Obituary: Father Patrick F. Healy, OMI, pastor, military and hospital chaplain

Google the name "Father Patrick F. Healy" and the first entry will probably be about another Father Patrick F. Healy, he of the Society of Jesus, who had two brothers who were priests of our archdiocese: Father James A. Healy, later the second bishop of Portland; and Father Alexander Sherwood Healy, who was pastor of St. James the Greater and rector of the old Cathedral of the Holy Cross and died at 39 in 1875, just after the completion of the present cathedral and is buried in St. Augustine Chapel Cemetery, South Boston. Those three Healy brothers were the first black Americans ordained to the priesthood, all three alumni of the College of the Holy Cross. Keep searching and you'll come to this Father Patrick F. Healy, OMI, probably an article about his 100th birthday June 1, 2021.

This Father Healy was born in Boston, June 1, 1921, a son of the late Patrick and Catherine (Walsh) Healy. He was the ninth and the last surviving of their 10 children. Raised in St. Mary Parish, he attended the parish grammar school before graduating from Boston English High School. He entered the Oblates of Mary Immaculate at their College in Buffalo and the novitiate, then at Tewksbury, in 1940. Fellow Oblate and retired bishop of Hudson Bay, Edmonton, Canada, the Most Rev. Arsene Turquetil ordained him to the priesthood on June 2, 1947, in Washington, D.C.

His first assignment was at the faculty of the Oblate minor seminary, his alma mater, followed four years later by an assignment to the faculty of the newly opened Bishop Fallon High School, also in Buffalo. He moved downstate in New York to the Oblate seminary in Newburgh for four years before volunteering for the Oblate mission in Japan, where he spent 13 years, serving as rector of the seminary and treasurer of the mission.

In late 1965, while on a vacation from the missions, Father Healy was on an Eastern Airline plane going from Boston to New York. The plane was involved in a midair collision with another plane near New York City. Miraculously, but after a long recuperation, he survived the crash, which happened at 12,000 feet!

Undaunted and perhaps staring death in the face, he volunteered for service as a chaplain in the United States Army. For the next 25 years, he served in postings in Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Germany -- each required more than a few hours in the air!

When he "retired" from the Army in 1980 at the age of 59, he was appointed pastor of St. Timothy Parish in Miami, where he oversaw the construction of a new parish church. The parish was then only 20 years old and today is a thriving parish with a school serving a predominantly Spanish-speaking community.

He then served as superior of the Oblate Residence and Infirmary in Tewksbury and, in 1987, returned for 12 years between 1987 and 1999 as a reserve chaplain serving the Army again in Germany and then at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was then chaplain at the Soldiers' Home in Washington, D.C., for two years before returning to the Boston area, living at the Oblate Residence in Tewksbury while preaching novenas and parish missions and, until a few days before his death, as chaplain of the Soldiers' Home in Chelsea, where he was the usual celebrant of daily and Sunday Mass at the Home's St. Michael Chapel.

Last June, his three families: Healy, Oblate, and Soldiers' Home celebrated his birthday with great festivity. He was delighted. A close friend of his, Jack Quinlan, summed up nicely what a priest should be and what Father Healy clearly was to many: "When you're with him you feel close to God." Father Healy said he'd be ready when called home to the House of the Father and would tell the Lord "I'd do it all again."

Father Healy died at the Cambridge Hospital, Cambridge, on Jan. 12, 2022. Fittingly, there will be two Funeral Masses for Father Healy. On Monday, Jan. 15, at St. Michael Chapel, Soldiers Home, Chelsea; and on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at Mary Immaculate Chapel, Oblate Residence, Tewksbury. Father Healy was buried in the Oblate Cemetery, Tewksbury.