The annual Mary Ann Brett Food Pantry St. Patrick’s Day breakfast brought some of Boston’s and the commonwealth’s top political talent to Dorchester’s Blessed Mother Teresa Parish Saturday.
The main event of the morning was the induction of St. Mark’s Parish native Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) into the Dorchester Hall of Fame.
“It feels like coming home. It feels like being home,” Murray said after receiving the award. “I always say I’m a Dorchester girl, always,” she said.
Murray thanked the neighborhood and the organizers for the honor without the aid of prepared remarks. “A staff person actually wrote my notes for me today and I read them this morning,” Murray said while addressing the crowd. “I can’t use any of this because they obviously were not from Dorchester. I’ll talk to them about that tomorrow,” Murray said with a laugh.
Murray, 65, grew up in St. Mark’s Parish and often remarks that her roots are in Dorchester. The future Senate President grew up in a single-family home on Shepton Street and graduated from St. Mark’s Grammar School and Cardinal Cushing High School for Girls before obtaining a certificate in management from UMass Boston. She was elected to the Senate from the Plymouth and Barnstable District in 1992 and elected by her colleagues to become the first female President of that chamber in 2007.
Murray told the Reporter in an interview last week it was expected in her family to get your working papers when you were 14 and that she was happy to. After helping out at the South End hardware store her father worked in, Murray began cleaning hospital rooms and bed pans at Carney Hospital, where her mother was a bookkeeper.
Over 30 years ago, Murray’s father and sister were held up in robberies and her parents decided to move to Weymouth. Murray followed them to the South Shore a year later when she married and moved to Plymouth.
“It wasn’t the same place,” Murray said of her old neighborhood in an interview after her induction. “But you know what, it’s changed again.... look at this great community,” she said.
Also inducted into the Hall of Fame Saturday were Jim and Jean Hunt. The Hunts were honored for their decades of dedication to the neighborhood, not only through their chosen professions in the medical field, but also for their years of tireless advocacy. Jim Hunt is currently the President and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Professional Health Centers and Jean works the front lines of medicine as a nurse.
Dorchester Boys and Girls Club President Bob Scannell also received a place in the Hall. Scannell was honored for his work building the club up over his 20-year career.
“Kids in Dorchester don’t just dream, they achieve their dreams,” Scannell said.
After plates of traditional Irish breakfast and music, former State Representative James Brett emceed the event which serves as a fundraiser for the pantry located in the church’s basement.
Brett surprised some in the audience by unveiling a surprise entrant in the Hall, the parish’s own pastor, Rev. Jack Ahern.
Brett called the priest an “MVP and All-Star” since coming to the parish four years ago and said Ahern “truly helps us understand our relationship with God. You help us find God and you inspire us.”
Two of the candidates running to join Murray in the Senate, Reps. Nick Collins (D-South Boston) and Linda Dorcena Forry (D-Lower Mills) attended the breakfast. Both are running for the Senate seat vacated by former Sen. Jack Hart when he resigned to take a job in the private sector earlier this year. Dozens of supporters of Collins’s bid for the Democratic nomination stood out at the intersection outside the church.
Another elected official in the crowd was Hyde Park City Councilor Rob Consalvo, subject of recent speculation in the press that he is Mayor Thomas Menino’s pick to succeed him. The Boston Herald reported that Menino might help Consalvo be elected president of the Council before resigning, leaving Consalvo as acting mayor. Menino himself served as acting mayor in 1993 when another breakfast attendee, former Mayor Raymond Flynn, left City Hall to become Ambassador to the Vatican.
WBZ talk show host Dan Rea, whom Brett called a “voice of reason,” officiated at the morning’s auction, offering up t-shirts and other items to the highest bidder to raise money for the food pantry.