Fathers Conroy and Naughton named senior priests

BRIGHTON -- Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley OFM Cap. has granted senior priest/retirement status to two archdiocesan priests with many years of service in varying capacities to the Archdiocese of Boston.

Father Philip Conroy, a member of the class of 1964, became a senior priest on Sept. 16; while Father Thomas Naughton will do so on Oct. 30. There are a couple of coincidental connections between these two priests.

Father Philip Conroy

A son of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Cambridge, Father Conroy was born in Arlington, the youngest of eight children of the late Martin and Barbara Conroy, both immigrants from Galway, Ireland.

He attended both St. John Grammar School and the parish high school, subsequently named North Cambridge Catholic. There he was formed by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catharine, Ky. who, in addition to being great educators, were also ardent promoters of vocations.

He attended archdiocesan seminaries and on completion of seminary studies, Cardinal Cushing ordained him to the priesthood on Feb. 6, 1964 at Holy Cross Cathedral.

Father Conroy’s first assignment was as an assistant at St. Margaret Parish, Saugus (1964-1967) followed by a similar appointment to St. Gerard Majella Parish in Canton (1967-1975).

His next assignment as an associate was to a very different and rapidly changing parish, the venerable St. Augustine Parish, South Boston. From the relative calm, though surely busy suburban parishes he had served for more than 10 years he was for almost an equal number of years (1975-1984) in the heat of urban life and dramatic change and challenge.

Another ministerial change came in 1984 when he became a chaplain at Walpole State Prison (1984-1988) during which time he lived at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Walpole and then an additional two years at MCI Cedar Junction, returning to St. Augustine to live in residence (1988-1990).

Between 1990 and 1992 he served in another different ministry, this time as a member of the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle, first in Lima, Peru and then at the society’s headquarters at St. Stephen Church in Boston’s North End.

On his return to the archdiocese he served as a parochial vicar, briefly at Our Lady of Lourdes, Jamaica Plain and then from 1992-1994 at St. Mark Parish, Dorchester.

From August 1994 to November 2000, Father Conroy was chaplain at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Brighton, the large and busy flagship hospital of the Caritas Christi Health Care System.

Cardinal Bernard Law named him pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Groveland on Nov. 6, 2000 where he guided the parish well and was especially respected for his generous leadership during the process of the merger of his parish with neighboring Sacred Hearts Parish, Haverhill. When that process was completed, Father Conroy joined the emergency response team and has been serving in various assignments across the archdiocese since then.

His various assignments and his varied service to so many people in different places and situations in the archdiocese are testimony to Father Conroy’s love of priestly life and love of mission, as he told The Pilot and he has faithfully fulfilled “I will go anywhere you want me to serve.”

Father Thomas Naughton

A native of Milton, Father Naughton was ordained on Feb. 2, 1961 at Holy Name Church, West Roxbury by Auxiliary Bishop Jeremiah Minihan. Those were the years when ordination classes were too large to fit in the cathedral so there were multiple ordination Masses on the same day in different churches of the archdiocese.

Father Naughton’s first assignment was as an assistant at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Cambridge. He would have been an assistant at the parish when Father Philip Conroy celebrated his first Mass there in 1964!

Following his Cambridge assignment Father Naughton was an assistant for two years at St. Kevin Parish, Dorchester.

In June 1970, Cardinal Cushing granted Father Naughton permission to serve the United States Army in its Chaplain Corps, continuing a long line of generous response to the needs of the military by the archbishops and priests of Boston.

During more than 20 years in the Army, Father served at home and away; in the United States and abroad.

Father Naughton was granted a master’s degree with specialization in medical moral ethics and had a fluency in Spanish.

On his return to the archdiocese in August 1991 he served for three years as chaplain at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Boston while living in residence at St. Mary of the Assumption Rectory, Brookline.

Cardinal Law named him pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Winchester, on July 1, 1994 and after four years there he became a member of the emergency response team.

Once again a pair of parallels to Father Conroy.

On July 6, 1999 he returned to parish life, this time as pastor of Sts. Martha and Mary Parish in Lakeville. He returned to hospital ministry in 2004 this time as chaplain at Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston during which time he lived at St. James the Greater in Boston.

On March 31, 2006 he was named administrator of both Holy Trinity (German) Parish in the South End and at the historic St. James the Greater Parish in Boston.

With the changes both in demographics in the two parishes, as well as the changes at the archdiocesan office for the Propagation of the Faith, all of which for various reasons and needs came together, Father Naughton was granted senior priest retirement status.