More than a 100 parishioners gathered at Mission Church for a fundraiser last month in memory of the late Father Joseph Manton. Father Manton, who died in 1998, served at Mission Church for 60 years. The eminent priest arrived on Mission Hill in 1939.
Father Manton often chuckled, “Ted Williams and I were Boston rookies the same year.” Father Manton was known as the “Novena priest” because of the thousands who would attend the Wednesday Novenas at Mission Church. I recall playing Little League baseball at Smith Street Playground more than 50 years ago and I could hear Father Manton’s voice administering the Novenas. I realized, even at a young age, that there was something powerful about this man with the booming voice.
A tip of the hat to the folks at the Mission Bar and Grill who served the delicious food at the fundraiser. I enjoyed sitting next to my lovely neighbor, Mary Todd, and also at the Father Manton dinner was my ‘67 Mission High classmate, Katie Gibbons. Katie is looking terrific. I conversed with Father Robert Lennon and also with our pastor, Father Joseph Tizio, a delightful priest.
The highlight of the evening was watching an old clip of Father Manton giving a sermon at the pulpit of Mission Church. Father Lennon, incidentally, played on the famous Mission Hill C.Y.O. baseball team in 1943. That group was a superb team, winning games at Braves Field and Fenway Park en route to the state championship. I fondly recall coaching the Mission Hill C.Y.O. baseball team in the early 1980s. We played our home games at McLaughlin Park, as did the ‘43 team. I coached a group of fine Mission Hill youngsters, who are now fine young men, including John Kern and Tony Green.
Condolences to the family of Mary Kelly, who passed away last month at age 93. Mary, a beautiful woman, had lived on Mission Hill for many years before moving to West Roxbury. She loved Mission Church and she volunteered her time back in the days of the church bingo games. Mary also supported the Mission Hill Post and its charitable functions. Mary will be missed.
Walking by the Puddingstone Tavern last Sunday evening I was pleasantly surprised to hear the jubilant sounds of Irish music. I entered the bar and enjoyed the music while sipping a Pabst Blue Ribbon draft beer. Rory, the bartender, tells me there will be Irish Sessions on Sundays from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. If there is Irish music, I’ll be there and perhaps I’ll spin to the music of the highland fling. Good luck in retirement to John Breen after almost 33 years as a police officer. John was a Boston Police officer for the past nine years and previously he worked for the Boston Municipal Police Department. John grew up in the Mission Hill project in Tobin Court. A rugged running back, John was my teammate on the last Killilea Club football championship team in 1979. His twin brother, Dennis Breen, also was an excellent player on the ‘79 Killilea Club team.
Jonah St. Clair, a junior, has been displaying his basketball prowess for the potent Malden Catholic High School hoop team, as high school tournament time approaches. Jonah, from Mission Hill, is 6’4” and he has an excellent all-around game and he is adept at handling the ball. Jonah’s dad, Jim St. Clair, was a power hitting first baseman for the Leo Grady team in the Mission Hill Softball League in the 1980s.
Jim Donovan from the Mission High School, class of ‘64 attends every hoop game at Malden Catholic, his adopted high school. Jim, gifted with a big heart, founded a scholarship fund to Malden Catholic. The scholarships are named in the memory of Jim’s three fallen Mission High classmates, John Moran, John Magee, and Franny Killilea, all of whom lost their lives in the Vietnam war.
A tip of the hat to Paul Kelley from Jamaica Plain for his financial support to the scholarship fund. Paul was a tough Mission High football player and Boston College graduate. Paul later served in Vietnam as an officer. Ann Magee, sister of the late John Magee, has also been generous to the scholarship fund.