Cardinal names senior priest, two pastors and rector

Cardinal Séan P. O’ Malley, OFM Cap. has granted senior priest/retirement status to one priest, named two others as first-time pastors and another as rector.

Father James Degnan

A Lawrence native, Father Degnan studied for the priesthood at St. John’s Seminary and Archbishop Richard Cushing ordained him to the priesthood at Holy Cross Cathedral on Feb. 2, 1955.

Between 1955 and 1971 he served as an assistant in three parishes: St. Jerome, Weymouth (1955-1957); St. James, Wellesley (1957-1963), and returned to the place of his ordination, Holy Cross Cathedral as an assistant there from 1963-1971.

He received a fellowship for study at the University of Pittsburgh and on his return to the archdiocese he was named an assistant to Father John Boles, his classmate, while serving as a part-time assistant at Sacred Hearts Parish, Malden.

He returned again to the Cathedral parish in 1973. He served as principal of the high school (1973-1977) and then as its director of development (1977-1978) while also living at the parish as a technical assistant.

In 1978 he was named associate pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Boston’s Jamaica Plain section, and on Dec. 12, 1980 Cardinal Medeiros named him pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Hopkinton.

Cardinal Law appointed him vicar of the Natick vicariate of the archdiocese in 1988 and in 1994 he had a sabbatical/priestly renewal program at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

Father Degnan’s Hopkinton parish has a day of fame each year as the town of Hopkinton is the starting point for the annual Boston Marathon and his parish’s facilities are part of the great welcoming of runners and watchers.

The parish itself has grown over the years of Father Degnan’s leadership and the annual town-wide welcome is an everyday one at the parish.

Father Degnan’s senior priest status was effective on June 12, 2006.

Father James Laughlin

A Boston native and a son of St. Theresa of Avila Parish in West Roxbury, Father Laughlin is an alumnus of The Boston Latin School and Dartmouth College where he studied Russian.

After graduation from Dartmouth, he entered St. John’s Seminary and Cardinal Law ordained him to the priesthood at Holy Cross Cathedral on June 22, 1991.

Father Laughlin’s first assignment following ordination was as a parochial vicar at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Braintree. In 1996 he was named to a similar position at St. Eulalia Parish in Winchester. After about two years there he was named to the staff of the archdiocesan tribunal, serving there for a year before being sent to pursue further studies in canon law at The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

When he completed his licentiate degree in 2001 he returned to the archdiocese to serve on the staff of the metropolitan tribunal. During his five years of service there, he also lived in residence at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Jamaica Plain.

Service in the archdiocesan tribunal is a challenging ministry. Daily, one faces the sadness of marital break-ups and sometimes discord and rancor. Trying to balance the requirements of justice, the importance of the bond of marriage, and at the same time being sensitive to people who come to you can be overwhelming. In some sense, a priest in a tribunal has the more painful aspects of priestly life telescoped to him each day.

Father Laughlin brings a native sensitivity deepened by his tribunal experience to his new parish. Every parish has its blessings and its challenges and this is no less true at St. Ann Parish in Wayland.

Father Laughlin begins his appointment as pastor of St. Ann’s on July 1, 2006.

Father Kenneth Overbeck

He was born in Illinois and hails from Michigan. He began his studies for the priesthood with the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, but during his years studying theology at St. John’s Seminary he sought to be a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Cardinal Law ordained him on May 17, 1997 at Holy Cross Cathedral. Father Overbeck’s first priestly assignment was as parochial vicar at St. William Parish in Dorchester. In May 2000 he was named parochial vicar at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Chelmsford. He served briefly as a temporary parochial vicar at St. Ann Parish in Boston’s Neponset section and then as parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception, Marlborough.

In June 2002 he was named a parochial vicar at St. Bonaventure Parish in Plymouth’s Manomet section. In December 2005 with the transfer of Father Robert Deehan as pastor of the parish to be the archdiocesan director of clergy personnel, Father Overbeck was named administrator of the parish.

His appointment as pastor of the rapidly growing Plymouth parish was effective on June 5, 2006. Many challenges lie ahead for the young pastor. The parish is outgrowing its facilities and the young families continue to multiply. So, much work needs to be done and Father Overbeck will need the help and collaboration of a willing and young parish.

Father David O’Leary

A Lynn native, Father David O’Leary completed his pre-ordination studies at archdiocesan seminaries and Cardinal Law ordained him to the priesthood on Feb. 22, 1986 at Immaculate Conception Church, Malden.

His first assignment was as parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception Parish in Everett. He also entered the Reserve Chaplains Corps of the United States Air Force. In 1991 he was named parochial vicar at St. Augustine Parish in South Boston and in 1993 at St. Theresa of Lisieux, North Reading.

From 1995 to 1998 he was released from service of the archdiocese to service with the Society of St. Sulpice. On his return to the archdiocese in 1998 he was named Catholic chaplain at Tufts University in Medford with residence at St. Raphael rectory there.

In 2002, Father O’Leary was released from archdiocesan service to serve as full-time university chaplain at Tufts University — he remained in residence at St. Raphael’s during this time.

Effective June 3, Cardinal O’Malley appointed Father O’Leary as rector of St. Anselm Church in Sudbury (see Pilot story, p. 3, June 9, 2006).