By Fr. Bill Schmidt, St. Mary, Wrentham
How could the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ possibly have any connection with Catholic Young Adult Ministry in the Archdiocese of Boston? The month of August has taken on a fresh significance this year with the return of the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ to support research toward an eventual cure for ALS. Former Boston College Baseball Captain, Peter Frates of Beverly, along with Patrick Quinn of Yonkers, New York, initiated a world-wide phenomenon last summer, challenging government leaders, celebrities, professional athletes and hundreds of thousands of ordinary people of all ages to respond to the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ by the acceptance of a frigid deluge of icy water poured over their heads as a sign of their solidarity with the men and women who struggle with ALS each day. Those who accepted the challenge made pledges to ALS research that totaled over two hundred million dollars. The Frates Family and the Quinn family have announced the return of the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ on August 1, 2015 with the slogan ‘every August until a cure.’
The August 1st date for the renewal of the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ coincides with another significant ALS commemoration in the Archdiocese of Boston. It was on August 1, 1995 that the Archdiocese of Boston lost one of its most dynamic young adult leaders to the ravages of ALS. Brian Cody was right at the heart of Young Adult Ministry during a period of pronounced growth during the 1990’s for this ‘bridging of the gap’ between the Church and young adults in their 20’s and 30’s. After participating in an ‘Archdiocesan Listening Session’ for young adults at Saint John the Evangelist Parish in Wellesley in 1989, Brian Cody became one of the original members of the Archdiocesan Young Adult Council which coordinated Annual Archdiocesan Conferences and activities for young adults, while also supporting local Young Adult Groups in more than forty parishes. Brian was primarily committed to the Young Adult Ministry at Saint Ignatius Parish, Chestnut Hill, but was a vital part of other groups in Wellesley, Needham, Belmont, Norwood. He also played a pivotal role as the first editor of the Archdiocesan Young Adult Newsletter, ‘Footprints.’ Brian was the first recipient of the ‘Christifideles Laicis Award’ presented in 1994 to a young adult ‘in recognition of his outstanding commitment to the vocation of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world.’ Brian received this award, later named for him, shortly before news broke of his his heart-breaking diagnosis of ALS. Brian struggled valiantly to maintain his teaching responsibilities at Assabet Valley Regional Technical School and his leadership commitment within Young Adult Ministry throughout his battle with the debilitating effects of ALS. Brian passed peacefully to the Lord on August 1, 1995 before the projected progress of his disease would have necessitated his placement on a respirator to enable him to breathe. Brian’s Funeral Liturgy at Saint Bridget Church, Abington was a testimony to his courage and faith. It was noted at the Funeral Mass that Brian passed away right before his 40th birthday so he never gave up his ‘young adult’ status!
There will be a two-fold commemoration of Brian Cody’s commitment to young adult ministry beginning this weekend. Brian’s family and friends will commemorate the 20th Anniversary of his passing on Sunday, August 2nd at the 9:30 a.m. Mass at Saint Mary Church, Wrentham. Many of the ‘former young adults’ of Brian’s era will be there to remember him with fondness and with thanksgiving for his courageous witness to faith.
During the following week, Saint Mary Parish, Wrentham and Saint Martha Parish, Plainville will initiate a ‘living tribute’ to Brian Cody with a three-part series of ‘Theology on Tap’ sessions for young adults in their 20’s and 30’s at Mr. Dooley’s Olde Irish Country Pub at 303 Shears Street, Wrentham, MA.
The first session on Tuesday, August 4th at 8:00 p.m. will pose the intriguing question: “Why Won’t God Go Away?’ The presenter, Father Richard Clancy has served until recently as Director of Campus Ministry for the Archdiocese of Boston and Catholic Chaplain at M.I.T. Father Clancy will offer his reflections on the challenge to live as a person of faith in a culture that has become increasingly secular in its outlook and distrustful of any truths that cannot be scientifically verified. An opportunity for questions and comments will follow Father Clancy’s presentation. The setting will be informal as the participants can enjoy the food and libations of Mr. Dooley’s Irish Pub during the course of the evening.
The second session will take place on Tuesday, August 11th once again at 8 o’clock again at Mr. Dooley’s. Monsignor Timothy Moran will offer an overview of the recent encyclical of Pope Francis on responsible stewardship for the environment. Issued recently, ‘Laudato Si’ has generated intense discussion around the world on issues pertaining to the environment and social justice. This encyclical will certainly be a major focus of the message that Pope Francis extend on his upcoming visit to the United States and the United Nations. There will be copies of the encyclical available for participants and there will once again be time for questions and discussion following Monsignor Moran’s presentation. Monsignor Timothy Moran serves as pastor of Saint Joseph Parish, Medway. He previously served the Vatican’s Diplomatic Service in Germany and India.
The third session of ‘Theology on Tap’ will take place on Tuesday, August 18th at 8:00 p.m. once again at Mr. Dooley’s in Wrentham. Father Matthew Wescott will be the speaker for this session that will focus on current issues of war and peace inherent in a world increasingly challenged by terrorist threats at home and abroad. Father Matt Wescott is currently pastor of Saint Mary Parish, Foxboro . He served for a number of years as Chaplain at the Catholic Center at Harvard University. He recently returned from military deployment as a chaplain in Afghanistan.
The target group for the ‘Theology on Tap’ sessions will be young adults in the 20’s and 30’s, but I.D.’s will not be checked if some of the ‘former young adults’ of Brian Cody’s generation desire to honor his memory and experience once again some of the excitement of the young adult ministry that was such a driving force in his life and their lives.