Cardinal Seán O'Malley visited the Youth Center of St. Joseph Church on Nov. 9 to see how it has grown since its inception in 2017.

"The Cardinal was the one who had this idea of opening a Youth Center in the area here," said Father Wellington Oliveira, St. Joseph's Parochial Vicar and Youth Center Coordinator, Nov. 13.

He said Cardinal O'Malley's idea was to help children of immigrant families, whose parents might work multiple jobs and "are not present in the lives of their children." At the Youth Center they can learn skills to help them assimilate into American culture and advance in their education, so they can go on to pursue careers.


"The program is, in some way, a presence of the Church," Father Oliveira said, giving children and youth "not only a way for them to improve English or academic development, but also for them to feel that the Church is a place for them."

The parish has its own buses that transport children from Lynn schools to the youth center, which is located in St. Joseph Parish's former convent. There are currently 114 active students in the youth center's fall program, ranging from grade one to grade 10.


Each afternoon, the children receive a free meal and then break up into age groups to participate in workshops. These include classes in music, cooking, educational technology, and, for those who need it, English as a second language. Tutors provide assistance with homework and classrooms are equipped with tablets and SMART Boards. Each age group visits the chapel once a week for prayer and catechesis. On Fridays, the parish priests lead recreational activities, sometimes taking the children on field trips.

Father Oliveira and Father Israel Rodriguez, administrator of St. Joseph Church, led Cardinal O'Malley on a tour of the youth center facilities, none of which existed a year ago, according to Father Oliveira. They showed him the dining room, the kitchen, classrooms, the chapel, and the game room, introducing him to volunteers along the way.

After the tour, the group went to the parish hall, where about 115 children greeted the cardinal with a song in Spanish, praising the Virgin Mary.

"We want to thank you for your presence. It's an honor for us to have you with us and to see the reality of the center," Father Rodriguez told the cardinal.

Groups of children and teenagers came forward to express their gratitude to the cardinal for helping create the Center. They presented him with flowers and a framed poster bearing their signatures.


"I'm so glad to be here tonight and to see how much the center has progressed. It was not long ago that it was just an idea and we hoped that it would be able to come to fruition," Cardinal O'Malley told the assembly.

He said part of the center's mission is to help young people learn to be part of Christ's family and discover the call to be his disciples.

"Discipleship, we learn ... the way you learn a language, by being part of a community that speaks that language. And so we are called to follow Jesus as brothers and sisters and form a community where the way we take care of each other, serve each other, forgive each other, is a sign to the world that the Lord is in our midst and that we are striving to truly be part of this family," he said.

Cardinal O'Malley went on to say that "only the vision of faith" can help people understand their lives and their "mission to take care of each other."

"We're so grateful for the existence of the center. We know that many blessings are going to come out of the efforts here. We are grateful to all of the volunteers and the workers who work along with Father Wellington and Father Israel to make this such a vibrant center. So, we pray for the Lord's blessing upon all of you and your families and we hope that the center will continue to grow by leaps and bounds," he said.

"This is a wonderful start here and we're so grateful to all of you and we want to congratulate you on the progress that has been made and say how hopeful we are for the future," he said.

Youth Center volunteers served dinner for everyone in the parish hall, and later invited Cardinal O'Malley to open a piñata full of candy for the children.


Rev. Wellington de Oliveira

Youth Center Coordinator

Mrs. Yanira Rosa - Youth Center Secretary

Rev. Andrea Filippucci

Parochial Administrator

Mrs. Jannet Urrego Homework Tutoring

Mrs. Laura Reynolds Homework Tutoring

Ms. Melanie Clavel Homework Tutoring

Mr. Leo Vega - Sports Tutoring

Mrs. Claudia Ticas - ESL Tutoring

Mr. Mauricio Cataño - Music Tutoring (Instruments and Voice)

Mrs. Maris Lugo - Spiritual Formation (Prayer and Spiritual Life)

Mr. David Tito Rosa - Spiritual Formation (Prayer and Spiritual Life)

Mrs. Jannet Urrego - Workshop: Educational Technology

Mrs. Claudia Ticas - Workshop: The Beauty of Modesty (Girls)

Mrs. Maria Mercedez - Workshop: Cooking Club

Mrs. Miriam Montserrat Lopez Ruiz - Workshop: Integration

Mrs. Celsa Centeno - Sports Tutoring and Dismissal

Mrs. Rosa Chavez - Sports Tutoring and Dismissal

Mrs. Maria Carrasco - Food Runner and General support

Ms. Ynes Paulino - Cook and Welcoming

Mrs. María Teresa Martínez - Cook

Ms. Maris Lugo - Bus Driver and General Support

Mrs. Daisy Cartagena - General Support

Mrs. Miriam Montserrat Lopez Ruiz - Student Support

Ms. Estephania Ruiz - Student Support

Mrs. Gloria Umana - Food Runner and General support

Mr. Oscar Lopez - Bus Driver

Mrs. Ramona Batista - Welcoming

Mr. Carolina Rivas-Hernandez - Welcoming

Mrs. Karen Miller - Bookkeeper

Ms. Teresa Colon - Volunteer

Mr. Rafael Ortiz - Volunteer

Mrs. Carmen Ortiz - Volunteer

Mrs. Amparo Marin - Volunteer

Mr. Alfredo Cartagena - Volunteer

Mr. Francisco R. López - Volunteer

Mr. David Tito Rosa - Volunteer

Mr. Richie Rowe - Volunteer

Mrs. Magaly Mazariegos - Volunteer

Mrs. Maris Lugo - Volunteer

Jose Luis & Gia Bengoa - Family providing Spiritual Formation

Adolfo & Belinda Diaz - Family providing Spiritual Formation

David & Yanira Rosa - Family providing Spiritual Formation

Rafael & Carmen Ortiz - Family providing Spiritual Formation

Gary & Elizabeth Roche - Family providing Spiritual Formation

We would like to acknowledge the support of:

Lynn Public School Department
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SAINT JOSEPH'S CHAPEL                          

29 Green Street

Lynn, MA


43 Green Street                                                       40 Green Street

Lynn, MA                                                                  Lynn, MA

01902                                                                        01902

115 Union Street

Lynn, MA


© 2017 by St. Joseph's Church, Lynn, MA.