Obituary: Dorchester pastor dies at 58

Father James Fratus, the pastor of St. Brendan Parish in Boston’s Dorchester section died on April 8. He was 58 years old.

A Cambridge native and the only son among the four children of James and Alice (Aylward) Fratus he was born on June 8, 1950. After education in Catholic schools and his graduation from St. Mary of the Annunciation High School, Cambridge, he entered Cardinal O’Connell Seminary in Jamaica Plain. He left the seminary and continued his formal education, returning later to Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston where he completed his theological studies in preparation for ordination.

Humberto Cardinal Medeiros ordained him to the priesthood at Holy Cross Cathedral on June 20, 1981. His first priestly assignment was to St. Martha, Plainville where he served as an assistant until 1986. During this time he was also Juvenile Court Chaplain at Norfolk County District Court in Wrentham.

Finishing his parish assignment, he served full time in prison ministry at Massachusetts Correctional Institute in Concord during which time he was in residence at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in nearby Acton.

Father Fratus returned to parish ministry as moderator of a Team Ministry assigned to St. Rose of Lima, Chelsea from 1992 to 1998. In 1996 he was named as the administrator of Our Lady of the Assumption, a French personal parish that had been staffed by the Marist Fathers. On Aug. 1, 1999 that parish was suppressed and Father Fratus remained as pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish from February 1998 until March 2001. He earned high marks for his careful guidance of the process of closing one parish and bring its parishioners into the St. Rose family.

On March 12, 2001 Cardinal Bernard Law named him pastor of St. Brendan Parish where he has served since. Among his accomplishments were the improvement of the physical plant, notably the completion of a multi year project of pointing of the church on Gallivan Boulevard as well as his energetic support of the parish school.

He had been in failing health over the past several months, yet seemed always upbeat and positive.

Central Regional Bishop Robert F. Hennessey was scheduled to celebrate the funeral Mass for Father Fratus at St. Brendan Church on April 14. Among those indicating that they would be concelebrating were priest classmates and contemporaries from the archdiocese and archdiocesan vicar general, Father Richard Erikson; archdiocesan secretary for parish life and leadership, Father Thomas Foley; area vicar Father Robert Casey, pastor of Gate of Heaven and of St. Brigid Parishes in South Boston; Father Robert Carr, St. Benedict, Somerville; and Father Donald Delay, St. Mary, Walpole. The homilist was Father Richard DeVeer, St. Francis Xavier, Weymouth

Following the funeral Mass Father Fratus was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Malden. In addition to his parents Father Fratus’s survivors are his sisters: Ellen Norris, Stoneham; Carol Hodgkins, Somerville; and Pamela Szymkowski, Lynn.