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Boston Area Advent Mass

12/20/2021 

On Wednesday December 8th, Boston Area members and friends gathered together at Emmanuel College in Boston to celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary as part of our Annual Advent Mass and Dinner. Sr. Janet Eisner, President, and Sr. Anne Donovan, Treasurer, along with Jack MacKinnon, long time Trustee, provided a warm welcome, and gracious hospitality to all attendees. Msgr Kevin O’Leary, ChD, was the presider, with Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Trexler, and Fr. Terrence Devino concelebrants in the College Chapel. Located at the center of the Eisner Administration Building, the College Chapel was designed by famed architects Maginnis & Walsh.

In the first reading of the Liturgy of the Word, Adam and Eve admit they ate the forbidden fruit. In the second reading, proclaimed by 2022 Candidate, Melissa Madden in above photo, Saint Paul tells the Ephesians that they have been chosen, blessed, and called to be holy. In the Gospel, the angel Gabriel comes to Mary and says Hail, full of grace! Mary replies that she is the handmaid of the Lord. In his homily, Msgr. O’Leary reminded us that, today, we celebrate that unique and singular grace given to Mary: She was preserved from all effects of original sin from the first moment of her conception. We believe that this gift was given in preparation for and through the merits of her only Son, whose return in glory we await with prayerful vigilance and firm hope. Msgr. O’Leary said that like Mary, we too, have been chosen to bring Christ to others!

After the Profession of Faith, President Peter Kelly and Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Trexler stepped forward, during a brief ceremony of investiture, to formally install Msgr. O’Leary as a new Deputy Chaplain for the Boston Area. President Kelly and Deacon Trexler presented him with a new Order of Malta stole and then shared congratulations. The stole is worn during the Mass as well as celebrating the sacraments. The priest’s stole is worn around the neck and shoulders and flows down the front.

Before the end of Mass, two awards were presented. Area Co-Chair Craig Gibson acknowledged Chancellor Ed Delaney as the recipient the Bishop Fitzpatrick Award. “The Bishop Fitzpatrick Award is an award given to a member who exemplifies and embodies the care and calling of our charism in his or her life, and who also demonstrates a range of leadership initiatives in support of the Order of Malta,” Craig said. President Kelly was called upon to make the formal presentation. President Kelly shared the following: Ed hails from our Boston Area and has been active in the Order since 2012. He is presently finishing up his second term on the Board of Councillors. Ed is not one to sit around.

Some of his accomplishments include: chairing the last Strategic Planning Committee. Currently, almost all of their plans have been carried out and new projects accomplished; he currently serves as the Communication Committee Chair and during his tenure, he created the new formation curriculum, which has been a tremendous success, and other Associations worldwide are following suit. The Grand Magistry has praised this system and is attempting to have a unified Year of Formation throughout the Order; Ed has also formulated and now implemented a Formation Program for New Chaplains as well; for a number of years, Ed has also Chaired the Admissions Committee, which led to the new online application process; he also Chaired the Lourdes Committee in 2019 and had a successful pilgrimage; also, he presently serves on the Malteser International Americas Board of Directors. Thanks again Ed, for all that you do!

Moments later, Co-Chair Nancy Gibson moved forward to present the new St. Francis Award to Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Trexler. Nancy started out by providing highlights on Deacon Trexler’s background: as a medical physician, Jeff spent 30 years in Emergency Room and Family Medicine; he was ordained as a deacon in 2000; he started as Executive Director at the American Association in November 2006; in Dec 2017, Jeff was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and selflessly continued to work throughout treatment and the recovery process; very happily married to his wife, Connie, with two sons, and two grandchildren.

Nancy then provided highlights relating to his tenure as Executive Director: he played a key role as the principal contact for the Association’s attorney during the lawsuit years; he was also the key contact with the insurance companies during that same period; he played a key role in the establishment of the Sub-priory of Our Lady of Lourdes in 2006; he played a key role in setting up and starting the Lourdes Pilgrimage Foundation; he played a key role in getting the American Association involved in the Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Good Help; each year he has led the advance team to the Lourdes and the Wisconsin Pilgrimages; he has coordinated several visits with Grand Masters to the American Association; he has successfully served five presidents (Dan Kelly, Joe Miller, Hap Redgate, Jack Pohrer, and current president Dr. Peter Kelly); he has carefully guided the American Association through three strategic plans, no easy task; he fully supported the start and growth of the very successful prison ministry program.

Further Nancy said: tonight, we honor Jeff, not only for his outstanding leadership, but his unwavering and steady hand at the helm, working so well with the dedicated NY staff, Association leadership at all levels, over 30 Area Chairs, the leaders of many Association ministry programs, and much more.

We honor Jeff with this new St. Francis award for all he has done in selfless support of our mission, but also like St Francis, Jeff embodies these qualities: humility, simplicity, kindness, selflessness, gentleness, thoughtful, wise, hopeful, faith-filled, welcoming, forgiving, and patient with all.

Finally, Nancy made a number of comparisons between Jeff and St. Francis:
Like Francis, Jeff finds great joy in preaching the Gospel; the mission that God entrusted to Jeff, like Francis, was made known to him gradually, and often in mysterious ways; Jeff’s devotion and loyalty to the Church, like Francis, are absolute and highly exemplary; like Francis, Jeff renounced a life of wealth and status, and turned more deeply towards God, the Church, and serving the sick, the poor, and all those at the margins of society; Like Francis, one of Jeff’s outstanding virtues is his compassion, which reaches out to all, but especially to the marginalized and the underprivileged; it has been the Holy Spirit, guiding and enlightening Jeff, like Francis, that has made his ministry to souls so fruitful; like Francis, Jeff is always humble in thought, word, and deed!

On behalf of the extended Boston Area, and beyond, it is our great honor tonight to present you with the 2021 St. Francis Award!

After the liturgy, all in attendance moved up and onto the altar, gathered together for a wonderful group photo!

Sr. Janet Eisner and Sr. Anne Donovan then encouraged everyone to convene down the hall for the reception and a seated buffet dinner. As a bit of background on the College, Emmanuel’s 17-acre campus is located adjacent to the Longwood Medical District in the Fenway area of Boston. The gated campus consists of 11 buildings, including seven academic buildings and four dormitories Approximately 75% of Emmanuel’s traditional undergraduates reside in the residence halls on campus, while the remainder commute from the local area. Emmanuel College was ranked among the top ten best college locations in America, and #1 in Massachusetts.

As attendees slowly finished the tasty dinner, and started to dive into the fabulous dessert offerings, the after dinner program was called to order. First, all were encouraged to join is a round of applause in gratitude to Sr. Janet, Sr. Anne, and Jack MacKinnon, (above with Msgr. O’Leary) again, for the warm welcome and gracious hospitality. Then Craig & Nancy invited both Peter Kelly and Ed Delaney to share a few words, and then made note of many other attendees. They also invited everyone to join in a moment of praise for both Linda Kelly and Kathy Delaney for their remarkable support these past few years.

The speaker program started off with Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Trexler. Deacon Jeff shared the following thoughts:

First, many thanks for the St. Francis award this evening. I am honored and humbled. Ironically, St Francis is my favorite Saint. Forty years ago, this Dec. 12th, I came into full communion as a Catholic. I received into the Catholic Church at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C.

Craig and Nancy has requested a few remarks about the American Association and the year ahead. Even with Covid, we have stayed active and continued to help those in need. We refocused on the essential needs. Areas gave most of their grant monies and used them for providing essential food for the in need. Remember the food lines with so many people out of work. We also focused on helping essential workers with protective gear to protect themselves as they cared for the citizens of their communities.

Next year we will expand on additional new projects with human trafficking, assisted physician suicidal and palliative care. In addition Areas will be encouraged to start new projects of their own. Monies will be available to help with associated ‘start up’ costs. Even though we won’t be going to Lourdes, we are preparing for 2023. The Pilgrimage for Life and the OLGH Pilgrimage will be realities. The January Retreat registrations are over the top. People are anxious to be out and about.

Thanking Nancy and Craig for for their past three years as your Area Chairs and we feel the Tommy Driscoll will continue to steer the ship in the right direction as he takes the helm. Thanks for your hospitality, I always feel I am at home here. God bless you all, Merry Christmas and Happy, Healthy, and Peaceful New Year!

After a robust round of applause, we then introduced our next speakers, Gail and Joe Berardino, Co-Chairs of the Called to Serve Capital Campaign. Here are highlights from their talk:

During this Advent season and culminating with Christmas Day we are grateful for God’s blessings. As members of the Order of Malta we enter the new year reminding ourselves that we are all God’s children and we reaffirm our willingness to be nimble in our response to the needs of the sick and the poor.

Through the “quiet phase” of our “Called to Serve” Campaign so many of you have played a pivotal role. We have received pledges as of this writing of $12 million from 110 members of which $10million has been pledged by 40 families who have pledged over $100,000 each.

We seek to create this legacy primarily by investing in the signature work of the Order, the Lourdes Pilgrimage through fully funding our Pilgrimage Foundation to ensure that in good times and in bad we will always be able to afford to bring malades and their caregivers to Lourdes. Further, we desire to provide robust financial support to our 30 local areas and global ministries by doubling the Malta Human Services Foundation. We are well on our way to meeting our intended Campaign goal of $20 million. Thank you.

As many of you may know, President Peter Kelly, MD has recently appointed Tommy Driscoll as the new Area Chair for the Boston Area, succeeding current Area Co-Chairs Craig and Nancy Gibson. Tommy’s term will begin on January 1, 2022. In honor of this transition, Tommy, and his wife, Jane, were invited forward for a “Blessing for a New Area Chair” provided by Deacon Jeff Trexler, and with hands-on support from Peter Kelly, Ed Delaney, Craig & Nancy Gibson.

Loving God,
in Your love for us, You sent Your Son
to be our Shepherd, and Leader,
our Brother, and our Lord.
You continue to show Your love for us
by sending us new Area Chairs to care for our members.

Bless Tommy Driscoll, and his wife, Jane
as he takes up this new responsibility
as the Boston Area Chair.

Guide him in his work
fill him with patience and love,
and let your Spirit of wisdom and understanding
be with him, and give him joy,
and peace in his heart.

We make this blessing
through Jesus Christ Your Son
in the love of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.
Amen

Many thanks for being radiant signs of God’s love in the world, and for witnessing the joy of Gospel in thought, word, and deed!

Advent blessings, good health, and love to all.

Order of Malta, American Association, U.S.A.

American Association, U.S.A
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