Midnight Mass candle bearers. How one Monsignor dismissed the Choir. Blessed Sacrament Churches in Rochester NY, Washington DC
Copyright 2013 Franklyn E. Dailey Jr.
Our family lived at 185 Rutgers Street in Rochester New York, in the years, 1956-1959. Msgr. Connors, in his eighties (he baptized the author in 1921), was still Pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church, where a Christmas midnight Mass was celebrated on one of Lake Ontario's snowy winter nights. Our son Tom was born at Rochester's new Northside General Hospital in September of 1957, so the Christmas of that year was his first Nativity experience.
"Midnight Mass" in those years actually began at midnight. At his age, Msgr. Connors now had uncertain gait, and his young Concelebrants (one was Father Sundholm, the older boys' football coach) made sure to assist him up and down the steep altar steps. Solemn High Masses took time, a lot of time. All this, before Vatican II.
Our three altar boys, Frank, Mike and Phil, were in the upper grades at Blessed Sacrament School, and were escorting first and second grade boys around the Church. These "little ones" held electric candles. All sang Christmas Carols during the transition parts of the Mass. I was sitting near the aisle, up front. Mother Peggy was taking care of our younger brood, including infant Tom at home.
By 1:30 a.m., the two Concelebrants had lost a good bit of their energy, while Msgr. Connors was getting his second wind, and coming on strong!
A very small boy in the electric candle holder group fainted, and fell to the floor.
Quickly, an usher came forward and told the senior altar boy group that he would go and find the parents of the fainted-away candle bearer. While announcing his intention, he switched off the youngster's candle. Negative thoughts flashed through my mind.
I was not alone in such thoughts. Our two oldest, Frank and Mike, handed their real candles to brother Phil to tend, picked up the fallen youth, cradled him in a basket formed by their arms, switched his electric candle back on, and carried him to the church entrance foyer. The Sisters of St. Joseph at Blessed Sacrament Parochial School, as all Sisters in our experience, taught leadership, and it works! Their silent communication of strength and intuition was never more apparent than in the recovery of the fallen candle bearer. He was laughing and happy and sipping water by the time two senior candle-bearers had him delivered to the back of the Church, just moments after his midnight Mass experience. And, his "candle" was lighted!
I had an endearing story to go home and tell our group's mother, no slouch herself in the leadership business.
Peggy Parker Dailey, you raised Franklyn, Michael, Philip, Elizabeth, John, Paul, Thomas and Vincent to carry the Dailey name, but the Parker leadership heritage, and you did it so well I hardly noticed until I looked back in 2010 and marveled at what a mother has meant to this family. Your grateful and loving husband, Frank.
New Subject by virtue of entry on this page November 29, 2010, but an "old subject" as it is connected in more ways than one with what you have just read above about Altar Boys at Blessed Sacrament Church in Rochester, New York. This family made 17 stops in all, as the war bride in the paragraph just before this one, met a gunnery officer from destroyers in the Mediterranean, and married him in St. Patrick's Cathedral on April 1, 1944. Then, his second naval career found him flying in the Aleutians, as she began the trek to 'follow the fleet' and give the family the children just noted above. Here are some thoughts the Naval Officer wrote about this family's stay in the nation's capital, Washington DC, just prior to the family's stay in Rochester, New York. In Washington DC, we find them churched at another Church of the Most Blessed Sacrament, on Chevy Chase Circle. Here are the thoughts he penned about that stay:
Remembrances of Washington D.C. 1953-1956 (Some name dropping here.)
We lived first at 5902 32nd Street NW. Then at 33rd and Morrison St. NW
We attended Blessed Sacrarment Church on Chevy Chase Circle, and went to either the German bakery or the French bakery, Avignon Freres, both on that Circle, after Mass.
The Pastor, Msgr. Roach, dis-established the volunteer choir soon after our arrival. He invited that choir to a Saturday night dinner at a restaurant. He hosted the group and told them that he had hired Mr. Sears, an AGO (American Guild of Organists) member, to begin a Mens and Boys Choir that would come from "tryouts." I "passed" because I could pronounce the Latin and Mike, our second born, passed because he still had a "boy" voice.
We sang a Jubilate Deo at our first Mass. I learned "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent." Though my voice was always suspect, the organ accompanists that I encountered in later years were impressed that I knew and could sing that hymn.
The kids went to Lafayette School just behind our 32nd St. home for the preschool, then entered Blessed Sacrament school. Dad coached the '6-man' football team. Dad played tennis at the courts in the park behind the school. And he also played at NOL Whiteoak MD, where he won a 2nd place doubles award, because he blew partner Walter Pate's chance to win a first place, when Dad choked on a couple of late shots.
We went to the Washington 'U-Monument' according to the boys idea of that place. We went on Saturday mornings to the sessions at the Smithsonian.
Mike beat Frank at the fishing derby down near where the floating bandstand was tied up in the Potomac. Mike cast once and caught the largest fish, a catfish. Frank cast a hundred times and caught a little perch.
Peg's mother was terrified at the Zoo when we drove on the Rock Creek Park road that had running water coursing over it.
Dad was the sole duty officer at NOL Whiteoak in Silver Spring MD, patrolling the perimeter in a jeep one night. Early next morning, still on the weekend duty, Dad found himself out of cigarettes and his favorite brand absent from the vending machine. Dad quit smoking on the spot. It was 1953 or early 1954.
Mother made friends like crazy, next door neighbors on both sides, and a Chinese family behind us on the alley on 32nd street who were part of Chiang Kai Shek's anti communist conservative government, by then out of power, and left over from the Chennault days of WW II. You made friends in Washingon quickly because between military and diplomatic corps, folks moved frequently.
Children and parents nervous when visiting Navy Captain Dennis Knoll and his wife. She was Peg's cousin Genevieve, who regularly pointed out fragile glass and china on their coffee tables. Bernie and Mary Frese, for whom Frank had served as 'best man,' lived then on Western Avenue. later in Bethesda. and Peg babysat their boy child. Japanese beetles were running amok in roses, and there were beetle traps all over DC.
East-west hiway connects Silver Spring and Bethesda. Wheelspokes out of central Washington DC are Conn. Ave and Wisconsin Ave. Off Conn. Ave., going north, take Nebraska Ave. to the right ,to get to where we lived. At Nebraska Ave., on Conn. Ave., was a Safeway, and a pharmacy/liquor store (name like 'Hunter') that Genevieve Knoll depended on for "deliveries." She had a 'prescription' that never ended. Until death. (those glass things on her coffee table survived, tho)
While stopped at the Nebraska Avenue light on Conn. Ave. one day, waiting to turn right onto Nebraska, in the center lane I spotted Pat Nixon and her two young daughters in a car waiting for same light. They were on their way to the Vice President's home,. This was before the Navy CNO lost their family quarters at the Naval Observatory, where our Vice Presidents' families live now.
Mortgage on first home held by previous owner who had joined the Jewish contingent in Florida. Very nice arrangment, taught me about interest. Second home mortgagor was First Federal Savings and Loan in Bethesda.
Often went out Wisconsin Ave to Bethesda Naval Hospital where John and Paul were born (Nov. 53 and Dec 54 resp'y) and where first SecDef James V. Forrestal, Naval Aviator 154, committed suicide by jumping from an upstairs window.
There was a Navy officers club at the Bethesda Hospital and "Tippy" Stringer sang. She later married Chet Huntley of NBC's Huntley-Brinkley report. Tippy sang 'on air' for National Airlines, the "Airline of the Stars.". Huntley died in the prime of his life but Tippy may still be living on their ranch in Idaho. (Edited for a second time by that same Dad, on November 29, 2010.)