Labor priest remembered at guild banquet

BOSTON -- Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley joined more than 1,000 members of the state’s labor and management community as the Labor Guild held its 41st annual Cushing-Gavin Awards dinner Nov. 30, but this year without the iconic presence of its chaplain of 27 years, Father Edward F. Boyle, SJ, who passed away Nov. 13.

“I was privileged to spend time with Father Boyle before he died,” the cardinal said in his remarks. “He spoke of you (the Labor Guild) so often, you truly were his family.”

The labor priest was a credit to his order, he said. “He truly embodied the Jesuit ideal of a life led for others.”

“Father Boyle was one of the most committed labor priests I have known,” said Sister Mary M. Priniski, OP, who recently left her position as a field worker for the Service Employees International. “He always made time for you.”

Sister Mary said Father Boyle was a prominent figure in the national movement to bring religious institutions and labor unions together. She first met Father Boyle 25 years ago at a national conference, while she was working to build support for Southern textile workers.

The cardinal offered the program’s invocation and presented the four awards for excellence in the fields of labor, management, labor law and other auxiliary professionals.

Father Boyle’s brother, Jack Boyle Jr., accepted the Auxiliary Award given to the late chaplain, which has been renamed the Boyle Award.

“I will simply say: Thank you. It has been great for our family and a life for brother Ed,” he said.

“His life was truly the hyphen in the term ‘labor-management,’ our own beloved and self-effacing labor priest,” said Martin Callaghan, the guild’s president who emceed the evening’s program held in the Grand Ballroom of Back Bay’s Boston Sheraton Hotel.

Callaghan said as Father Boyle’s health weakened, he visited the priest to tell him he was receiving the award that would be named for him.

“For the first time, he was speechless and was moved to tears.” From his bed, Father Boyle dictated a message of thanks to be read for him if he did not live long enough to attend, he said.

A member of the dinner committee, Paul McCarthy, delivered the statement, which he began by reading the chaplain’s stage direction for him: “First, smile and take several deep breaths.”

In his statement, the priest thanked all those who had helped build up the guild into the institution it had become. But, he also made a plea for its future and the new hardships facing workers as the economy changes: “Let me call out loud, Help! Help!”

McCarthy, continuing to read from the script, invited the audience to join him in cheering the work of the guild and its community: “Hip-hip Hooray! Hip-hip Hooray!”

The Labor Award was given to Michael Monahan, the president of Local 103 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The Labor Law Award was given to Phillip G. Boyle (no relation to Father Boyle), a partner at Morgan, Brown & Joy, who has represented public sector clients. The Management Award was given to Diane Crimmins, the human resources director for the town of Belmont and the town’s chief labor negotiator.

In addition to naming of an award in his honor, Callaghan announced the creation of the Boyle Fund to fund college internships at the guild. Organizers set a goal of raising $300,000 and as of that night, they had already raised $90,000, he said.

Callaghan said Father Boyle was pleased when he told him about the founding of the fund dedicated to support interns who will continue his work. “It was great to see his eyes light up and a smile come to his face.”