2011 Review: A memorable year for Canton parishes

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Sister Catherine Gilmore, left, and Sister Francis Marilyn, right, are pictured with Cardinal Sean O’Malley after the archbishop of Boston celebrated Mass at St. John’s Church in honor of the church’s sesquicentennial in June.

It was a noteworthy year for the two Catholic parishes in town as St. John the Evangelist and St. Gerard Majella both made headlines in 2011.

St. John’s celebrated its sesquicentennial — “150 years of faith” — with a series of special events, including an anniversary mass on June 5 with Sean Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, along with many clergy, deacons, and religious leaders from St. John’s past and present. Among those present for the mass was Rev. James L. McCune, who served as pastor for 17 years (1983-2000) and previously served as secretary and master of ceremonies to Cardinal Humberto Sousa Medeiros. Sadly, McCune passed away on December 7 at the age of 79, and hundreds turned out for his funeral mass, which was led by Cardinal O’Malley at Father McCune’s home parish of St. John’s.

On the other end of town, St. Gerard’s continued its tradition of attracting youth to the parish with another wildly popular summer “Kids Camp” as well as ongoing service activities, including its homeless ministry and Christmas in the City. But the year ended on a sour note with the dismissal of popular music director Greg Pare, who oversaw a diverse array of choirs and ensembles during his ten years at the parish.

The decision to dismiss Pare, reportedly due to budget constraints, was met with widespread disapproval and shock among parishioners when it was announced by St. Gerard’s pastor, Father Jack Sullivan, at an impromptu meeting on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The move produced an outpouring of support for Pare, and some parishioners even left the church when it became clear that he would not be retained.

The decision also touched off fears that the music program had been eliminated entirely. However, the year ended with church leaders insisting that there would be a new music program, both for Christmas and beyond.

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