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November 16, 2012

Thanks in Advance.  Much Thanks.

  Every now and then, the need to offer thanks overwhelms what can be said in one lonely 500-word column in South Boston Online.  When that happens, the remedy is to say “Thanks” right up front - in advance of when the blessings are actually received.  How often have you said “Thanks in advance” the moment someone offered to do something for you?

  So let’s get to the point:  You might have heard that the customary Thanksgiving feast in the St. Monica/St. Augustine Church Hall was not going to happen this year.  For a brief period, that seemed to be the case.  But the loyalty South Boston has toward long-standing traditions, as well as our custom of stepping up and helping our neighbors, has changed that around.

  In short, the Thanksgiving Dinner is BACK ON!  It will take place on November 22, 11:30 to 1:30, in the St. Monica/St. Augustine Church Hall, courtesy of the St. Augustine Food Pantry (and many, many volunteers), exactly as it has in previous years.  Yes, exactly!  Including the delivery of meals to shut-ins, wherever they are needed.  If you want to have a meal delivered to your home, call (617)268-1230 and leave a message with your address and telephone number. 

  For the continuation of this tradition, South Boston Online gives a special, heartfelt “Thanks” a week in advance of our annual Thanksgiving Holiday message.

  As with all South Boston traditions, there’s a back story to be told.  Fr. Tom McDonnell, for many years the Pastor of St. Augustine Parish, was a highly knowledgeable Biblical scholar and writer.  He was especially a student of the scenes in the Gospels where meals were prepared and shared – some of them real dinners, others part of the parables.  Father Tom loved to refer to the Gospel of Luke as “The Hospitality Gospel” because of all the food that was eaten in Luke’s stories.

  To bring these Gospel stories to life, Father Tom became determined to imitate them here in South Boston on major feast days.  So in 1983, he called Frank Kelley, and said, “Frank, I need a hand.”  And what a hand he got.  Does anyone have any idea how many turkeys Frank and his Merry Band of Men and Women in the St. Augustine Food Pantry have prepared and served over the years?  A quick bit of back-of-the-envelope arithmetic tells this writer it has been more than 1,000 fat birds.  Yes, that’s one thousand turkeys.  Or more.

  When state Sen. Jack Hart heard about the potential cancellation of this year’s Thanksgiving Banquet at St. Monica’s, he called state Rep. Nick Collins and City Councilor Bill Linehan.  They immediately decided that it was a much too important tradition to lose, so they stepped up.  It’s not that they were seeking credit.  It’s just that between them, they simply felt continuing the Banquet was the right thing to do.  Tom Butler from Jack’s office is now coordinating the 2012 Thanksgiving Dinner efforts.

  The Dinner will take place, as usual, in the St. Monica/St. Augustine Church Hall on Thanksgiving Day from 11:30 a.m. till 1:30 p.m.  Come as early as 11:00 a.m. and enjoy some coffee and pastries.  Once again, if you want a meal delivered, call (617)268-1230.  Leave a message with your telephone number, and the address where the meal is to be delivered. 

  Over the years, all have been welcomed at the St. Monica/St. Augustine Thanksgiving Dinners.  No one had to be Catholic, or from South Boston, or poor, or anything.  Just show up, take a seat at the table, and be served a great dinner, with seconds if you wanted.  The Dinner was a model of diversity long before “diversity” turned into a buzzword.

  By the way, the Thanksgiving Dinner needs the services of volunteers.  Please call (617)268-1230 yourself and offer to take part in the good works.  Or just show up at 11:00 a.m.  Volunteering to help at the Thanksgiving Dinner is truly the way to keep the Spirit of the Holiday.  Please put thoughts of Black Friday aside for a day and lend a hand.

  And did you know that other faith-based organizations around here have provided countless meals over the years?   St. Brigid/Gate of Heaven, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Peter, the Fourth Presbyterian, Catholic Charities, and many others.  That’s the real Spirit of Thanksgiving in action.  Let’s keep that Spirit burning brightly.

  Thanks in advance for keeping the traditional Thanksgiving Dinners going.  Much thanks to everyone involved.    



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