Father Steve Madden leaving Saint Mary’s Foxboro in 2015

Rev. Stephen J. Madden, pastor of St. Mary's Church in Foxboro.   (Photo by Christine Igo Freeman, Foxboro Reporter)
Rev. Stephen J. Madden, pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Foxboro.  (Photo by Christine Igo Freeman, Foxboro Reporter)

By Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and the Boston City Paper 1/2015

And also sent, along with a personal letter, to His Eminence Seán Patrick O’Malley OFM


“Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words” – Father Steve Madden, quoting Saint Francis of Assisi.

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” — Meister Eckhart

Today I need to use words to convey my feelings because I know of no action that can get my message across in a better way — my heart is broken, and I am not alone.

Click here to read the rest of this post!

We All Want To Be Remembered

This card is sent to all BC High alumni each October to list the names of our beloved deceased and returned to the Loyola Chapel and the names are remembered at each mass in November
This card is sent to all BC High alumni each October to list the names of our beloved deceased and returned to the Loyola Chapel and the names are remembered at each mass in November

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City Paper, 11/2014

The month of November means many things: the beginning of the Christmas season (at precisely one second past Halloween), elections every two years, Thanksgiving, and Veterans Day, just to name a few.

Click here to read the rest of this post!

Remembering Tom Sawran, Foxboro Jaycee and so much more

2002-haunted-house-116by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 10/2013

Tom Sawran passed away last week, and if you’ve lived in Foxboro for any length of time you probably knew him. He was a paradox to be sure, but I liked Tom, and I respected him, and as a Jaycee mentor he taught me a lot.

While other tributes for Tom will likely come in from those who knew him best — his children, his family, his very closest confidants, I thought I would talk about the man from a Jaycee and Foxboro family perspective, and why his passing is a loss for us all in the chapter and the community at large.

Click here to read the rest of this post!

Celebrating the remarkable clergy of Saint Mary’s Foxboro

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City Paper, 5/2013

Father Steve Madden (right) with Father Jay (left) and Cardinal Sean O'Malley in 2009 at the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Saint Mary's Church
Father Steve Madden (right) with Father Jay Makos (left) and Cardinal Sean O’Malley in 2009 at the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Saint Mary’s Church.  Foxboro Reporter Photo

Each year around this time, I’ve made it a tradition to write a piece about spirituality, about faith, religion, or clergy who have made a difference in my life. While this column is not “church chat” and is intended toward folks of all faiths (or none), I’d like to talk today about three members of the clergy who make a difference, and encourage you, if you are so inclined, to thank your clergy or spiritual leaders as well.

Click here to read the rest of this post!

Foxboro town election 2013 — some thoughts, some advice, and a reminder to VOTE!

 The candidates for Foxboro selectman at candidates night, 2013
The candidates for Foxboro selectman at candidates night, 2013

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter 4/2012

As a Foxboro Jaycee, I was so honored to be the moderator for candidates night — yes, I was nervous but my main goal (beyond not passing out) was too ensure that things ran smoothly, ensure the candidates were all treated fairly, got their say, and that the information got out.

It was a welcome opportunity to “step out of my comfort zone” and be in front of the camera instead of my usual filming behind the camera.

Click here to read the rest of this post!

[Updated] Foxboro double power outage: Forgotten already?

Foxboro Reporter Image
Foxboro Reporter Image

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter 2/2012

It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I’m gassing up my car and a National Grid truck pulls into the lot. And then I realized, when was the last time I even thought about what happened to Foxboro last year, when we had two power outages in two months, and both outages lasted over five days? And as I drove away I thought — what happened?

Click here to read the rest of this post!

“Angels Are All Around You,” — remembering the kindness of Ewa Jedrychowska

Ewa Jedrychowski / Foxboro Reporter Photo

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City Paper, 2/2012

“Angels are all around you.”

It’s maybe ten years ago, a beautiful Saturday morning and I’ve just left Saint Mary’s 9am mass.

There’s an absolutely lovely older woman standing there in front of the church, smiling at me, and she is telling me that angels are all around me.

And that morning, whether she knew it or not, I needed to hear it.

Click here to read the rest of this post!

The prodigal son returns to church (again)

14 Church - Saint Marys Church FoxboroBy Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City paper 10/2011

A few years ago I attended a family wedding. During mass, several of my other cousins and extended family were looking at each other during mass, unsure of when to sit, stand, and so on. I overheard my favorite cousin Michelle whisper, “Just do what Bobby does, he knows.”

I was flattered by that comment and the perception that I was such an expert on the customs of mass, but I also felt some guilt.

Click here to read the rest of this post!

In loving memory of Mary Cicciu


by Robert Gillis; Foxboro Reporter December 2006

Mary Cicciu passed away November 10, and Foxboro has lost another of its rare gems.

I met Mary on Founders Day in 1995, at the senior’s tent on Booth playground, where her friends were celebrating her 84th birthday. I was immediately taken with her — she was special, and although I saw her infrequently, I just adored her.

Oh my Lord, what a feisty woman. She was short; very petite, but that small body held a fire and passion for life that people half her age have trouble finding.

Click here to read the rest of this post!

Foxboro Senior Center Christmas fair

Helping out at the Foxboro Senior Christmas Fair; Foxboro Reporter Image
Helping out at the Foxboro Senior Christmas Fair; Foxboro Reporter Image

Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter November 2000

Every year, it seems like the Christmas sales start earlier, and the decorations are in the stores sooner. The corporations begin their annual holiday blitzkrieg, inundating us with sale after sale.

It’s easy to become jaded as Christmas becomes more and more commercialized and arrives sooner every year. Many people choose to ignore the pre-Christmas hype.

Click here to read the rest of this post!

April, 2000: Saying Bon Voyage to Father Steve Madden

NOTE: THIS WAS WRITTEN IN 2000; IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR THE 2015 STORY CLICK HERE


By Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter April 2000

True story: Many years ago my mother went to confession to a priest I’ll call Father Brimstone. It had been a particularly stressful week, and Mom confessed that she’d yelled at my sister and me.

Father Brimstone let out a loud gasp and asked, “Would the Blessed Mother do that?”

Mom has no response for that, was a little hurt, and went to other priests for confession after Incident.

Click here to read the rest of this post!

My very first Reporter Column; Support your seniors!

One of the MANY fundraisers for the senior center; this was was a lot of fun as we spent a day making over 900 pizzas!
One of the MANY fundraisers for the Foxboro senior center; this was was a lot of fun as we spent a day making over 900 pizzas! Photo credit: Foxboro Reporter

(After many letters to the editor, I submitted this, my first full-length column to the Reporter.  After it ran, I approached editor Jeff Peterson about a regular, bi-weekly column, and he agreed we’d start with three, the first which ran a month later on April 25, 1996. 

Click here to read the rest of this post!