BEDFORD -- For the second Sunday in a row, parishioners made it to the mass they had been waiting for.
Churchgoers at St. Pat's, St. Barbara's, and St Mary's rejoiced as they celebrated the first liturgy since being forced to shut its doors by the Diocese.
Over at St. Mary's in Bedford, it meant a fresh start. Not just for parishioners, but for Father Dan Begin, who marked today as his beginning at a new church with a new parish.
Father Dan stood outside the church doors before mass, greeting each parishioner with a smile and a hug. He comes to St. Mary's after serving as pastor of St. Cecilia's, a church that was closed and will not reopen.
Even still, he had his own connection with St. Mary's. "When I found out it was going to close... I'd sit here and say a prayer, never guessing I was going to go here," Father Dan.
Some call his selection to lead the parish, divine intervention. "Today is the culmination of a miracle as far as I'm concerned," said Carol Szczepanik, a parishioner of 56 years.
Whether parishioners from St. Cecelia's will join Father Dan at St. Mary's is unknown. The church was packed for an 11 a.m. service. In that crowd there were plenty of new faces.
The idea of a St. Mary's coming back stronger and even more faithful gave parishioners a new reason to cry. "I look at the faces of the former parishioners and the new people who've decided to join this congregation and my eyes well up with tears," Szczepanik.