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!

UPDATED: An open letter to the Saint Kevin property managers — let us say a proper good-bye before the church is demolished

Saint Kevin School Grades 5-8 and "Center" building
Saint Kevin School Grades 5-8 and “Center” building

By Robert Gillis
Published in the Boston City Paper, 3/2014

(Written at the request of a great group of people on the FaceBook group “ST KEVIN PARISH & SCHOOL / UPHAMS CORNER – DORCHESTER MA” — Current Former residents of Uphams Corner and St Kevin’s Parish, welcoming all residents from the 40’s – 80’s)

This is an open letter and formal request to the people in charge of the former Saint Kevin property – we are asking for a chance to walk inside these buildings one last time and say a proper good-bye.

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!

The National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro — it’s more than just Christmas Lights

Note: Originally published 11/28/2012, and one of the most important pieces I have ever written, please note the following:

  • The 2012 concerts noted here have obviously taken place; CLICK HERE FOR THE LA SALETTE WEB SITE for current events
  • I’m happy to report that Father Pat has recovered and looks great and continues his concert series and work at the shrine.
  • The annual lighting continues each year between Thanksgiving and the Sunday before Little Christmas in January, celebrating its 63rd year in 2016!
Click here to read the rest of this post!

Grieving the Saint Kevin’s Property

By Robert Gillis
Published in the Boston City Paper 7/2012 and the Foxboro Reporter 8/2012

ived my first 25 years in Dorchester, and while I have moved away, I am still OFD down to my DNA and wanted to share some thoughts about the Saint Kevin property.

As an overview: The church and school were created in the 1940s or so and were kept alive and flourishing by its most famous pastor, the late Father J.

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!

Thoughts on visiting seven churches on Holy Thursday

Preparing for the Holy Thursday washing of the feet at Saint Catherine of Siena

By Robert Gillis


Published in the Foxboro Reporter and the Boston City paper, 5/2011.

While Easter has passed and elections have been in full swing here in Foxboro, we are still in the Easter season, so perhaps my message is still timely.

There is an old tradition of visiting seven churches on Holy Thursday (the day before Good Friday). The practice probably dates back to in ancient Rome, when early Christian pilgrims visited the seven major churches as an act of penance.

Click here to read the rest of this post!

Eileen Gustin and the Advent Wreath

by Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter 12/2008 and 12/2005, and the Boston City Paper 12/2008

When I was a teenager, our friend Eileen Gustin worked at the information desk at nearby Saint Margaret’s Hospital on Cushing Avenue. Everyone liked her — she was like a wonderful aunt to all the neighborhood kids. She always had something good to say about everyone, and she was a person of very deep faith, with a strong love of God.

Click here to read the rest of this post!

Visiting Seven Churches on Good Friday — and trying to reconnect with Faith

 Interior of beautiful St Leonard Church, North End 42 North End - Saint Leonards Church
Interior of beautiful St Leonard Church, North End 42 North End – Saint Leonards Church

By Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and the Boston City paper 3/2008

Years ago, Mom explained that you receive what is known as a plenary indulgence if you visited seven churches on Good Friday. I did find a reference to receiving an indulgence for “Devoutly take part in the adoration of the cross during the solemn liturgy of Good Friday.” And I see that many countries still practice a tradition of visiting seven churches on either Holy Thursday or Good Friday.

Click here to read the rest of this post!

In loving memory of Father John Joseph Kierce

In loving memory of Father John Joseph Kierce,
pastor of Saint Kevin Church, Uphams Corner, Dorchester for 50 years

by Robert Gillis
published in the Foxboro Reporter, 3/2006 and the Boston City Paper 6/2006

Without exception, every priest I have ever met — every single priest I have ever met in my entire life — has been an inspiration, a role model, and a good person doing a difficult, sometimes Herculean job.

I have laughed with many of them, and I cried with more than a few.

Click here to read the rest of this post!

Celebrating the priesthood

StAnthonyby Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter 6/2005 and the Boston City Paper 2006

The evil actions of a very small percentage of priests have cast a shadow of suspicion, fear, and hostility toward the entire vocation, and that’s a tragedy, and an insult to the huge number of good men who have devoted their entire lives in the service of God.

As a Roman Catholic, I have a great respect and love for the priesthood.

Click here to read the rest of this post!

Remembering Pope John Paul II

Pope John-Paul II in 1979. CNN.com image
Pope John-Paul II in 1979. CNN.com image

by Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter 4/2005 and the Boston City Paper 4/2007

The legacy of Pope John Paul II will be chronicled, celebrated, debated, cherished, pondered, analyzed, and remembered for many years to come. He has been pope for all but 13 years of my life, and I miss him. Although I am relieved his suffering his ended, I grieve at his passing.

It’s been very hard to watch the Holy Father fail over the last few years.

Click here to read the rest of this post!

You can go home again; my visit to Dorchester and Saint Kevin School and Church


by Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter 6/2003 and the Boston City paper in 2006

It’s Friday afternoon, the last day of my vacation, and I’m feeling nostalgic. I don’t know why, but I can’t get my mind away from my old stomping grounds in Dorchester. My old neighborhood has been on my mind so much that it’s practically a compulsion that I take the only sunny day in recent memory, point the car north on route 95 and head back here I grew up, trusty digital camera at my side.

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!