Obituary: Father James Lane, longtime Boston police chaplain dies

Father James H. Lane, a South Boston native who never left the city of Boston save for a few years of military service following his 1952 graduation from South Boston High School, died at Marian Manor in South Boston not far from his birthplace. A Bostonian through and through, he spent about one-half of his life in South Boston and the other in Dorchester.

There were seven siblings in the family of the late Herbert and Catherine (King) Lane; James, one of the three sons, was born on Sept. 22, 1934. The parish was a focal point in his family’s life. At his retirement from parish ministry in 2001, Father Lane noted that Father Gerard Barry, now a senior priest of the archdiocese in residence at Regina Cleri, was a commanding influence on his vocational choice.

Following preparation at the archdiocesan seminaries, Father Lane was ordained to the priesthood at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Norwood by Auxiliary Bishop Jeremiah F. Minihan on Feb. 2, 1962.

The first of his assignments to the city of Boston was as an assistant at St. Paul Parish, Dorchester. In 1969 he was named an assistant at St. Brendan Parish, Dorchester and in 1982 he was named pastor of the Hub’s most southeasterly parish. He returned home to St. Augustine Parish in South Boston as parochial vicar in December 1996 and Cardinal Bernard Law granted him senior priest retirement status in March 2001. He lived in his own residence in South Boston until recently when he entered Marian Manor.

His service at St. Brendan’s was during a time of great social change, a demographic shift and genuine urban turmoil. Yet, his own quiet demeanor, steady hand and calm disposition served to lead the parish through the changes from within and without. At the time of his retirement from St. Brendan’s he was feted and praised lavishly for his almost three decades of service to the parish.

In 1972 Father Lane was appointed chaplain of the Boston Police Department. This was in addition to his ongoing responsibility in the parish. It was in this duty that Father Lane gained a well-deserved reputation of commitment and compassion, attending not only to his charges in the blue uniform, but also to those with whom he would come in contact through them. He was also chaplain at various times to the Roxbury Juvenile Court, the Boston Juvenile Court, and to the Boston Police Emerald Society -- which is the police department’s bagpipe and drum corps.

Cardinal Seán P. O Malley, OFM Cap. was the principal celebrant of Father Lane’s funeral at St. Brendan Church Aug. 1; the church was packed with parishioners and police officers, family and friends. Among the concelebrants of the Mass were Central Regional Bishop Robert Hennessey and retired auxiliary Bishop John Boles; St. Brendan’s present pastor, Father James Fratus; the vicar general of the archdiocese, Father Richard Erikson; and the homilist of the Mass, Father C. Paul Rouse a senior priest of the archdiocese and himself a native of South Boston.

Father Lane is survived by his siblings: Helen Kehoe, Waltham; Marilyn Putney, Dedham; Rosemary, Fla.; and Karen, Newton; and Timothy, Utah; and Kevin, Saugus. Following the funeral Mass, Father Lane was buried in New Calvary Cemetery, Boston.