children's welfare was always uppermost in his mind. First Communion prayer books, children's Lenten services, and rides with the youngsters on the Ferris wheel were an indication of his concern for their happiness.
He started the novena of the Miraculous Medal, which lasted for ten years on Monday nights.
He continued field days and card parties that his predecessor had established; and he encouraged the formation of the Walpole Catholic Women's Club.
To some of the Walpole Catholics of the '30's, Father O'Riordan appeared quiet - yet others remember his priestly understanding, particularly his work with the sick and his tremendous affection for children.
Father O'Riordan remained in Walpole until July, 1940, when he was transferred to St. Mary's Parish in Winchester.
Reverend Bennet J. O'Brien, pastor from 1940 to 1949, wrote the history of the Church for the Diamond Jubilee celebration in 19439. The story you are reading - Walpole, its growth, and the Church's rise to prominence in the town - is in his words through the tenure of Father Fahey.
Father O'Brien was a classmate of Richard Cardinal Cushing at St. John's Seminary. A scholarly man, he translated Volume I of the Breviary (priest's prayer book) from Latin to English. Volumes II and III were translated by the Cardinal.
Father O'Brien gave Blessed Sacrament music and formality - he purchased the organ for the church and had the ushers at Sunday Mass wear tails.
He also dusted off Father O'Riordan's paper flowers, found them not to his liking, and indulged in fresh cut bouquets for the church.
In 1941, Father O'Brien initiated the St. Theresa Society and the altar society within the Catholic Women's Club. He regenerated interest in the Knights of Columbus, Holy Name Society, and the Sodality.
Sunday school was held in the basement of the chapel and a girls' and women's choir was formed under the direction of Alice Hennessey during Father O'Brien's pastorate.
Perhaps most importantly, Father O'Brien saw the parishioners of Blessed Sacrament Parish through the trying years of the Second World War, providing spiritual comfort and guidance in a time of national crisis. Father O'Brien continued as pastor until December, 1949, when he was transferred to Sacred Heart Parish in Weymouth.
Monsignor John H. Manion ushered in a period of growth and prosperity for the parish when he arrived in 1950. A dynamic, forceful man in spite of an asthmatic condition, he knew what had to be done and possessed the forthrightness and organization to accomplish his goals.
Father Manion invited the Sisters of the Most Blessed Trinity to set up a kindergarten in the parish to help teach religious education classes.
He arranged to have the organ refurbished, put the stations of the cross in the chapel, and expressed great interest in the refurbishing of St. Francis cemetery.
He started the Sacred Heart Holy Hour on Mondays in 1950, to which he drew a surprisingly large attendance - mostly, some claimed because the Monsignor was a dramatic and inspiring speaker.
A man ahead of his time, he experimented with English in the Mass. Father Manion, it was said, was never afraid to move forward.
The best testimony of his great understanding of people and their needs was the growth of the parish from 450 to 750 families during the first three years he was there.
Father Manion's stay in Walpole was cut short due to his health and he was transferred to St. Mary's Parish in Winchester.
Reverend John J. Costello is a legend to Blessed Sacrament parishioners. A practical and rather gruff man, he was known for his faithfulness to the sick and for initiating communion breakfasts for the children and outings to Nantasket Beach for the altar boys.
He is best known for his overwhelming desire to build a parish school. Father Costello spent a little over 12 years as pastor (from November, 1952 to February, 1965). In that time, he raised over $400,000 for the school fund.
Failing in health, he took to the pulpit early in 1965 to announce that he had realized his life's goal - groundbreaking ceremonies would be held that coming Spring. He may not live to see the completion of the building, he said, but at least he knew his dream would eventually come true. A month later, he passed away.
He was replaced by Reverend Monsignor Russell H. Davis, who had been choirmaster at St. John's Seminary for 20 years.
Although Msgr. Davis' tenure at Blessed Sacrament was brief (February, 1965 to June, 1967), his accomplishments were many. He renovated and refurbished the main church, the chapel, the rectory, the parking lot and the church grounds. He lighted the tower and electrified the bells. He planted maple trees along Diamond and East Streets. All this had been accomplished by the time Richard Cardinal Cushing visited Blessed Sacrament to rededicate the church on July 26, 1965.
Msgr. Davis also broke ground for the school on May 22, 1965. (The first class entered in the fall of that year.) A month earlier, he had initiated the first parish reunion at the King Philip.
In addition, he started the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which works with families with various material and spiritual needs. He also changed the Ladies Guild to the Blessed Sacrament Guild and combined it with the Sodality.
During Msgr. Davis' tenure, the church had two choirs - a 25-member boys' choir and a 20-member men's choir. The choirs performed at concerts as well as at Mass and participated, as did other members of the parish, at ecumenical services with representatives of Walpole's Protestant churches.
A special Confraternity of Christian Doctrine program was implemented under Msgr. Davis, and he gave a great deal of credit to Father Bernard L. Sullivan, one of his curates.
In July, 1967, Msgr. Davis was transferred to St. Catherine of Genoa Parish in Somerville.
It seems appropriate at this time to say a few words about the people of Blessed Sacrament for no parish can survive, prosper, and grow without the continued support of its parishioners. This support, for the most part, is found in its active societies and may be measured by the vitality of them. These groups provide opportunities to the parishioners to grow spiritually and socially as well as provide financial aid as necessary to the well being of any parish.
The societies of Blessed Sacrament Parish and St. Francis Parish before it have been numerous. Some like the Holy Name, Sodality, and St. Theresa's Society have had continuity for many years and have provided the spiritual needs which helped strengthen the faith of its members. Two of the most often mentioned parishioners in these societies were Bill Hale, who was active over sixty years in the Holy Name and went on to Archiodesan fame, and Maria Tomaino Tarchea, truly a missionary and founder of the St. Theresa Society.
Others have experienced faith through their desire and purpose to help those in need - especially in the area of companionship, such as visits to the ill and confined both at home and in nursing homes, emergency babysitting and transportation, help with family problems, and visits to parish homes by inner-city children. The organizations providing these opportunities for Christian action have been the Ladies Guild, the Legion of Mary (newly organized by Sister Vincent), the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and Christian Service Commission of the Parish Council. Still others - the Knights of Columbus, the Ladies Benevolent Association, the Foresters, and the Catholic Women's Club have been fraternal in nature and have provided its members with the brotherly love aspect of parish life.
Fund raising is a necessary part of parish life, and the activities generated to accomplish that end are pleasantly remembered by those involved.
Different neighborhood groups were designated each week to sponsor whist parties during Father O'Brien's time.
Field days, lawn parties, carnivals, minstrel shows, fairs, Christmas bazaars, and fashion shows each took their place as a financial supplement to the regular parish income.
In 1952 and continuing through 1965, the School Building Fund was established and continued to grow under the auspices of the Ladies Guild, which the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity formed from a small group of kindergarten mothers.
The Trinitarians will long be remembered by the ever-grateful parishioners for their truly missionary work in the parish. These sisters, who lived in the Cenacle in Norwood, worked endlessly in our parish visiting each home as a census taker, distributing clothes to the needy, bringing families back to the sacraments, instructing women in home care, and conducting minstrel shows.
The work with the children of the parish by the sisters, however, will be most remembered because of its far-reaching effect in the spiritual formation of the young. These few nuns conducted religious instruction classes for as many as 900 children a year in grades 3 through 9 (aided by high school girls), special first communion classes, and babysitting on Sunday mornings, and kindergarten classes daily for thirteen years.
When the Blessed Sacrament School complex was finally realized, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, Pa., joined our parish to staff the new school. However, in 1972, the Trinitarians came to our aid once again when Sister Beatrice became coordinator of the parish Confraternity of Christian Doctrine program.
The CCD program in the parish was finalized at the time of Vatican II by Father Bernard Sullivan, who worked endlessly recruiting lay teachers and administrators to teach the children of the parish who were attending public schools. This program requires a constant replenishment of workers and is the largest lay apostolate in the parish today. The continuance and success of this program currently rests with Father Richard Tierney.
No parish could efficiently function without the faithfulness of the Altar and Usher Societies. The Altar Society, as mentioned earlier, was founded within the Catholic Women's Club. The work of these dedicated women, not often publicized, is to maintain the altar linen and vestments each week, clean the sanctuary, as well as care for the flowers and decoration of the altar.
The Usher's Society, of course, is observed at work each Saturday, Sunday, and Holy Day. What makes these two groups unique is that they require a continual effort and long term commitment. Ann Travers and Irene Connolly have served the Altar Society since its inception. Leo Travers is our head usher, and with his wife Ann, they celebrated in 1974 fifty golden years of a marriage that was entered into in the Blessed Sacrament Parish on June 2, 1924. Such devotion to their parish on the part of so many similar good and faithful servants is the more real and vibrant story of our parish that words cannot convey.
The youth of the parish have represented themselves and their parish well over the years in various activities under the auspices of the C.Y.O. Baseball, hockey, basketball, and drill teams have carried the name of Blessed Sacrament. Youth dances, retreats, Search weekends all have been organized by the young people in the traditional Catholic philosophy, that both the social and spiritual must be combined to form a solid Christian person. The present Spiritual Director of the C.Y.O., Rev. Walter O'Hearn, has worked with the young people since he joined the parish in 1967.
The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia joined our parish in the fall of 1966 with the opening of the new parish school complex which includes a convent, parish auditorium, 16 classrooms, a cafeteria and kitchen facilities.
These nuns were not new to Boston as they formerly staffed the Holy Trinity High School and St. Francis Orphanage in the Roxbury area for more than 50 years.
The school opened with 118 students in two first and two second grades. Sister Maria Gross was the first superior as well as one of the second grade teachers. Two grades were added each year until the seventh year when the enrollment would only support one seventh and eighth grade class. The first graduating class held its commencement exercises in June, 1963. The students, the nuns, and the lay teachers comprise a new influence on the life and customs of our parish.
It is interesting to note that Sister Frances Georgia, a member of the Order of St. Francis, although never stationed in Walpole, was instrumental in establishing the inner-city children's visiting program in the Town of Walpole. This includes families of all faiths and continues under the direction of the Christian Service Commission of the Parish Council.
A Home and School Association was founded February 14, 1970, by the parents of the parish school to promote the welfare of the school in the parish, act as a liaison with the Walpole community, and conduct various functions to help reduce the extensive debt undertaken by the parish to promote Christian education.
In 1969 in answer to the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity from Vatican II and a mandate from the Archiodesan Office, a Parish Council was formed.
Bill Foley, its first vice-chairman, worked long and tirelessly guiding the formation of the six commissions: namely, the Administrative, Christian Service, Religious Education, Liturgical, Youth, and Parish Activities.
Bill Foley served as vice-chairman for two years and was ably assisted in his work by our Pastor, Father Gallivan, in the role of chairman of the Council,as well as each associate pastor and a representative of the teaching faculty, who also have seats on the Council.
The Charter of the Council dictates that the Council not replace the active societies of the parish, but rather that it foster the growth of them.
Ted Stevenson replaced Bill Foley as vice-chairman in the summer of 1971, and the Council continued its work under his supervision for another two years when its present vice-chairman, John Coleman, started his tenure. Although the history of the Council is less than six years, the success of the work of its six commissions is evidence of a bright and distinctive future for Blessed Sacrament parish life.
In July of 1967 Reverend George P. Gallivan was appointed pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish. Father Gallivan was not new to the area for he was associate pastor in St. Catherine of Sienna Parish in Norwood prior to his coming to Walpole.
Father Gallivan is hard at work today (1967) and it is under his direction, guidance, and devotion that the parish, Parish Council, and the Centennial Committee function. Parish life today belongs more to the field of current events than of history.
It remains for the historian of the future to look back upon our tenures to evaluate our contribution to the life and spiritual progress of the parish.
The next attempt to capture the history of the church was undertaken in 1993 when the church celebrated its 80th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament and later at the 125th Anniversary of the Parish.
During the 1980’s, under the guidance of Fr. James Curtin and subsequently Fr. Maurice O’Connor, the original altar that was moved out of the reredos in the 1960’s was relocated to its original position and made a permanent part of the reredos. The predella was reconstructed and extended to bring the new Altar closer to the congregation and to provide a platform on which to place the presider’s chair.
The Communion rail was removed and a piece of it was used as a pedestal for the Sacred heart Statue which was relocated from the side altar to a niche above the Sacristy door. The side altar that originally contained the Sacred Heart Statue was reconstructed and used to hold a Tabernacle for the reservation of the Eucharist. A new Eucharistic symbol with grapes, wheat and CHIRO (symbol of Christ) was designed and hung over the Tabernacle.
The bishop’s chair, originally situated on the left side of the Sanctuary with a canopy, was redesigned and used as the presider’s chair at Eucharistic celebrations. Renovation also included the installation of a new pulpit.
The Blessed Mother’s statue remained in the same place but on a reconstructed pedestal. The Baptistry was removed from the platform in the Sacristy and a newly-constructed font was placed in front of the statue of the Blessed Mother.
Outside a ramp for handicapped access was constructed at the East Street entrance and the church’s front stairs were rebuilt.
The year 1992 marked the beginning of renovations in the Morning Chapel. Through the generosity of a parishioner, the chapel was repainted. The unused confessionals were removed, new carpeting and new kneeler covers were installed and new curtains were hung behind the reredos.
The small organ that was a gift of a parishioner was removed from the choir loft. To enhance congregational singing, it was placed in the front niche.
The statue of St. Therese was relocated from the back wall to the front side niche transforming this area into a place of prayer honoring St. Therese of the Child Jesus. The statue of the Blessed Mother and Child as well as that of St. Joseph was relocated from either side of the altar to the rear niche. This became the Holy Family Shrine.
New Stations of the Cross, that were hand carved in Italy by Ferdinand Stuflesser, were hung on the Chapel walls. These stations are different from the traditional stations in that they are scripturally correct. This different version of The Way of the Cross is the same one prayed by Pope John Paul II in the Colosseum on Good Friday.
During his tenure as pastor, Reverend Timothy J. Kelleher (Fr. Tim) made great strides in restoring, renovating and improving all the Blessed Sacrament properties. These additions and upgrades were made possible through the generosity and the support of the people of the Blessed Sacrament Parish Community. Fr. Tim’s vision would not have become a reality without the knowledge and dedication of the parish’s facility manager Mike Lamperti.
In an effort to preserve the natural beauty of the church, the main church and chapel pews, the tower, the Diamond, East Street entrances, the sacristy, the great apostolic entrance doors and the façade (front) of the church were restored.
A handicapped-accessible bathroom was installed in the Upper Church, the Community Room was renovated and the refurbished; the Reconciliation Room was re-built, and a new Schumelrich all-digital Carillon was installed to replace the old one that was in disrepair.
In the fall of 1998, the painting of the interior of the Church was accomplished and during Christmas week, a new speaker system was installed.
In 1999 the ceramic tile floor was added to the church, the Sacred Heart Statue was relocated to the front foyer of the church and the Baptismal Font was adjusted to accommodate Baptism by immersion.
During this period of time the tabernacle was placed in a permanent place in the Sanctuary of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The removal of the tabernacle was done to follow more closely the teachings of the Church. The Ambry containing the Holy Oils was placed in the location from which the Tabernacle was removed.
During this same period work was done to maintain and restore the 33 magnificent windows of the Church. New plaques were placed underneath each window to identify the saints, the donor of the window and the one in whose name the window was restored.
The Church of the Blessed Sacrament is really a very precious gift to our parish community. The preservation of its interior and exterior has been an ongoing process to create a prayerful environment. This work has been made possible through the generous efforts of many people.
Today the parish is a thriving, active parish. The mission statement of the parish says it all: Blessed Sacrament is a Catholic Community rooted in the Eucharist Where All are Welcome Building the City of God. In 2006 Fr. Tim Kelleher and Fr. Mike Boutin assumed the leadership of the parish as a team. They are co-pastors of the parish. The co-pastors along with the members of the pastoral staff, staff, the parish pastoral council, the finance council and a vast number of volunteers strive to create an atmosphere where all are welcome as together we try to build a community reflective of God’s unconditional love for his people. The main focus of the parish is liturgy. In liturgy we gather to praise and thank God for his many blessings, to be fed in Word, Sacrament and Community and to leave with the mission to live what we have celebrated. Enhancing our liturgical celebrations are not only the ministries of Lector, Eucharistic Minister, Altar Server, Usher but the fine music program with its multiple choirs; adult choir, youth choir, youth ensemble, funeral choir and bell choirs. The parish has developed many other ministries which are truly an extension of the Eucharist. These ministries include outreach to the homebound, bereaved, divorced and separated, a card ministry, and a knitting ministry to mention a few. In addition to the out reach the parish hosts a vast Faith Formation Program for families. Parents are encouraged to be active in the religious education of their children in participating in Sunday Liturgy as well as living their faith for the young people to see. There is an active youth ministry program in which the young person elects, if he/she is ready, to be confirmed. Upon confirmation the youth are encouraged to continue in the program in becoming peer ministers and sharing their faith and experience with other youth.
Blessed Sacrament Parish is what it is today due to a rooted ness in the Eucharist and the generous offering of time talent and treasure of so many people.