Obituary: Father Vincent E. Daily, missionary, seminary faculty member, and pastor
Father Vincent E. Daily always seemed happy wherever he was assigned and whatever he was doing. Many called him "Senior" to distinguish him from his nephew and namesake, Father Vincent E. Daily "Junior," who was the homilist at his uncle's funeral Mass on Dec. 22, 2021.
He was the last surviving of the four sons of the late John and Mary (Vose) Daily. He grew up in Belmont, where he was born on Oct. 25, 1929, and attended local schools, graduating from Belmont High School in 1947. He completed undergraduate studies and was also granted a master's degree from Boston College. He was briefly a student at St. John Seminary, but was dispatched to Rome, where he completed seminary formation at the Pontifical North American College; and his theology studies at the Jesuits' Pontifical Gregorian University.
He was the first priest ordained by Boston's newly designated Cardinal Richard James Cushing. The ordination was celebrated at the cardinal's Titular Church of Santa Susanna on Dec. 20, 1958. Boston's colorful archbishop had received his "Red Hat" from Pope St. John XXIII at solemn ceremonies a few days earlier, and he actually took possession of his titular church during the Mass for Father Daily's ordination.
He returned to the archdiocese in the summer of 1959 and was appointed an assistant at Immaculate Conception in Marlborough. Serving until 1967 when he "replaced" his older brother, Father Thomas V. Daily, who had returned from his stint in the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle. To this day, priests at Marlborough tell us that people still talk about Father Daily more than half a century after his departure.
The next phase of his life was very much caught up in what became his preferred vocation -- a missionary. After language studies, he served a usual five-year assignment in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. He regaled audiences -- willing or unwilling -- with stories of his missionary adventures in the "upper levels" of the Church as in altitudes! You could tell he loved Bolivia and her people.
Between 1972 and 1976, he was assigned to the faculty of St. John Seminary's theology department. He was a kind of alternate dean of men. He was much interested in developing a wider vision of the Church among the seminarians and encouraged those who took especially challenging "field education" assignments. Although he was tasked with "rule enforcement," the most you got was a "reminder" and a wink.
He returned to the St. James Society for a second tour between 1976 and 1981. During these years, he was travelling the United States, urging, some might say haranguing, bishops to release priests for service in South America via the St. James Society. He cleverly tugged on many bishops' needs by suggesting that if they had any kind of Spanish-speaking presence in a diocese the investment of a priest in South America for even five years would pay back dividends when they returned to their home diocese well equipped to serve the Spanish-speaking parishioners. He humbly admitted, "I was a great recruiter," and he was!
Returning to the archdiocese, he was named pastor at St. John-St. Hugh Parish in Roxbury from 1981 to 1989. While there, he also served as an episcopal vicar in the Central Region. He returned to the Eternal City and his alma mater for renewal program in the spring of 1989.
He returned again to the Society, this time to his beloved Bolivia but to the town of Buena Vista. This final missionary journey would be from1989 to 1995. He was by now 60 years old, usually the time one returned to the United States rather than to a mission outpost.
True to his own recruiting mantra, he returned to the archdiocese in 1995 when Bernard Cardinal Law named him pastor of the Lawrence parish Asuncion de la Virgen Maria. He remained there until the last year of the 20th century. In May of 2000, he was granted senior priest retirement status and lived initially at Youville House in Cambridge.
One of Father Daily's favorite lines was, "I should have been the bishop; I had a couple degrees and studied in Rome. And they picked T," usually in ear shot of his older brother, the late Bishop Thomas V. Daily, who had served as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese; founding bishop of the Palm Beach diocese and as bishop of Brooklyn; he was also the supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus.
From there, he was readily available to assist in parishes. He was especially sought after to celebrate Mass and provide other priestly ministry to parishes with small but growing communities of Spanish-speaking parishioners.
Father Daily eventually moved to Regina Cleri in Boston's West End and, when his health became especially precarious, he was for some time in the care of the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirm at Marian Manor in South Boston. He, however, was able to return to Regina Cleri, where he died on Dec. 18, 2021, just two days shy of his 63rd anniversary of priestly ordination.
Father Daily's funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Joseph Church. Cardinal Seán O'Malley was the principal celebrant with Father Vincent Daily as the homilist. Among those concelebrating were Merrimack Regional Robert Hennessey, a former member of the St. James Society; Bishop Peter Uglietto, vicar general of the archdiocese; and former Auxiliary Bishop John Dooher.
There were a good number of priests concelebrating, including St. James Society "alumni" Fathers Patrick Universal; Albert Stankard; Desmond Tynan; and the Society's present director, Father David Costello. From Regina Cleri: Msgr. William Helmick; and Fathers John and Henry Nichols; and from the faculty of Pope St. John XXIII Seminary, Weston, where Father Vincent Daily is a spiritual director, were the rector, Father Brian Kiely and Father Stephen Linehan.
Following the funeral Mass, Father Daily was buried with his family in Belmont Cemetery, Belmont.