A new St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church has risen from the ashes on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, reader Frank Foley writes. "It was dedicated on June 18 after years of planning and hard work," he reported in an e-mail.
"The church received its pews and other church furnishings as a donation from Cardinal O'Malley's diocese in Boston, as well as a unique cross from the people of Kinsale, Ireland."
While Montserrat is a British overseas territory, it is known as the "Emerald Isle of the Caribbean," and is the only country outside of Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick's Day as a national holiday.
Historians say the English colony was opened by its governor, a Wexford man, as a refuge for Irish Catholics who had served their time as indentured servants under the British penal laws. Montserrat since then has maintained a strong Irish influence.
In Boston, Montserrat natives living locally get together each year for a St. Patrick's Day celebration co-sponsored by the Irish Immigration Center and the Montserrat Aspirers' Club of Dorchester.
Foley writes, "In tune with the church's Irish connection, during the dedication service there was the presentation of a special cross from the people of Kinsale, Ireland, which holds special significance as the village of Kinsale in Montserrat was among those destroyed by the volcano. The cross, handmade of stainless steel, features a symbolic sail representing the voyage across the ocean, and was accepted by Minister of Government Charles Kirnon on behalf of the people of Montserrat. [The parish priest] Father George Agger was instrumental in making the original contact between Kinsale in Ireland and the church in Montserrat."
Foley was on hand to witness the dedication in June, and now he says he hopes to fine someone to donate "a grand Saint Patrick's statue" to grace the church. We will have more about the church in next month's issue of the BIR. For now, readers can see photos on line at tinyurl.com/kshawq.
I had a rather pleasant experience last month in dealing with a government agency, and it's something that bears the telling.
With a milestone birthday looming, it was time to contact the Social Security (SS) Adminstration to begin the process of filing for Medicare benefits. There was a recollection that the local SS office was once located on Gallivan Blvd inn Adams Corner, but it re-located several years ago to Freeport Street.
In this new digital age, the first step was to go online, and with a visit to socialsecurity.gov, a wide array of information became available. By typing in a Dorchester zip code, the website quickly gave me the local address- 115 Freeport Street- and a street map giving the exact location. It also informed that an appointment would be necessary, gave a toll free phone number to call to set it up. A very courteous and respectful person answered the call, and set-up a time that would work within two weeks.
When the appointed day arrive, and I drove to Freeport Street and parked in an adjacent lot. Entering the office, an electronic sign-in computer printed out my name and confirmed my appointment. After a brief wait, a very courteous staffer called me in, and completed the necessary forms. The entire transaction was very efficient, and I was back in my car an on my way in less than a half hour.
I did cause the appointment to be prolonged just a bit, as I took the time at the end to offer my thanks to the woman who had just helped me enroll. My experience in this, my first encounter with Social Security, was entirely pleasant and helpful. I paused to consider how so many public servants- police officers, bus drivers, letter carriers, and others- offer invaluable assistance to the public, and do their jobs so well.
Too often, public employees get a bad rap. But that comes largely from the get-a-life talk radio crowd and their broadcast cheerleaders who waste so much of their waking hours grousing and complaining. As for me, last week I needed some assistance from a federal bureaucrat- and I got all that I needed. Thanks.
(Before visiting your local SS office, it is helpful to call toll-free,1-800-772-1213, and make an appointment.)
At last the national conversation about reforming the health care system is underway, and it's an important step towards controlling the current economic malaise.
In June, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed "that a very solid majority - 62 percent - support taxing those who make more than $250,000 to pay for health-care reform." The puzzler is whether the political crowd in Washington can put down their swords and fashion a new health care system that everyone can live with.