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Some fighting cell tower for this dead spot

Posted May 7, 2008 10:17 AM

Patty and Joel Osborne, photographed with a grave they adopted at St. George's Cemetery, are concerned that a 100-foot cell tower planned for the woods nearby could disturb unkept or unmarked graves in the proposed site.
(Globe staff photo by Wiqan Ang)


In what is now the oldest, most overgrown corner of St. George Cemetery, Anne Collins buried her 6-month-old son in 1861, and a few months later, her 26-year-old husband. Nearby, in a shady spot now nearly hidden by trees, Patrick Murphy bid farewell to his wife, Bridget, in 1884 with a simple stone carrying a straightforward message: "May her soul rest in peace. Amen."

But that rest may no longer be so peaceful. The cellular giant T-Mobile is seeking to build a soaring 100-foot-tall cellphone tower in a wooded patch at the edge of the graveyard. The Archdiocese of Boston, which owns the cemetery, has approved the plan and agreed to lease the spot to the company.

The proposal - which still must be approved by Framingham's Zoning Board of Appeals - has enraged the Cherry Street Neighborhood Association, a band of several dozen self-appointed guardians who say that installing the planned tower and a surrounding 8-foot-tall fence violates the memories of people buried nearby.

"This is a sacred place," said Margaret Sleczkowski, who has been living in a cottage next to the cemetery for 38 years. Her eyes welled up with angry tears when she talked about the prospect of maintenance trucks driving past the hundreds of old gravestones on the property's only access road to the woods.

Sleczkowski said the cemetery's dead "depend on us to protect them."

The Boston Archdiocese maintains that the proposed tower is disrespectful neither to the dead nor to the living trying to pay their respects.

"We would never do anything to desecrate a cemetery," said Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese. "We are responsible for the perpetual care of the loved ones who are in our cemeteries. Under no circumstances would we tolerate, nor would we act in a way that would break that bond of commitment that we have."

Read more about the controversy over the proposed cemetery cell tower in the online edition of today's City & Region section.

-- Erica Noonan and Manny Veiga

Seeking closure

Posted June 10, 2007 10:26 AM

After Assumption Parish in Bellingham closed, parishioners joined St. Blaise and have made its community stronger, Pastor Michael Kearney says.
(Photo by Rose Lincoln for the Boston Globe)


As he looked out over the sea of faces in the packed hall where members of the St. Blaise community had gathered, Bert Galipeau couldn't help but smile.

Two years earlier, as head of the closure committee for Assumption Parish, he had overseen the heartbreaking move of the statues of the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph, St. Ann, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Blaise, another Bellingham parish 5 miles away. He could still remember the looks of pain and reproach from his fellow parishioners at Assumption, who were being asked to join St. Blaise -- and the looks of wariness and suspicion at St. Blaise.

But the faces of the members of the combined parish last weekend were full of warmth and joy as they marked the 25th anniversary of the ordination of their popular pastor, the Rev. Michael J. Kearney.

"For the first time," said Galipeau, a 66-year-old retired technology executive, "I saw one parish, not two. It was like getting married all over again."

In May 2004, the Archdiocese of Boston announced it would radically reconfigure its parishes in order to address demographic shifts, a shortage of priests, and the huge financial deficits caused by settlements from the clergy abuse scandal. In Boston's western suburbs, 10 parishes were closed, merged with other parishes, or had their parish status downgraded.

In the aftermath, thousands of local Catholics had their religious lives turned upside down, according to a story on the cover of today's Globe West. By archdiocesan estimates, as many as 20 percent of parishioners in closed or merged parishes have either stopped attending Mass or have become so-called "roaming Catholics," who continue to attend church but have not registered as members of a new parish.

Check out the story online or view a photo gallery showing how local Catholics are adapting to life after reconfiguration.

Keeping vigil

Posted July 31, 2006 03:36 PM


It’s an annual event, but one that has taken on particular significance in light of the current hostilities between Israel and Lebanon-based Hezbollah militants.

Members of the Newton area’s Jewish community will gather tonight at the Newton War Memorial on the grounds of City Hall for a “Community Vigil for Israeli Victims of Terror.”

The 6 p.m. event -- which is sponsored by the Boston Israel Action Committee; the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston; Congregation Beth El – Atereth Israel, Congregation Shaarei Tefillah and Temple Emanuel of Newton; The David Project; Young Israel of Brookline; and the South Area Israel Action Team – is expected to draw a larger crowd that usual due to the current fighting.

Officials said they are also watching for a possible increase in the number of counter-demonstrators, especially after an Israeli air strike on Sunday killed 54 civilians in the town of Qana, including 19 children. The Israeli government called the attack a “tragic mistake” and announced a 48-hour cessation of air strikes on suspected Hezbollah targets so it could investigate what happened.

Continue watching this space for a report from the vigil tonight…

-- Ralph Ranalli

A Cantor's New Gig

Posted July 13, 2006 05:08 PM


Cantor Charles Osborne is back.

The 56-year-old Newton resident has composed more than 100 choral settings of liturgy and sacred texts; four oratorios; a symphony; and concertos for the flute, guitar, and viola -- including works performed in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.

But for better or worse, he is best known locally for walking out of Newton's Temple Emanuel -- where he served as cantor for 18 years -- in the middle of a service after an associate rabbi gave an impassioned sermon in March calling on Conservative Jews to sanction gay marriage.

Osborne is back, this time with his own music-oriented congregation. He says the emphasis will be on harmony, not discord as he helps establish the new Adath Shir Rinah, which translates to "Congregation Song of Joy." The temple will open its doors on Sept. 1, though where those doors will be has yet to be determined.

Osborne said that he hopes that gays and lesbians would feel comfortable joining his new congregation.

“Everybody has the right to live their life with acceptance and dignity,” said Osborne. “I don’t think that this [gay marriage] is in any way, shape, or form, a black and white issue.”

Read more about Osborne's new endeavor in this Sunday's Globe West.

Christian bookstore comes to the suburbs

Posted July 5, 2006 11:35 AM


The largest Christian bookstore in New England has opened its doors in Needham.

Sanctuary -- located where Whittemore's church supply store sat for decades off Rte. 128 on Wexford St. -- is operated by Jubilee Christian Church of Boston, the largest evangelical church in the state.

The store has a huge selection of books, bibles and gifts, and is already garnering some attention.

Read more about it in this Thursday's Globe West.

About globe west updates Welcome to Globe West Updates, the news blog of the Globe West regional section of The Boston Globe. Check in with us often to see updated items about Boston's western suburbs from our staff reporters and correspondents. Give us your reaction to our stories in the print editions or on the blog by using the form below. Get involved — with Globe West!