Obituary: Father Mario J. Orrigo, pastor of St. Patrick, Stoneham, dies at 60

The youngest of the five children of Ella (Loiodice) Orrigo and the late Mario, of Arlington, Father Mario J. Orrigo, the beloved pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Stoneham, died on Aug. 29, 2023, at Sawtelle Family Hospice, Reading.

He was born on June 13, 1963, at Arlington and raised in the town; the family were members of St. James the Apostle Parish. He attended the parish grammar school and developed warm relationships with his teachers, the Religious of Christian Education. He was an alumnus of Matignon High School, Cambridge, and of Northeastern University.

Following his undergraduate education, he entered the military services of the United States of America, serving in naval intelligence services.

He entered St. John Seminary, Brighton, and completed his theological studies there, and was ordained a deacon on June 29, 1996, and to the priesthood on Dec. 8, 1996, with Bernard Cardinal Law ordaining him both a deacon and a priest at St. Paul Church, Dorchester, on the respective dates.

He remained for the next six months at St. Paul Parish, and in 1997, was appointed parochial vicar at St. Michael Parish, Lowell. He was energetic and hardworking and developed a wonderful working relationship with Father Albert Capone during Father Capone's tenure at Lowell.

During his 12 years there, his obvious ease with people and his diligence in parish ministry blossomed.

In June 2009, he was named parochial vicar at St. Patrick, Stoneham. His experience at Lowell continued at another of the archdiocese's larger parishes, a major difference being that Stoneham serves the entire town of Stoneham, while St. Michael was one of many parishes in Lowell. In many ways, you serve the whole town in these cases, not just your parishioners.

In 2012, Father Orrigo was "promoted" to administrator of the parish. He would keep that title for the next nine years. During that time, above all, he dedicated his considerable energy to presence and care of the large flock entrusted to him.

He was especially dedicated to the parish school and worked tirelessly to keep it going and to expand the enrollment. He searched for the best faculty and staff and brought them on board.

A necessary renovation of the church had been completed prior to his being named administrator and one of his tasks was to retire the debt that the renovation had incurred. He did this by careful stewardship of parish resources and building the support from parishioners. The debt was retired in short order.

He had to sustain support and so set out to expand parish ministries, those both at immediate parish service and to the wider Stoneham community and beyond.

Just over two years ago, he was named pastor of the parish, even though he had been virtually the pastor during his years as administrator.

At the time of his death, which came at the end of a long struggle with cancer, he was saluted by parishioners from wherever he had served, not surprisingly overwhelmingly so from Stoneham.

The condolences pages on the Barile Funeral Service website were inundated with hundreds of comments. From simple thank yous, to longer explanations of Father Mario's (as he preferred to be called) involvement with families at baptisms, confirmations, first communions, during family illnesses, and deaths. Many appreciated his homilies and care for the beauty of the parish church. Most obvious was the appreciation of their omnipresent and ever-ready-to-serve pastor.

Father Orrigo's Lying in Repose and funeral were both celebrated at St. Patrick Church, Stoneham.

On Sept. 1, 2023, the Reception of the Body and the Vigil Service were celebrated with Auxiliary Bishop Mark O'Connell as the celebrant. That service was for the family and staff of the parish and priest friends.

The Lying in Repose began at 2:00 p.m. and continued until 8:00 p.m. According to the Funeral Home staff, some 3,000 people waited to meet his family, express their condolences and thanks for his life and ministry.

The funeral Mass was celebrated on Sept. 2, 2023. Father Albert Capone was both the principal celebrant and homilist of the Mass. He was joined by more than 50 other priests as concelebrants. Among those were Father Brian McHugh, North Regional Vicar; Msgr. Kevin J. O'Leary, rector of the metropolitan Cathedral of the Holy Cross; Msgr. John McLaughlin, team ministry moderator, Nahant and Swampscott; Msgr. William Cuddy, senior priest, who has been generously assisting at Stoneham for the past months; Fathers Darin Colarusso, Methuen; Walter Carreiro, Wilmington; Thomas Boudreau and Stephen Donohue, both from Norwood parishes; Albert Farretra, Bellingham; Stephen Linehan, Pope St. John XXIII Seminary, Weston; Paul Hurley, Nahant and Swampscott; Paul Flammia, Essex and Manchester by the Sea; Martin J. Hyatt, BSO, St. Basil Center, Methuen; Frank Campo, senior priest, Franklin, former parochial vicar at Stoneham; Robert Kickham, secretary of His Eminence, the Cardinal; David Barnes and Sijo Jacob, CMI, administrator and parochial vicar, respectively, of the Stoneham parish.

Almost all of the 1,000 seats which the church has were filled. To accommodate others, the funeral Mass was live streamed to a full St. Michael Church, Lowell; it was also seen by hundreds of others on local cable channels in Dracut, Lowell, and Stoneham. Gary Meuse, executive director of Dracut Access Television, said "the outpouring of requests to make the funeral Mass available was attributed to Father Mario.

Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley and Bishop Mark O'Connell were seated in the sanctuary in choir and His Eminence celebrated the Rite of Final Commendation as well expressing the thanks of the archdiocese for his tireless priestly ministry to Father Orrigo's family.

Father Orrigio's immediate survivors are his mother, Ella, Arlington; his brother Joseph, Medford; and sisters, Donna Arone, Arlington; Melina Ryan, Wakefield; and Saleen Giamatteo, Woburn. He also is survived by nieces and nephews. And as evidenced by their overwhelming presence, all those he served in his short life and just a bit over a quarter century of priestly ministry.

Father Orrigo was buried with his father in the Orrigo family lot at Wildwood Cemetery, Winchester.