Our Lady of the Assumption Church in East Boston Celebrates 150 Years

It was a special Mass on Sunday for parishioners and clergy at Our Lady of the Assumption Church on Sumner Street in East Boston.

The church, which stood the test of time in Jeffries Point, turned 150 years old Sunday. To mark to occasion Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston, said a special Mass at the church.

The service included music, prayer and a special homily by O’Malley.

“Each year we celebrate the birthday of the Church on Pentecost, recalling when Mary and the apostles gathered in prayer in the cenacle,” said O’Malley Sunday. “Today we celebrate the 150th birthday of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, with gratitude for the service given by the priests, religious sisters and parishioners during that history.  Today Our Lady of the Assumption Parish welcomes people from many countries and cultures, giving witness to the presence of Christ in our midst here and now and trusting in the intercession of our Blessed Mother.  May the good work of the parish continue for many years into the future as we confidently go forward in the name of the Lord.”

Our Lady of the Assumption was the third Catholic church in Eastie. Construction commenced on the building in 1869 and it was completed in 1873. 

Father James Fitton is largely credited with developing the Catholic Church in Eastie during the mid-nineteenth century.  He had done remarkable work travelling to missions throughout New England, including founding an academy in Worcester that was purchased by Bishop Fenwick and renamed College of the Holy Cross, and in 1855 settled in Eastie.

 The first parish in East Boston was the Most Holy Redeemer, initially called Saint Nicholas (1844); then Saint Mary Star of the Sea (1864); and the third Our Lady of the Assumption (1869).  It was meant to serve the east part of lower Eastie– a map from the twentieth century shows it encompassing the area east of Bremen Street and south of Prescott Street.

Father Fitton bought the land for the new church in the summer of 1867, on Sumner Street, and construction began in July 1869.  The work was overseen by Father Fitton’s nephew, Father Joseph H. Cassin, who was named rector on 7 December 1870.  The new church was dedicated 6 November 1873 and would grow to include a rectory, school and convent.  Father Cassin remained pastor until his death in 1896.

For a century and a half the church has been not only a place of worship but also a place of gathering and social activities not only for Jeffries Point residents but the entire community.

Over its long history the Assumption played host to a school, a successful CYO program, a youth drum-and-bugle corp program, dinners, dances, fundraisers, political gatherings, as well as ground zero for numerous community meetings regarding Logan Airport expansion in the 1960s.

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