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Many cite bishop's youth and his vigor

By David Arnold, Globe Staff, 1/25/1984

e paused midstep in the rain, taking time to choose words to describe how he felt about the man appointed to be Boston's next archbishop.

"It's simply the best thing that's happened in a long time to this city," said Robert Hanson of East Boston, especially pleased that Bishop Bernard Francis Law is "only 52 and full of vigor."

Hanson, who had just attended a late-morning Mass at Saint Anthony's Shrine in Boston yesterday, was one of a number of residents of the greater Boston area who were asked yesterday to comment on the appointment of Bishop Law as the new archbishop of Boston.

A few expressed disappointment that the archbishop's seat had not been filled by a local member of the clergy familiar with Boston's lifestyles. Others, however, said Bishop Law's participation in Mississippi civil rights struggles and a boyhood spent in Mexico and the Virgin Islands would give him new insight into solutions to some of the city's problems.

Everyone expressed hope, be it for themselves, for the needy, or for the more than 2 million members of the Boston archdiocese.

"It's his youth," said Hanson of Bishop Law. "The man is going to need energy. And it sounds like this guy's got it."

In the North End, John Vita, 75, and Albert Arillotta, 22, were chatting outside Jerry's Barbershop at the corner of Endicott and Thacher streets.

"I read he's one heck of a guy," Arillotta said. "It's good we have someone born in Mexico coming to Boston. Like someone Polish becoming a Pope. Adds new perspective."

Vita agreed. He is a member of St. Mary's Church, located across the street from the barber shop. Vita wore a necktie; his companion wore lizard- skin boots. "We need some mixture in this world. Old traits can't last forever."

Geraldine Abban of South Boston had some reservations about the choice of Bishop Law, although she said she respected the breadth of his religious experience.

"(Bishop Law* may do a wonderful job here," Abban said from behind the register at the Bell Cash Market on Dorchester street, "but I believe the selection of an archbishop should have been made from one of our own.

"There were very intelligent candidates right here, from the Boston archdiocese," she said. "They already know the different lifestyles we live here."

Marion Martin of Brookline stopped outside the Paulist Center on Park street to say: "I understand he has vitality, and that he's an able administrator not only of the church's business but of the spiritual needs of its members as well." As with others interviewed, Martin knew of Bishop Law only through news reports she had read or heard during the morning.

Robert Condon sipped coffee in the rain outside Saint Anthony's Shrine. With him were about 40 men and women eating sandwiches prepared by members of Saint Anthony's Breadline. "This guy Law sounds like a good man, like Cardinal (Richard* Cushing, a guy who will give the homeless a fair shake."

Alice Wright of Dorchester stopped as she walked up Park street. "Arson, racism and the schools, those are the biggest problems facing Boston today. Bishop Law may lend new insight into old problems. Solutions may be staring us in the face but we may not have enough distance to see them."

Arthur Newmeyer, a part-time student at Harvard University and a member of St. Paul's parish in Cambridge, said: "Change. We need it, and it sounds like we're going to get it."

Beatrice Masone prepared a meal of spaghetti and meat sauce that she would shortly serve to members of the hot-lunch program at St. Patrick's Church in Roxbury.

"We must be honest. Racism is a problem in this city that a man who stood through the worst in Mississippi may be able to solve. He gives me hope for myself and hope for my city.

"I asked myself this morning, Can he make a difference?' And I say: We gotta give the man a chance."

This story ran in the Boston Globe on 1/25/1984.
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