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Thank You Walpole, Massachusettes

Most Recent Reporting

A Creole ’thank you’, #2-3111
By Amanda J. Mantone/ Daily News Staff
Friday, July 14, 2006 - Updated: 03:27 AM EST

The Blessed sacrement Church and School in Walpole has been helping St. Paul’s Parish in Pass Christian, Miss., (pictured here) rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. (Contributed photo)
WALPOLE -- Members of Blessed Sacrament parish have reached across state borders to help a sister parish in need after Hurricane Katrina.
And tomorrow, they will commemorate that partnership with a gourmet Creole cooking event that’s less about fund raising and all about fellowship with a church community still struggling to rebuild in Mississippi.
"This is actually a thank you by the people within the community that we’re supporting," said Blessed Sacrament Deacon Rey Spadoni, who in November was among the first parishioners to visit the devastation at St. Paul’s Church and School in Pass Christian, Mississippi -- one of the cities hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina.
"They’re actually bringing up the cooks and the food."
He said Blessed Sacrament will show video and pictures from their most recent relief mission to Pass Christian in June at tomorrow’s gumbo feast, cooked up by Diane and Jim Bradley, the chief chefs at Pass Christian’s annual Seafood Festival.
And Father Dennis Carver, of St. Paul’s parish, will come in person to break bread with the clergy and laity at Blessed Sacrament -- who so far have donated more than $50,000 to their adopted southern church community.
"Their school and rectory were damaged beyond repair. On the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, there was another type of damage that wasn’t receiving as much press, but which had to do with the tidal surge that came in and quickly went back out," said Spadoni.
"In their gym, most of the walls were down, and we heard about a couple who clung to the basketball hoops when the water got too high," he said. "You hear enough stories like that, and your jaw drops."
He said the church is still helping St. Paul’s get back on its feet nearly a year after the deadly hurricane, though the focus has shifted somewhat from rebuilding the actual sanctuary to helping remake a neighborhood.
"They have a long way to go," Spadoni said. "Their sense is that, by rebuilding the parish community, it will go a long way in the building of the entire community. It’s a reason for people who are saying ’why do I even live here?’ to stay. Especially people who have been through this a few times."
Tomorrow’s "Pass Christian style" dinner, with jambalaya, gumbo, greens and French bread, also features the New Orleans-style jazz tunes of Massachusetts’s Blue Horizon Jazz Band.
The event is open to anyone who wants to hear more about progress of Katrina rebuilding efforts and the volunteer work still going on in the ravaged region.
For more information on the church partnership and relief efforts, visit www.BlessedSacrament.org/PassChristian.
Amanda J. Mantone can be reached at 781-433-8354 or amantone@cnc.com.


Jambalaya at Blessed Sacrament
July 14, 2006
By Kristin Burnham
Staff writer
Jim Bradley knows his gumbo, and last Saturday he spilled the beans about his secret.  "You’ve got to cook the acid out of the tomatoes and shrimp without burning it," he said. "That’s when it all comes together."
Bradley and his wife Diane, from Pass Christian, Miss., traveled with a team of six to host Jambalaya Day at Blessed Sacrament Church on Saturday.
The event was held to thank the Blessed Sacrament community for the money they raised to help rebuild the St. Paul’s parish destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  In June, 11 Blessed Sacrament parishioners went to Mississippi to assist with the ongoing recovery efforts.
"We really cannot describe how much we appreciate the help," Diane Bradley said.  "Our community lost everything.  The kindness shown to us has carried us through some tough times."
The Bradleys, known throughout the South for their jambalaya and seafood gumbo, began preparing the feast -- 60 gallons of gumbo and jambalaya -- at 9 a.m.
"Putting something like this together takes everybody," said Jim Bradley.  "We couldn’t have done it without everyone working together as a group."
The Bradley’s said cooking for the 300 guests was no problem; they’re use to crowds much larger.
Every year the Bradley’s prepare their famous foods for St. Paul’s annual Seafood Festival, attracting thousands.
While the gumbo, bread pudding, and jambalaya were the main dishes at Jambalaya Day, salad, hot dogs, and hamburgers were also served for those with less adventurous taste buds.
"It’s wonderful for them to do this," said Rosalie Pierce of Walpole.  "What happened down there is terrible.  We’re happy to do anything to help them."
The Bay State’s Blue Horizon Jazz Band provided New Orleans-style jazz music throughout the evening.
Connie Geiger, a member of the Blessed Sacrament parish, attended Jambalaya Day to support her brother from Louisiana whose community was affected by Hurricane Katrina.
"For me, being here is a way to connect with my brother," she said.  "I emailed him to tell him about the event and he said I have to try the food because apparently there’s nothing quite like it."
Deacon Rey Spadoni of Blessed Sacrament presented a slide-show of pictures from the trips to Mississippi.  Four of the eleven parishioners that attended the trip in June spoke about their experiences during that week.
Father Dennis Carver of St. Paul’s Church in Pass Christian, Miss. said that the money raised by Blessed Sacrament and others from around the country has amounted to $800,000.  That money, he says, will be put toward rebuilding the church, administration building, and school.
"This was our way to say ‘thanks’ to the Blessed Sacrament and Walpole community," said Father Carver.  "We’re all very thankful for the generosity they have showed us."


Joy of jambalaya
By Amanda J. Mantone/ Daily News Staff
Monday, July 17, 2006 - Updated: 02:47 AM EST

WALPOLE -- They are people large in spirit but lacking in possessions, who have few cars, no computers, and who are paying mortgages on houses that no longer exist.
They’re the victims of Hurricane Katrina’s final flooding fury before she faded inland last August, leaving behind a swath of battered coastline where the tiny town of Pass Christian, Miss., rests. Their church -- St. Paul’s -- and its parochial school were leveled, as were nearly 90 percent of the surrounding homes and businesses.
And Saturday, several parishioners and some of their relatives, along with their church pastor, showed up at Walpole’s Blessed Sacrament Church to thank its members for helping them overcome the effects of last year’s devastating Gulf Coast hurricane.
The Walpole parishioners have given St. Paul’s money, hard work, and plain old friendship during a time the Pass Christian people feared they had been forgotten.
So they came to cook a Creole feast for their new Walpole friends.
On Saturday night, more than 300 Blessed Sacrament parishioners packed the church gymnasium for gumbo, jambalaya and bread pudding. Boston’s Blue Horizon Jazz Band serenaded the diners with Dixieland music from the stage.
The folks from Mississippi served up tubs full of jambalaya, the spicy, rice-and-shrimp based Creole staple, which the locals virtually inhaled.
The Pass Christian residents said they were glad to serve their Northern brothers and sisters.
"Blessed Sacrament came down to our little parish, and brought a lot of love and prayers and financial support. And it’s the truth, to come and do what they did, it touched us so much. So we decided to host a Cajun night," said Dian Bradley, an award-winning Southern seafood chef and seventh-generation St. Paul’s member who brought her husband -- and their jambalaya and gumbo recipes -- to Blessed Sacrament Church as a "thank you" fellowship dinner Saturday night.
"I wish there was another word besides ’thank you.’ The moral support they have given us, I mean it has really touched everybody. Most of us in Pass Christian know each other, and are really relatives, so that’s such a shock when strangers came and helped us so much."
The Blessed Sacrament folks shared memories and pictures from a recent service trip several church members made to St. Paul’s parish in June.
"We can’t wait to keep them in our prayers," said Blessed Sacrament parishioner Dan Kelly, who helped launch the partnership with Pass Christian last fall, and who helped set up Saturday’s dinner. "They considered this meal to be a gift, and we’re humbly accepting."
The Rev. Dennis Carver, pastor of the flattened St. Paul’s Church and school campus, spoke at the 4 p.m. Mass Saturday before dishing out the jambalaya at supper. He talked of a town whose population has dropped from 6,000 pre-Katrina to 1,000 now, where roads became rivers, and where he’s struggling to raise $16 million to erect a church and 500-student school -- further inland this time.
He compared his community’s struggles to the fractured Catholic Church in Boston, where parishes are closing, merging and reaching back out to a stunned laity, trying to recover from a priest molestation and coverup scandal.
"You know what it is to be devastated, us by a storm, and you by a scandal," he said in his homily. "We’ve both been scarred by deep wounds that will never go away. But that’s what I like about it -- it’s like Christ. Your local church and ours, we both have to do a lot of rebuilding."
He doesn’t shy away from the parallel, instead drawing on it as a source of common strength and seeing in it the hand of God.
"There’s a mystery surrounding it. I think there’s a mutuality of understanding in it," he said. "Nothing can destroy our church. Nothing. No storms, no scandals. We’re gonna be better."
Amanda J. Mantone can be reached at 781-433-8354 or amantone@cnc.com.


 Walpole Church Sends Adults and Teens to Help Adopted Community of Pass Christian, Mississippi; Church to Celebrate Bond Between Parishioners With Creole Food Festival on July 15

On Wednesday, June 21, 2006, parishioners of Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church of Walpole, Massachusetts, sent a delegation of five adults and six teens to help with the continuing clean up efforts brought on by Hurricane Katrina in their adopted community of Pass Christian.  Pass Christian, a small town on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, was ground zero for the eye of the hurricane.  Under the leadership of its pastor, Fr. Tim Kelleher, Blessed Sacrament agreed last fall to adopt the Catholic Community of St. Paul's Church to assist the people of Pass Christian rebuild their church, rectory and school which were destroyed by the hurricane.

To date, the parishioners of Blessed Sacrament, their friends and families, have contributed in excess of $50,000 to aid St. Paul's efforts to resurrect their church.  According to Terry Witherell, Coordinator of Youth Ministry at Blessed Sacrament, the service trip, which will last a week, “was a natural outgrowth of our pledge last year to help St. Paul's with prayer, funds, and fellowship.  In addition to raising money, it was important that members of our own community volunteer their time to participate directly in the rebuilding process.”  The delegation is being led by Bill Willoth, a member of the parish.   Willoth reports that nine months after the hurricane, Pass Christian is still removing debris and has welcomed our help.  “Although our contribution will be small, it will serve as a reminder to the people of Pass Christian that they have not been forgotten, and the experience will immeasurably add to our parish's understanding of their suffering and needs.”

On Saturday, July 15, 2006, Blessed Sacrament will welcome Father Dennis Carver, Pastor of St. Paul's Church for a Fellowship Feast - Pass Christian style.  Accompanying Father Carver will be Diane and Jim Bradley, chief cooks for Pass Christian's annual Seafood Festival, who will treat the parishioners of Blessed Sacrament with a menu of jambalaya, gumbo, greens and French bread.  New Orleans style jazz will be provided by Massachusetts's Blue Horizon Jazz Band.  At the Feast, Father Carver will report on progress of his community's rebuilding efforts and the Blessed Sacrament delegation will report on their trip.  According to Father Kelleher, “this is a wonderful opportunity to join hands, break bread, and thank God for the blessings he has bestowed on both of our faith communities.”

For more information and photographs, please view www.BlessedSacrament.org/PassChristian.  CONTACT: Dan Kelly/617 345-7026/508 668-0413 dkelly@mccarter.com
Walpole Church Delegation Visits Hurricane-Ravaged Town of Pass Christian
     A group of parishioners of the Roman Catholic church of Blessed Sacrament in Walpole, Massachusetts, led by their pastor, Father Tim Kelleher, traveled to Pass Christian, Mississippi on Sunday, October 23 to visit their "adopted" parish of St. Paul's and view the devastation brought on by Hurricane Katrina. The Blessed Sacrament delegation met with St. Paul's pastor, toured the town, and attended a Mass, held for the first time since the hurricane in the heavily damaged structure which up until Katrina served as Church for 900 families.
     The trip originated with the idea of a men's prayer group at Blessed Sacrament to reach out to fellow parishioners in a church in one of the communities hit by Katrina. The group believed that the parishioners of Blessed Sacrament parish would graciously and generously welcome the opportunity to help a sister parish through prayer and financial assistance. Moreover, the group saw this as an opportunity for renewing the spirits of Blessed Sacrament's congregation whose morale has suffered as a result of the church abuse crisis in the Archdiocese of Boston. The idea was embraced by Father Kelleher and inquiries were made to the dioceses of New Orleans and Biloxi.  The Biloxi diocese directed the group to St. Paul's in Pass Christian, a small town on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi which served as ground zero for the eye of the hurricane.
     The group traveled to Pass Christian to witness first hand the suffering of the people of St. Paul's and to begin assessing their needs. The group observed a town in utter ruin, surrounded by barbed wire and National Guard outposts. The devastation was extensive and numbing to the senses. Words and pictures fail to adequately describe the destruction.  The St. Paul's church, rectory, and elementary school sat within 1000 yards of the ocean. The rectory and school are now completely destroyed, while the structure of the church remains but without portions of its walls, its windows, and all of its furnishings. At the Mass, Father Kelleher presented the people of St. Paul's a San Damiano Cross, blessed in Rome and Assisi, which memorializes God's call to St. Francis to rebuild His Church. In presenting the Cross, Father Kelleher spoke of the physical disaster suffered by St. Paul's and the spiritual disaster suffered by Blessed Sacrament, and pledged to work together to renew both parishes through prayer, financial assistance and fellowship.
     Blessed Sacrament has planned a Thanksgiving Feast of Celebration on Christ the King Sunday, November 20, 2005 at 12:00 p.m. in its school gymnasium following the 11:00 a.m. Mass.  St. Paul's pastor, Father Dennis Carver and two of his parishioners who lost everything in the storm will be guests of honor. All are invited and asked to bring a pot-luck dish for sharing with their neighbors and friends. Father Carver will speak on how his community was affected by Katrina and on the specific needs of his parish. The delegation who traveled to Pass Christian will present through photographs, video and their own testimony, what they saw.
     For more information, a reflection by Father Kelleher of the visit, and photographs, please view www.blessedsacrament.org.  CONTACT: Dan Kelly/617 345-7026/508 668-0413 dkelly@ghlaw.com

Blessed Sacrament Church
     Ted Giesel, better known as Dr. Seuss, wrote a wonderful story many years ago, with which we are all familiar, about a monster who, determined to steal the Christmas spirit from a small town in a valley, stripped the town bare of all of its Christmas decorations, presents, toys, Christmas trees, and all the other trappings of Christmas. However, much to the Grinch's surprise, on Christmas morning, the citizens of Who-ville turned out in the barren town square, in their Christmas finest, and sang, smiled and celebrated the birth of Jesus.
     Well, last Sunday, Father Tim and a group of us traveled to a small town on the sea in Mississippi devastated by another monster called Katrina. We witnessed first hand the utter destruction of hundreds of homes and businesses, and met and talked with people who lost everything. And like the citizens of Who-ville, the Catholic community of St. Paul's church, in their Sunday best, gathered in their shell of a church, with no power, no running water, no pews, and no musical accompaniment, and sang and smiled and celebrated the spirit of their Community. Led by their pastor Father Carver, they thanked God for the love He has bestowed on them, and their love for one another. It was an amazing and humbling experience.
     During the Mass, the people of St. Paul's praised the people of Blessed Sacrament as their new friends and neighbors, and prayed for us. Father Tim, who concelebrated the Mass with Father Carver, presented the congregation with the St. Damiano cross, which Father Mike brought back from Italy, and spoke eloquently of God's message to St. Francis to rebuild His Church. Father Tim spoke of St. Paul's need to recover from the physical damage of Katrina and Blessed Sacrament's need to recover from the spiritual damage of the sexual abuse crisis in the Archdiocese of Boston. Father Tim and Father Carver, made a mutual pledge of renewal for both of the parishes.
     Sunday November 20, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, is Christ the King Sunday.  All of the Masses that weekend will include prayers for renewal of the parishes of Blessed Sacrament and St. Paul’s. As you have been hearing over the last two Sundays, following the 11:00 a.m. Mass, the parish will have a feast of Thanksgiving in the school gymnasium.  It is our hope that every parishioner who is able can attend. At the feast, we will show slides and movies of our trip to Pass Christian. Our special guests will be Father Carver and two of his parishioners, the Curries, who lost everything in the storm. They will tell the story of Katrina and explain their needs. We will celebrate through this Thanksgiving meal the many blessings God has bestowed on both parishes.
     It is our wish that the feast be truly a community event. In that vein, we are asking all those parishioners who are able to bring a dish to the feast for their neighbors and friends. As you leave the Church today, we will have a sign-up sheet where we will ask you to tell us if you can make the feast, and indicate what dish you can bring. You can bring an entree, a salad, a desert, or a side dish. Perhaps, your family has a special dish that they make at Thanksgiving -- bring it to share with your neighbors. We will supply the drinks, the utensils and the dishes.
     Thank you to all of you who have already contacted us to volunteer.  We have been compiling your names and will be contacting you shortly.   We could use some more.  Volunteers are needed to help with the planning and running of the feast. We need people to get the word out, we need people to help get the gym ready, we need people to direct traffic, and we need people to greet and make sure everyone is comfortable. There will be a separate sign up sheet for volunteers.
     We are very excited about this event. We encourage you to attend, and we ask that you call your friends and neighbors -- people who couldn't make Mass today or haven't gone to Mass in a while, people who may be disillusioned with the Church or frustrated over the negative events we've weathered over the last two years. This is a chance for them to come back and celebrate the wonderful things our Church has to offer. We have handouts in the back of the Church which contain the special message that was on the back of the St. Damiano cross presented by Father Tim to the the people of St. Paul's. On the handout are numbers and email addresses which you can call or email, indicating additional people who want to attend the celebration and what they can bring.  In addition, we urge you to view the Blessed Sacrament web site, www.blessedsacrament.org, which currently has posted on it photographs of the visit, a reflection by Father Tim, and additional information concerning the feast.
     As they say in Pass Christian, We hope to see y’all there.

Blessed Sacrament to join Katrina relief
By Geoff Mosher / Daily News Staff
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
WALPOLE --Fred Horgan knew members of his men's prayer group were onto something when the Hurricane Katrina fund-raising effort they developed was announced at the end of a recent Mass at Blessed Sacrament Church off Rte. 27.
   All Horgan, the group's secretary, needed to do was listen to the response.
   "Spontaneous applause does not erupt when you ask for money," Horgan said. "I'd say that's a pretty good sign people were looking for something they could connect to."
   Spurred by the desire to help a parish community in need, Blessed Sacrament Church has decided to adopt St. Paul Parish in Pass Christian, Miss., a Gulf Coast community of 6,000 that lost its Catholic church, rectory and elementary school, not to mention more than two-thirds of its homes.
   On Oct. 22, a Blessed Sacrament delegation will travel to Pass Christian to meet its pastor, the Rev. Dennis Carver, and his parishioners, pray together, tour the town and assess the church's needs. The delegation will be led by the Rev. Tim Kelleher and include about 15 members of the prayer group and their families.
   Travel expenses will be paid for out of pocket, said group member Terry Nolan, who plans to take his 14-year-old daughter, Amanda, a freshman at Ursuline Academy in Dedham. The Catholic school, Nolan said, is hosting a girl from New Orleans who was displaced by the hurricane.
   The idea to adopt a Gulf Coast parish came from prayer group member Dan Kelly, who, through the Internet, got in touch with the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, which then assigned Blessed Sacrament to St. Paul.
   Kelly said he thought Blessed Sacrament could contribute more if it focused on a specific community.
   "I saw this as an opportunity for spiritual renewal of our own parish," said Kelly, who pointed out the priest abuse scandal and the subsequent restructuring of the Boston archdiocese have taken a toll on parishioners.
   "There's a real morale issue," Kelly said.
   Deacon Rey Spadoni said the prayer group, of which he is a member, had been talking for a while about helping fellow Catholics in need. The group, Spadoni said, was formed in part to discuss the church crisis.
"I think we had kind of a readiness to act," he said. "It seemed like this was our time."
   Kelleher immediately embraced the idea.
   "When people join together for a singular cause, there's a rebuilding, a revitalizing that can take place," Kelleher said.  "And I think what the men were thinking about was the fact that if the parish focused on this and tried to do our best to help these people out, we would be coming together."
   The St. Paul Parish and school serve 900 families and 160 students in preschool through grade 6. According to Carver, the church buildings that still stand are mostly unusable, and the insurance agency representing the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi has not stepped in to cover reconstruction costs.
   Most Gulf Coast hotels that were not destroyed by Katrina are now full of displaced residents and relief workers, so the Blessed Sacrament group asked Hilton Hotels for help, Spadoni said.  The president and CEO of the company, he said, secured them a block of rooms at a Hilton hotel near Pass Christian.
  The weekend before Thanksgiving, the group plans to pay for Carver and members of his parish to visit Walpole to celebrate Mass and meet Blessed Sacrament parishioners at a potluck supper.  Fund-raising will begin that weekend and last through Christmas.
   "It is much more personal when you have identified people who you want to help," Nolan said.  "We kind of view this thing as a long-term commitment."

Note:  To View the Blessed Sacrement WebSite on Pass Christian, Click below:


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