Obituary: Father Philip McConville, former pastor in Marshfield

Father Philip G. McConville, the pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in the Green Harbor section of Marshfield from 1970 -1992 died in Hyannis on Nov. 13; he was 92.

He was born in Portland, Maine on May 5, 1917, the only son of the late John and Louise (Hansen) McConville. Surviving are his sisters Sister Alice McConville, RC, Ronkonkoma, N.Y. and Frances of Staten Island, N.Y. His other sister, Marie McCormack predeceased him.

An alumnus of Boston College, Class of 1939 and of St. John’s Seminary, 1943, Father McConville served in archdiocesan parishes as well as chaplain in the military, specifically the U.S. Army. Bishop Richard Cushing ordained him to the priesthood at Holy Cross Cathedral on Oct. 28, 1943. His was the “second class of ’43” -- a group that had an accelerated seminary formation because of World War II. The “speeded up” program was to accommodate the urgent need for chaplains of the branches of the military services engaged in a two front war effort: European and Pacific as they are usually tagged.

His first two assignments following ordination were as an assistant at St. Agnes, Reading (1943-1945) and Immaculate Conception, Malden (1945-1948). In early 1949 he was named assistant at Gate of Heaven, South Boston; by May of that year he was serving as chaplain in the U.S. Army, first in the Reserves and then activated for full time service until his return to the archdiocese and his appointment as assistant at Sacred Heart, East Boston in March 1954. Later that year he was named to a similar post at St. Francis de Sales, Roxbury and in 1955 at St. Anthony of Padua, in Boston’s Allston section.

Following his return from a leave of absence, in June 1956 he was named assistant at St. Patrick Parish, Lowell which would be his single longest assignment served until his being named pastor in Marshfield some years later. Between 1964 and 1970 he served as an assistant at three more archdiocesan parishes: St. Patrick, Cambridge; St. Joseph, in Boston’s Hyde Park section; and St. Clement, Somerville.

Cardinal Richard Cushing named him pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Haverhill on May 1, 1970 and then on Aug. 4, just a month before his retirement as archbishop, he named him pastor at Our Lady of the Assumption. For the next 22 years he served the parish, which was growing in population with the demographic shifts moving larger numbers of Catholics from the Boston and South Shore communities further south to the towns of the so-called “Irish Riviera.”

Among the accomplishments of Father McConville’s tenure at Assumption, his overseeing and managing the construction of a new and much needed larger church for the parish. It culminated with dedication of the new church by Cardinal Humberto Medeiros.

Father McConville enjoyed, or rather relished and even cultivated his reputation as a kind of no-nonsense pastor. On first review the stance seems to some perhaps harsh, while others might approve; indeed both reactions, in varying measures, could be found in the Marshfield parish. What would not be debated is that he was a man of conviction and of faith. And with his dogged determination, he was able to bring to completion the important task of creating a new worship space for Our Lady of the Assumption parish.

Father McConville’s Funeral Mass was appropriately celebrated at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Marshfield on Nov. 17 with one of his successors, Father Donald Clifford as the homilist. Among the concelebrants were Father James McCune, Office for Senior Priests; Father John “Jerry” Shea, senior priest; Father Mark Ballard, current pastor at Our Lady of the Assumption; and Father Austin Nagle, SSCC.

Father McConville was buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Dennis.