The evening of March 23, PSJS’s own Fr. Vincent Daily led the seminary community in prayer at a special Holy Hour to commemorate Dorothy Day, who after her death in 1980 at the age of 83 was described by one historian as “the most important, interesting, and influential figure in the history of American Catholicism.” Fr. Daily gave a stimulating presentation on the Gospel life and message of this selfless and courageous Servant of God from New York City, which set the proper tone for the Lenten day of service the following day. Seminarians, faculty, and staff divided up and went to serve in a spirit of Christian love at four different ministry sites.
One group went to the Friends of the Unborn Maternity Home in Quincy, which offers to expectant and new mothers in need a loving home and a supportive community. A number of seminarians and priests helped with general maintenance and cleaning around the house and property. They were also treated to a delicious homemade lunch prepared by some of the women. The highlight of the day was having the chance to talk with and get to know the young mothers and to exchange experiences about the gifts and the challenges of living in community. Another group went to Cradles to Crayons in Newton, whose mission is to provide children from homeless and low-income families with what they need to feel safe, warm, and valued in the home, at school, and on the playground. Seminarians, faculty, and staff joined other volunteers to sort through donations and get them ready for distribution at The Giving Factory. A third group went into South Boston to help at the Food Pantry sponsored by St. Monica’s Parish, whose pastor, Fr. Peter DeFazio, is a PSJS alum. Seminarians and members of the faculty and staff sorted through boxes of food to be distributed and then joined other volunteers to greet and assist clients and to be a kind and welcoming presence for them. The sturdier seminarians and priests put their brawn at the service of the good and holy monks at St. Benedict’s Abbey in Still River, transforming two dilapidated rooms into two as-good-as-new guestrooms in a matter of hours.
Nearly 50 members of the PSJS community gave of their time and of themselves, and they all agreed that it was a day well spent encountering Jesus Christ in their brothers and sisters. Many of them said that they are eager to return to the site where they helped in order to build on the relationships that were begun and to continue to serve. When we are faced with the needs of others and try to respond as generously as we can, our own needs and problems have a way of becoming less urgent. Serving others outside the seminary walls was also a fitting way to prepare for the beautiful Solemnity of the Annunciation the next day, since this was when the Eternal Word became flesh in the most pure womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary in order to come to us to serve, not to be served.
If you are interested in learning more about the places mentioned above, visit their websites at https://friendsoftheunborn.org, https://www.cradlestocrayons.org/boston/, https://www.sbscatholic.org/st-monicas-food-pantry, and https://abbey.org. For more information about Dorothy Day and her cause for sainthood, visit http://dorothydayguild.org.
By Fr. Scott Surrency, OFM Cap.