Father Stephen Rock named new pastor in Reading

BRIGHTON -- Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley OFM Cap. has announced the appointment of Father Stephen Rock as pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Reading. He succeeds Father Arthur Flynn whose retirement had previously been announced.

Father Rock is a Lawrence native and is one of seven children of the late Lawrence and Alice (Brennan) Rock. He grew up in neighboring North Andover and attended the parish grammar school and North Andover High School. He completed seminary studies at St. John’s Seminary, Brighton and Cardinal Humberto Medeiros ordained him to the priesthood on May 18, 1974.

Between ordination in 1974 and 1986, he served as an associate pastor in three archdiocesan parishes: St. Bridget, Framingham; Star of the Sea, Quincy; and St. Mary of the Assumption, Hull.

In 1986 he entered the service of the U.S. Navy serving in its chaplain corps for the next 20 years.

In those years he has renewed his “awe of the ocean” as he once observed about being a lifeguard in Salisbury during his high school summers. Among his Navy postings were Camp Lejeune, N.C., Washington, D.C.; The U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, Conn., overseas at Sicily and Okinawa and aboard the USS Long Beach and USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Father Rock’s extensive service in the United States Navy had brought him into contact with many people, but obviously the greater number of them have been young service personnel. The shortage of priests serving as chaplains is such that many in the military services do not see a priest for months and maybe years on end.

Father Rock has many experiences on which to draw as he begins service as pastor at St. Agnes. In a Pilot interview some years ago, he stated that celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the more profound moments of his priestly life. “The transformation that comes from people being open to God’s forgiving grace is truly awesome, and something beyond mere words,” he said.

Father Rock’s appointment to the Reading parish is effective June 1.