Echoes. The 1842 dedication of St. Mary’s Church, Quincy. Published on 09/23/2022

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The 1842 dedication of St. Mary’s Church, Quincy


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The Boston Pilot, as it was called at the time, reported the presence of the “Venerable Sage of Quincy, John Q. Adams, and several members of his family, who throughout the Services showed the greatest interest depth and the most marked attention.”







Thomas
lester

On September 18, 1842, the parish church and graveyard of St. Mary, Quincy, was dedicated by Bishop Benedict Fenwick.
The bishop began his day at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Franklin Street, celebrating morning mass, then driving to Quincy; today, about nine miles south. By the time he arrived, a large crowd had already gathered, including former Massachusetts president and congressman John Quincy Adams, accompanied by his wife, Louisa.
They awaited the arrival of Father Terence Fitzsimmons, pastor of St. Augustine’s in South Boston, to whose care the Catholics of Quincy were also assigned. Like Bishop Fenwick, Father Fitzsimmons celebrated an early morning Mass with his congregation before departing for Quincy, his arrival at 10 a.m. marking the start of the day’s events.
The first was the dedication of the church, which Adams describes in his journal. The bishop, “in his Miter and pontificals”, was followed by Father Fitzsimmons, who in turn was followed by two boys from the choir who assisted him. They emerged from the sacristy and walked down the crowded center aisle and out of the church, “all around, sprinkling holy water as he (Bishop Fenwick) went”. They then returned to the church and the bishop “on his knees consecrated the altar”.

Bishop Fenwick then sat facing the crowd of nearly 500 people and delivered a speech establishing, in the words of Adams, “a close parallel between the construction of the Temple by Solomon and the erection of this church , and promised the people all the blessing which God promised Solomon, on the same conditions of obedience to his will, and laid down the same curses against them if they forsook God, for the world, the flesh, and the devil. “
Mass followed, with Father Fitzsimmons officiating and Bishop Fenwick delivering the sermon, attended by a well-received choir from Boston. At its conclusion, it was announced that Vespers would be celebrated at 3:15 p.m., and the bishop then went outside to bless the cemetery adjoining the church.
The Boston Pilot, as it was called at the time, reported the presence of the “Venerable Sage of Quincy, John Q. Adams, and several members of his family, who throughout the Services showed the greatest interest depth and the most marked attention.”
Bishop Fenwick commented that the church was “a neat building of domicile, erected in a fine position on large and fine grounds”. The new church was debt free and he acknowledged in his journal the contributions, most likely a mixture of money and labour, from local stonemasons and laborers employed at the local quarry, the majority residing in Quincy and Milton .
Adams notes that the events lasted about three hours, and it appears that he and Bishop Fenwick went to their conclusion. While Father Fitzsimmons officiated at Vespers, Bishop Fenwick dined with Lydia Russell, wife of the late Jonathan Russell, before returning to Boston.
In short, Lydia Russell had also attended the day’s events at St. Mary’s. Her husband had served as a diplomat in Europe and, along with John Quincy Adams, was among the delegates sent to negotiate the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812 with Britain. He returned to Massachusetts and was elected to the United States House of Representatives, but served only one term. In 1822 he published a pamphlet criticizing Adams for his role in the negotiations, claiming that he was pro-British and that he had helped to offer them favorable terms. Adams’ string of responses was so devastating that it is credited with ending Russell’s political career prematurely and he returned to Massachusetts when his term ended in 1823.
Sources:
— Archives, Archdiocese of Boston. Bishop’s Journal, vol. III. September 18, 1842, pages 4-5. [Transcript].
— “Dedication of the Quincy Church,” Boston Pilot, September 24, 1842. Accessed via journals.bc.edu.
— Massachusetts Historical Society. John Quincy Adams Digital Diary [Transcript] (www.masshist.org/publications/jqadiaries). September 18, 1842.

– Thomas Lester is the Archivist of the Archdiocese of Boston.

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