Obituary: Father Donald P. Clifford, former Marshfield pastor
A son of St. Columbkille Parish in Boston's Brighton section, Father Donald P. Clifford died Nov. 25, 2022. He had been living on the South Shore since his retirement as pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, Marshfield, in 2008.
Born in Boston on April 21, 1935, and raised in Brighton, he was one of the five children of the late James and Julia (Daly) Clifford, both immigrants from Ireland. His brother Timothy survives him.
Father Clifford's entire priestly life was served in archdiocesan parishes. Following his Feb. 2, 1961, ordination at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross by Richard Cardinal Cushing, he was appointed an assistant at St. Joseph Parish, Amesbury. The parish was large and was supported from its foundation by Irish immigrants and their descendants. Boston's first Auxiliary Bishop John Brady was its pastor before being moved to South Boston. He is buried in the Amesbury parish's cemetery. Father Clifford served there until 1968 when he was assigned as an assistant at St. Theresa of Lisieux, North Reading. The next year, he edged closer to Brighton when he was named as an associate at Sacred Heart Parish in Newton. The parish was much like his home parish with parish elementary and high school as well as all the organizations familiar at the time. He had as one of his fellow curates, Father Donald G. Clifford, later pastor at St. John the Evangelist, Canton.
In 1979, he was a member and moderator of a team ministry at St. Monica, South Boston, serving subsequently as administrator and parochial vicar of the parish until 1984 when he was named administrator and then pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Hyde Park.
Bernard Cardinal Law named him pastor at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Marshfield's Green Harbor section, where he served until his retirement in 2008. During his years in retirement, he assisted at various South Shore parishes.
The two Fathers Donald Clifford provided an embarrassment for this writer but a source of self-deprecating humor for Father Donald P. Clifford. At the time of the death of the "other" Father Clifford in 2007, the Fathers Clifford photos got mixed up and Donald P.'s photo ran with Donald G.'s obituary. When the error was noted, not by him but by one of his classmates, I called and apologized. With great humor, he said "I was worried that the family might take the article to try to cash in the insurance policies." Thereafter, when I would see him or talk to him he laughed off the error.
Father Clifford was a long time member of an exclusive club of priests -- ROMEO. The priests in the Marshfield, Plymouth, and Duxbury area had a custom of meeting at restaurants in the area on a regular basis. Anyone was welcome, mostly it was the retired guys who were the core of the diners. ROMEO = Real Old Men Eating Out.
Father Clifford's funeral Mass was celebrated at Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Marshfield, on Dec. 1, 2022. Following the funeral Mass, Father Clifford was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Brighton.