Obituary: Father A. James Bertelli, former Sudbury pastor and Watertown Team Ministry moderator

Father Amelio James Bertelli died at Regina Cleri Residence, Boston, on Jan. 5. Known by priests and parishioners as Jim, his adopted first name was in no way a slight to his Italian ancestry of which he was quite proud.

He was born in Somerville on Aug. 14, 1928, the son of the late Amelio and Stella (Guazzaloca) Bertelli. After his education in local schools in Lexington, to which the family had moved, he served in the United States Army during the Korean conflict and attended Boston College prior to entering St. John Seminary.

Richard Cardinal Cushing ordained him and his fellow classmates on Feb. 2, 1959, and gave him his first assignment as an assistant at St. Colman of Cloyne in Brockton. He remained there for almost a decade when the parish was seeing the height of its life. While Brockton was a city, it had not yet experienced the changes in population that would come not too soon after Father Bertelli's move to nearby Norwood in 1968.

Cardinal Cushing appointed him as an associate at St. Timothy, Norwood, in 1968. This was a growing parish and it is famous for its bucolic lakeside setting. A highlight of the parish's life was in February 1975 when the beloved pastor of the parish and fellow Italo-American, Father Joseph J. Ruocco, was ordained an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese. The historic ceremony saw three other Boston priests ordained bishops the same day: John J. Mulcahy, Thomas V. Daily, and John M. D'Arcy. The ordination for four priests of the same diocese as auxiliary bishops of their own diocese remains unique in the history of the Church in the United States of America.

When Bishop Ruocco went on to be bishop of the Lowell Region in 1975, Father Bertelli left to become moderator of a Team Ministry at Sacred Heart Parish in Watertown. He remained there as parochial vicar after the team completed its ministry there.

He was granted a yearlong sabbatical from June 1981 to October 1983, undertaking graduate studies at Rome's Pontifical North American College.

When he returned, Bishop Thomas V. Daily, then the administrator of the archdiocese, named him administrator of St. Anselm Parish in Sudbury in 1983 and, in January 1985, the recently installed Archbishop Bernard Law appointed him as pastor of the Sudbury parish. His almost 16 years in the Sudbury parish would be the longest of his assignments during his active priestly ministry. He served as vicar in the West Region, Marlborough Vicariate.

Cardinal Bernard Law granted him senior priest/ retirement status on June 19, 2000, just a few months shy of his 72nd birthday.

He was willing and able to assist in parishes, especially those near his retirement residence in Lexington. He was called from retirement to serve briefly as administrator of St. Eulalia Parish, Winchester (2002 to 2003).

In any of the parishes where he was assigned and served, he was well liked by parishioners and fellow priests. He could be direct without being offensive; he was a good listener and could be relied upon for sound advice. One came away from him knowing he was a happy priest.

Fellow Italo-American, Bishop Peter Uglietto, vicar general of the archdiocese, was the principal celebrant of Father Bertelli's funeral Mass at St. Brigid Church, Lexington, on Jan. 11, 2022. Father James Savage, former pastor of St. Eulalia was the homilist; among those concelebrating were respectively the present and former pastors of St. Brigid, Father James G. Burke and Msgr. Paul V. Garrity; Father Albert Stankard, Regina Cleri Boston, a classmate; and former vicar general, Father Richard Erikson, Reading. Cardinal O'Malley had celebrated the vigil service the previous afternoon, also at St. Brigid. Following the funeral Mass, Father Bertelli was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge.

Father Bertelli's immediate survivor is his sister, Mary Ann McKenna of Lexington.