Obituary: Father Simeon Saulenas, former Cambridge pastor

Father Simeon W. Saulenas, the 12th oldest on the seniority list of archdiocesan priests and the third to the last member of the archdiocesan ordination class of 1944 died on Nov. 9 at St. Joseph Manor, Brockton.

Father Saulenas was born in Abington, a son of St. Bridget Parish there, on Patriots’ Day, April 19, 1919; he was one of the eight children of the late John and Victoria Saulenas.

Raised in a staunchly Catholic and proudly Lithuanian family, Father Simeon studied for the priesthood at St. John Seminary, Brighton. The newly installed Archbishop Richard Cushing ordained him to the priesthood at Holy Name Church, West Roxbury on Aug. 10, 1944.

Father Saulenas’ priestly ministry in the archdiocese was almost completely in the service to fellow Lithuanians in their personal parishes. The 18-month exception was his assignment as an assistant at St. Joseph, Pepperrel between late 1954 and early 1956.

His other assignments, all as an assistant, were at the following Lithuanian parishes: St. Peter, Boston (1944-1947); St. Casmir, Brockton (1947-1954); Immaculate Conception, Cambridge (1956-1962); St. Francis of Assisi, Lawrence (1962-1964) and St. George, Haverhill (1964-1966).

On July 12, 1966 he returned to Immaculate Conception, Cambridge as pastor. He would serve there until April 28, 2006, a tenure of just two months shy of 40 years. Combined with his previous service at the Cambridge parish, Father Simeon’s 48 years there is surely one for the record books and accounts for more than three-quarters of his lengthy and dedicated priestly service of 62 years.

One of the joys of his life was to see so many of his fellow Lithuanians become part of the fabric of American life as they moved from the cities where they initially settled and then to the suburbs. Even as they moved from parishes like Immaculate Conception, Cambridge, many still saw the place of baptism, marriage or burial of a loved one as a special place and a sure point of ethnic and religious pride.

Father Kevin O’Leary, the rector of the metropolitan cathedral, and once the vicar of the area encompassing Father Saulenas’ parish recalled “He was a terrific priest. It was clear to me the people loved him; even as age took its inevitable toll they really wanted him there.

Regretfully that toll was such that Father Saulenas required extensive care available only in a nursing facility. Thus, on his retirement in 2006 he moved to St. Joseph Manor, Brockton.

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley was the principal celebrant of Father Saulenas’ funeral on Nov. 14 at St. Bridget Parish, Abington. Msgr. Albert Contons was the homilist. Joining the cardinal concelebrating the funeral Mass were South Regional Bishop John Dooher; a number of Boston’s senior priests including Father Edward McLaughlin, St. Thomas Aquinas, Bridgewater; Father Thomas Buckley, another native son of St. Bridget Parish; Father Albert Janiunas, and Father Michael Regan, Regina Cleri Residence, Boston. Additional concelebrants included Father James L. McCune, Office of Senior Priests; Father John Hannon, St. Joseph the Worker, Hanson; and Father Stephen Zukas, St. Peter, South Boston.

Father Saulenas’ survivor is his brother John of Boston and a host of nieces and nephews. His classmate, Father Charles T. Duggan and Msgr. John Abucewicz, are the surviving members of the class of 1944. Following his funeral Mass, Father Saulenas was buried in St. Patrick Cemetery, Rockland.