Bishop Boles retires from central region

BRIGHTON -- On Oct. 12 Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Bishop John P. Boles which he had earlier offered to the Holy Father. With that announcement Bishop Boles ended his more than 14 years as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley has announced that effective Dec. 29 Bishop Boles will become a “senior bishop” and will enjoy a well-deserved respite from his administrative responsibilities as regional bishop of the central region of the archdiocese.

Education has been one of the premier interests and concerns of Bishop Boles since his ordination to the priesthood in 1995. Bishop Boles has been a faithful and good pastor to many in the education community of the archdiocese. Over the years the responsibilities have varied from classroom to administration. Lately his time directly involved with education has been mixed in with his many responsibilities as auxiliary bishop. All who know him readily confess his wide interests and genuine concern for the educational ministry of the Church.

John Patrick Boles was born in Boston, a son of the now closed Our Lady of Presentation Parish in the city’s Brighton section. He is an alumnus of St. Sebastian School and archdiocesan seminaries. Archbishop Richard Cushing ordained him to the priesthood on Feb. 2, 1955 at Holy Cross Cathedral and he was assigned as an assistant at St. Edward the Confessor Parish in Medfield.

In 1957 he received the first in a series of appointments that would solidify his involvement, interest and concern for Catholic education. He was appointed to the faculty of his alma mater, St. Sebastian School, and lived, initially in residence at St. Mary of the Assumption rectory in Brookline. In 1962 he moved into the residence of St. Sebastian’s and remained a faculty member. In 1966 he was named headmaster of his alma mater, a school which Cardinal William H. O’Connell had founded for young Catholic men.

Father Boles continued his own education obtaining advanced degrees in education, and counseling and guidance from Boston College.

His service to Catholic education was “raised a notch” when he was named director of education for the archdiocese in 1972 and he moved his residence to Blessed John XXIII Seminary in Weston.

During his years of education leadership he saw many changes, a notable one was the closing of a number of schools due to the refocusing of the missions and the declining numbers of women religious staffing the schools in the early ’70s. At the same time the educational mission expanded with developing parish religious education programs and widening responsibilities for campus ministers on college and university campuses. In 1974 Father Boles took a new challenge when he was appointed pastor of St. Paul Parish, Cambridge which included also the responsibility for the campus ministry at the Harvard-Radcliff Catholic Student Center.

During his busy years in the parish he was called upon to assist the archdiocese as a member of the Clergy Personnel Board (1987-1992) and as vicar of vicariate IV of the central region in those same years.

He slowly but surely became a cornerstone of St. Paul’s and the campus ministry’s life. Father Boles served as pastor of the parish and campus ministry from 1974 to May of 1992 when he was ordained auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese.

He succeeded his one time teacher, Bishop Lawrence Riley, as central regional bishop and moved his residence to St. Gregory rectory, Dorchester and established the regional bishop’s office first at St. Peter Parish, Dorchester and then to its present location at St. Brigid Parish, South Boston.

While he served as bishop of the central region and had a special responsibility for the parishes there, he was also a familiar face across the archdiocese as he celebrated the sacraments, especially confirmation, and attended celebrations in the lives of priests and people with whom he has been friendly over the years.

As he begins his well-earned and long-awaited “retirement,” he will still be available to assist Cardinal O’Malley in various aspects of archdiocesan life.

In an interesting “back to where he started” -- almost -- Bishop Boles will be moving from Dorchester to Brookline, returning to residence at St. Mary of the Assumption rectory.