Obituary: Father Joseph P. McDermott, former Stoughton pastor and longtime prison chaplain

A beloved priest noted for his parish ministry and his prison ministry, Father Joseph P. McDermott died unexpectedly on Jan. 31 at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston.

A Worcester native born May 28, 1935, he was a son of the late Nathan and Mary (Kobis) McDermott. The family moved from Worcester to Hudson and young Joe attended the parish school at St. Michael Parish and then, in 1953, graduated from Hudson High School.

With early desires of a priestly vocation, he attended St. Philip Neri School during the academic year 1953-1954. The school served to prepare men for seminary life, especially by giving them a wider exposure to the classics, essential at that time for seminary education. In 1954, he entered the archdiocesan seminaries, first at Cardinal O'Connell in Jamaica Plain and then across the city to St. John, Brighton, for philosophy and theology.

Boston Auxiliary Bishop Eric F. MacKenzie ordained him to the priesthood at St. Stephen Church, Framingham, on Feb. 2, 1962. The ordination class that year included so many ordinands that there were four separate ordination Masses celebrated across the archdiocese.

Following ordination, Father McDermott's first assignment was as an assistant at St. Michael Parish, Avon. In subsequent years, he would also serve as an associate at St. Catherine Siena, Norwood (1968-1975); St. Isidore, Stow (1976); and St. Joseph, Amesbury (1976).

Later that year, he began a 16-year tenure as a prison chaplain, a ministry that would be a hallmark and passion of his life until his death. He was chaplain for those years at Massachusetts Correction Institute, Norfolk (1976-1992); during those years, he lived in residence first at St. Patrick, Roxbury, and then at St. Timothy, Norwood.

His longest single assignment came in 1992 when he was named pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Stoughton. During the 22 years, he saw a transformation of the parish as it welcomed a growing and active Brazilian community.

He was involved beyond the parish in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement. An avid pilgrimage guide and director, he visited Catholic shrines in Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He was also involved in healing ministry, something which always attributed to the Lord and not to himself.

During his senior priest years, he continued to be of service at the Walpole parishes of Blessed Sacrament and St. Mary.

Father McDermott's funeral Mass was celebrated at Immaculate Conception Church, Stoughton, on Feb. 7, 2023. West Regional Bishop Robert P. Reed was the principal celebrant of the funeral Mass and the homilist was Father McDermott's classmate, Father Francis Cloherty of Regina Cleri, Boston. Father McDermott was buried in the McDermott Family Lot at St. Michael Cemetery, Hudson.

Father McDermott's immediate survivors are his brother Francis, Norwood, and his sister, Mary Daniels, Hudson.