The three-day celebration of the golden jubilee of His Eminence, William Cardinal O’Connell, reached its culmination yesterday forenoon in what was literally a “mass meeting” of about 40,000 persons in Fenway Park. It was certainly one of the most impressive Sunday services ever held in this city.
On the program it was called an “Open-Air Mass and Religious Civic Ceremony.” And, in a way, that describes it. But there was something more to it – there was something that could not possibly be embodied in a phrase.
In the first place there was an atmosphere of kindliness, sympathy and fellowship, tempered with spiritual dignity, which everybody in that vast concourse felt. It wasn’t merely during the mass, which the Cardinal celebrated – it was something radiant that was felt by everybody throughout the whole meeting.
It seemed like a sort of preparation for the unforgettable address of the Cardinal after all the others had spoken – his response to what had been said in the way of eulogy by the other speakers, and to all the token of esteem that have been showered upon him the past week or more, from all over the world.
There was a spirit of exaltation in that address – of fine tolerance and broad sympathies. No one present – who saw it and heard it – will soon forget his splendid eulogy of the Jewish race or his fervent words of regard for President Roosevelt. The applause showed that his words had touched the hearts of those present.
The day and the time and the place were all perfect for such exercises. The weather was beautiful during the hours of the service. And the arrangements also were perfect. The altar, flower embowered, was in the center of the field, about 200 feet from the grandstand.
The immense audience had been coming into the grandstands for an hour or more before the exercises began. They came from all over Greater Boston and from distant points in the Archdiocese. And they were all promptly cared for.
The great applause came when the Cardinal, in his red robes and beretta, with the other prelates and guests, appeared and moved slowly in processional between the line of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus to the altar.