Obituary: Joan Carney, former Pilot and Communications Office staff member
For half a century, Joan Carney worked in archdiocesan offices; she knew the archdiocese and the priests, those with whom she worked and many others, including your scribe. Joan died at Lahey Hospital, Burlington, on April 20, 2022. She was 89 years old.
Her own parents died when she was quite young, so she was raised with her Lynch cousins. After graduation from high school, she started that half century of service as "junior" secretary for the Archdiocesan Union of Holy Name Societies, with an office at St. James Parish in Boston's Chinatown. The first one score and five years saw her assisting the archdiocesan directors: Msgr. Francis McElroy, later pastor at Our Lady of Mercy, Belmont; Msgr. Robert T. Kickham, later pastor at St. Bartholomew, Needham, and uncle of Father Robert T. Kickham, secretary and master of ceremonies for Cardinal O'Malley; and Father James Lanergan, one time of St. Rose of Lima Parish, Rochester.
In 1975, she entered a whole new and different phase of service when she was named secretary to several editors or assistants of The Pilot: Msgr. Joseph Grant, Father Francis Rimkus, and Father A. Paul White, all now deceased. She was made an administrative assistant to Father White (1982-1986); and then administrative assistant to directors of communications: Mr. John Walsh and Msgr. Peter V. Conley (1986-1990). She returned to The Pilot as the executive assistant to then-editor Leila Harrington Little. She was reunited with Msgr. Conley in 1992 while he was editor of The Pilot and she was general manager (1992-1994) and then news editor (1994-1998). She retired, briefly, in 1998, but returned part time before she retired full time at the turn of the millennium when The Pilot offices moved from downtown Boston to a space at the Creagh Library.
Joan had an amazing grasp of the life of the archdiocese and, as I used to joke with her, "in spite of us priests, she still loved the Church and priests." She knew our parishes, she knew women and men religious and she had been well schooled in grammar. Msgr. Peter Conley and I would get our articles returned with blue pen corrections, "suggestions," and additions. Joan's editorial eye inevitably made anyone's writing much better.
Her communications experience covered some interesting highlights of archdiocesan history. The papal visit in 1979; the Installation and Red Hat for Cardinal Bernard Law in 1984 and 1985, respectively, were among the events she covered and which gave rise to much storytelling of the behind-the-scenes coverage.
She was also friends with the wider Catholic Communications Personnel in the Fall River Diocese; she was always happy to visit her friend, the late Rosemary Dussault, who was Joan's twin for Msgr. John Moore at The Anchor -- the Fall River diocesan newspaper. The present director of communicators there, John Kearns, was also on Joan's "short list."
Joan was also much involved in the lives of her extended and large families -- the Charbonniers and the Lynchs. Although in later years she lived in Medford and Stoneham, she never forgot she was a proud daughter of Charlestown -- a Townie. She was proud of her nieces and nephews and cousins, too many to name.
Following her "real" retirement, Joan lived in Peabody at Brooksby Village but later moved closer to home in Stoneham. She kept up a busy schedule and remained in contact regularly with family and friends even until the last hours of her life.
In 1998, in recognition of her many years of service as a valuable collaborator in archdiocesan life, at the request of Cardinal Bernard Law, Pope St. John Paul II gave her the "Pro ecclesia et pontifice" (for the Church and the Pontiff) award.
Always attentive to details and wanting to make sure things were done to her liking, she left instructions about her funeral Mass. The first item -- "NO SPEECHES and I mean no eulogies or words of remembrance or whatever you call them." She picked the music and asked family members to be involved.
Joan's funeral Mass was celebrated at Immaculate Conception Church, Malden, on April 28, 2022. Joan was to be buried with her parents in Oak Grove Cemetery, Medford.