Archdiocese’s longest serving pastor retires

BOSTON — A priest of the archdiocese for almost 62 years and a pastor for 40 years — less three months, Father Simeon Saulenas retired from Immaculate Conception (Lithuanian) Parish in Cambridge on April 28. Father Saulenas is now a senior priest of the archdiocese.

Father Saulenas was born just over the Brockton line in Abington on April 19, 1919. He attended St. John Seminary and was ordained at Holy Name Church on Aug. 10, 1944. He was ordained just a month before Auxiliary Bishop Richard Cushing, then serving as administrator of the archdiocese, was named Boston’s sixth bishop and third archbishop in September of that same year.

For all but a year-and-a-half of his almost 62 years of active priestly ministry, Father Saulenas served in Lithuanian personal parishes of the archdiocese.

As a newly ordained priest he was assigned “pro tem” as an assistant at St Peter (Lithuanian) Parish in South Boston. That “temporary” assignment lasted almost three years before he returned to Brockton as an assistant at St. Rocco (Lithianian) Parish — now St. Casimir — where he served for more than seven years.

He moved northwest for a relatively brief assignment at St. Joseph, Pepperell. This would be for less than two years and also would be the only parish that was not designated for Lithuanians in which he would serve during his many years of active priestly ministry.

He was named an assistant at Immaculate Conception (Lithuanian) Parish in Cambridge in February 1956 and remained there until early 1962. These would not be the final days he spent in Cambridge.

Between January 1962 and July 1966 when he would return to Cambridge he was an assistant at two other archdiocesan Lithuanian parishes: St. Francis, Lawrence and St. George, Haverhill.

On July 12, 1966 the same bishop who gave him his first priestly assignment, now Richard Cardinal Cushing named him pastor of Immaculate Conception (Lithuanian) Parish in Cambridge.

During more than 60 years of active priestly ministry Father Saulenas has seen many changes.

In the seminary, Cardinal O’Connell was his archbishop and he has served under Cardinals Cushing, Medeiros, Law and O’Malley. He has seen all but two or three of the archdiocese’s 31 auxiliary bishops and has been among hundreds of priests and women religious and many permanent deacons.

As with most priests his real impact has been the Masses he has celebrated, the homilies preached, the consolation offered at funerals, the joys of baptisms and marriages, and the hours in catechetical formation — formal and informal.

Father Saulenas also saw the change in the Lithuanian population of the archdiocese. The great influx of immigrants into the large urban areas of the archdiocese has dispersed further into the suburbs. The once crowded Lithuanian personal parishes are now more sparsely attended as the children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren of those immigrants have moved into the great mosaic of American life.

The inevitable toll that age takes on all of us has not passed by Father Saulenas. His health has been diminished as would not be surprising for a man of 87 years. As he enters retirement he takes with him the admiration and prayers of the people he has so faithfully served. Father Saulenas will live in retirement at St. Joseph Manor, Brockton.