A chalice used at Mass in a Co Cork parish daily for a century may finally reveal its American origins, the Boston Pilot reported Friday.
Father Tom Hayes, the pastor of three churches in Enniskeane, hopes to find historical records of the chalice’s Boston donors in time for the chalice’s centennial next April. Hayes plans to honor the donors liturgically—if he can discover their names.
The only clue is an inscription on the bottom of the chalice: “For use in the Castletown Chapel. Presented by a few former parishioners. Boston, April 1913."
The chalice’s excellent craftsmanship shows the ‘former parishioners’ spared no expense in their gift, according to Hayes.
"At the time, it would not have been an insignificant gift. Whatever people put it together, it was a significant sacrifice for them," Hayes told the Boston Pilot.
The gift was also a departure from local custom—in the area, priests usually obtain a chalice at their ordination, and carry it with them throughout their lives and vocations. Upon a priest’s death, the chalice usually remains in their last church, but St. Joseph’s church of Castletown Kenneigh has accumulated none.
Its only chalice is the one donated in 1913, incidentally the year after the Titanic’s doomed maiden voyage, and within a generation of the Famine.
The text of the inscription suggests the donors were immigrants from Castletown Kenneigh to Boston.
"Clearly by the inscription that they put on it—because it refers to a group of former parishioners in Boston in April 1913—they are very conscious of the fact that they consider themselves as parishioners of this church and of this community,” Hayes told the Boston Pilot.
Hayes searched the official records and correspondence of Boston’s archbishop at the time of the donation, and found no mention of the chalice.
As such, “it is probably not an official donation from the archdiocese,” Hayes told the Boston Pilot. “It is probably just from a group of private individuals.”
Hayes also said that a parishioner had once told him that the Sehily family name had something to do with the donation.
Irish-American donations have historically had a great impact on churches in Ireland, Huges noted.
The Boston Pilot asked that any with information on the chalice contact CPineo@PilotCatholicNews.com.