Obituary: Father J. Walter Stocklosa, archdiocese’s longest ordained

Boston longest ordained priest and the last member of the class of 1940, Father J. Walter Stocklosa died peacefully at D’Youville Senior Care Center, Lowell on Feb. 1; he was 92.

Father Stocklosa, a son of the late Joseph and Mary (Lach) Stocklosa was born in Lowell on Nov. 3, 1915. Always an outstanding student he graduated from Lowell High School where he was class president and valedictorian. He attended St. Mary College, Orchard Lake, Mich. and St. John University, Jamaica, N.Y.

He entered St. John’s Seminary and on completion of his seminary preparation auxiliary Bishop Richard Cushing ordained him to the priesthood on May 3, 1940. His first assignment was as an assistant at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Boston’s Jamaica Plain section; three months later he was assigned as assistant at St. Michael, Lynn a Polish national parish where his own Polish heritage contributed to his effective ministry there. At the same time he was also assigned to the faculty of St. Sebastian Country Day School, then located in Newton.

In 1946 he served briefly as an assistant at Scared Heart, Cambridge, the following year he was named an assistant at St. Adalbert Parish, Hyde Park.; the following year he was named assistant at Our Lady of Grace parish which serves sections of both Chelsea and Everett. In 1955 he was named an assistant at St. Hedwig, Cambridge and in 1960 assistant at St. John the Baptist, Salem, both Polish national parishes.

His first assignment as pastor was to St. John the Evangelist in Townsend, serving there from 1968 to 1970. In February 1970, Cardinal Cushing named him pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Nahant, which was the longest single assignment of his priestly ministry serving the island parish until Cardinal Bernard Law granted him senior priest/retirement status on Jan. 22, 1991.

Following retirement he assisted regularly at his home parish, Holy Trinity, Lowell until about five years ago, when his advancing years and declining health made that impossible.

Father Stocklosa was always proud of his almost exclusive service to parishes of the archdiocese, noting that his priestly ministry was “bookended” at two parishes named for the “Angelic Doctor” -- St. Thomas Aquinas. He especially enjoyed a story about Blessed John XXIII’s receiving a group of priests who were involved in various ministries; university professor, seminary faculty, chancery staffs. After receiving each who kissed the pope’s ring, a final priest arrived explaining to the pope that he was “only a parish priest.” According to the story the pope knelt and kissed this priest’s hand saying “Yours is the greatest priestly work of all.”

Merrimack Regional Bishop Emilio Allué, SDB was the principal celebrant of Father Stockosa’s Feb. 5 funeral Mass at Holy Trinity Church, Lowell. The homilist was the parish’s present pastor, Msgr. Stanley Kempa and among the concelebrants were Msgr. John Abucewicz, Father Louis Bilicky and Father Joseph Lukas.

Following his funeral Mass Father Stocklosa was buried in Holy Trinity Cemetery, Lowell. His survivors include his sister, Josephine, Chelmsford and a brother Stanley, Lowell and a niece Elizabeth Parker of Loomis, Calif.