The Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End held a special noontime Mass for prayer and remembrance of President John F. Kennedy Friday.
"Restored by these sacred mysteries, we humbly beseech you, oh Lord, that your servant John Fitzgerald Kennedy may be cleansed of all offenses and admired for all eternity," the priest said during the Mass.
“I just think it’s an important day to remember," said Carl Iovanni, who lives in the South End. "I was in the third grade when Kennedy died. I remember the nuns told us and then we went home.”
Iovanni's whole day has been devoted to Kennedy’s memory.
“Just kind of thinking about what it was like that day, and the days afterwards," he said. "Watching the TV and trying to understand what was going on.”
Iovanni says he’s still glued to the TV — today, at least. After Mass, many people shared stories of where they were when Kennedy was shot on November 22, 1963.
“Ah, my life has been shaped in many ways by President Kennedy," said Toby Kaminkow, another South End resident who is Jewish, but came to the Catholic service to pay her respects. "I was in college at the time, and because of that I became a political minor. I went to work for Sen. Ted Kennedy in his first election campaign.”
“People will say that he never lived long enough to have a record, but he did so much in terms of inspiring people," Kaminkow said. "He and his wife — she was a trooper in terms of her strength. I could go on. The space exploration, the Peace Corps.”
Walking past Kaminkow was a group of eigth-grade students from the Cathedral School next door. They filed slowly from the church back into their classrooms. History teacher James Hauser said he’d given a lesson about Kennedy earlier.
“We spoke of how people who were 12 years old then are 62 years old today, and just how present it must feel for all of them," Hauser said. "We spoke of the similarities to Sept. 11th for many of us and just as Father O’Leary said, the moment, it’s just so present.”
And eighth grader Anell Guzman looked pensive.
“If he was still alive, it would have been very different because he would have probably won his second term and it would have changed America and it would have had a big influence on future presidents," Guzman said. "It was just sad.”
Both Guzman and fellow classmate Nate Duncan said they wondered how Kennedy influenced President Barack Obama.
“I was thinking, 'How could someone do such a thing to a great president?'" Duncan said. "And if he was still alive, this country would be running much smoother than it is now. Also, he was a great man, and what he did for our country really helped us."
Their mood was matched by the weather outside the school and cathedral, where rain continued to fall most of the afternoon.