Cardinal grants senior priest status to three archdiocesan priests

Fathers Martin J. Connor, James L. Fahey, and John J. Pashby. Pilot file photo

In a series of actions over the past few weeks, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley has granted senior priest/retirement status to three priests of the archdiocese. With an effective date of March 12, Father John J. Pashby, a longtime member of the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle becomes a senior priest. Joining him as senior priests will be two priests with long years of service to archdiocesan seminaries and parishes: Father Martin Connor, heretofore parochial vicar at St. Mary of the Sacred Heart Parish in Hanover, effective April 1; and Father James L. Fahey, most recently pastor of St. Margaret Parish in Beverly, who became a senior priest on April 15. Father Connor had for many years been spiritual director at St. John’s Seminary Brighton; Father Fahey had been the seminary librarian at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston.

Father Martin J. Connor

A Dorchester native, Father Connor was born in Boston on Aug. 25, 1935. He entered archdiocesan seminaries and following completion of his studies at St. John’s in Brighton he was ordained at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston on Feb. 6, 1964 by Richard Cardinal Cushing.

His first assignment was as an assistant at St. Mary of the Sacred Heart Parish in Hanover. At that time the parish was beginning to show spurts of the growth that would mark its later history and indeed current circumstances.

In June 1970 he was named an assistant at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Woburn. The Woburn parish was much more urban, in a certain sense not unlike Father Connor’s youthful experience of parish life in Dorchester.

Four years later found Father Connor in a new city and undertaking a new priestly ministry. The city was Rome; the new ministry was priest pursuing higher studies, in Father Connor’s case in preparation for eventual service at archdiocesan seminaries as spiritual director.

For the next three years he studied in Rome and lived at the Casa Santa Maria, the home for American priests studying at Roman universities.

On completion of these studies Father Connor returned home to begin a 17 year period of spiritual direction at his Brighton alma mater. During these years several generations of priests came to know him as a kind, thoughtful and valued guide to personal spiritual growth and development. They also saw him as a priestly role model. He seemed always to have a word of encouragement and support not only for his own advisees but also for other members of the student body.

As seminarians became priest he continued to be a source of direction and guidance. He was also called upon to direct retreats and days of recollection for others, both inside and outside the archdiocese.

In December 2004 he asked to return to parish life and returned as parochial vicar to Hanover where he had started out 40 years previously. The parish had indeed taken off, the physical plant expanded and the tremendous growth in population swelled the parish’s roles. As in his previous assignments, Father Connor was at home, and quietly and calmly and kindly serving.

Following these many years of varied priestly service, he asked to be granted senior priest/retirement status and Cardinal O’Malley granted that request making it effective on April 1. For the time being Father Connor will remain at St. Mary of the Sacred Heart in Hanover, now as senior priest in residence and he will assist there as he is able.

Father James L. Fahey

Another Boston native and a son of St. Margaret Parish, Dorchester, Father James Fahey became a senior priest on April 15. He is the a son of the late Leo and Selma (Condon) Fahey and an alumnus of Boston College High School and the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester. Following seminary studies at St. John, Brighton he was ordained at Holy Name Church, West Roxbury by Auxiliary Bishop Jeremiah Minihan on Feb. 2, 1959.

Following ordination he was named as assistant at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish, Acton and then at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Braintree. He was assigned to graduate studies in Library Science at Simmons College, Boston and lived at that time at St. Irene, Carlisle; St. Paul, Wellesley and St. Patrick, Natick.

In June 1967 he was named as librarian at Blessed John XXIII Seminary, Weston a position he would hold for the next 29 years. He thus came to know several generations of priests from not only the archdiocese, but also from around the country and indeed the world, serving as he did as a sure reference resource for men coming to the national seminary from many dioceses and not a few religious communities.

In 1996 he returned to parish work as a parochial vicar at St. Patrick, Natick and the following year, Cardinal Law named him pastor of St. Margaret Parish in Beverly.

During the past dozen years he has guided the parish with a calm and steady arm and with a quiet and relaxed demeanor. He looked forward to going to Beverly and the folks at Beverly Farms took him into their lives.

Father John J. Pashby

Father John Pashby, known to Boston priests as “Jerry”, is an Everett native and as with Fathers Connor and Fahey an alumnus of archdiocesan seminaries. Following his seminary studies he was ordained at The Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Feb. 2, 1960 by Richard Cardinal Cushing.

His first assignment as an assistant at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Charlestown was just across the Mystic River from his birthplace in Everett and not far from what was his home city, Revere. His first assignment within the archdiocese was also to be his last.

In 1963 he joined the fledgling Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle, then recently founded by Cardinal Cushing. Father Pashby volunteered to go and having gone south, he never came back!

His service, as that of most St. James Society members in South America, began at the language school in Peru. Spanish was obviously key but also an introduction to some of the indigenous languages of the countries where the society had parishes: Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.

During his 46 years of priestly ministry, Father Pashby has served in several assignments of the Society and has become friend and mentor to many of the priests, many from Boston and many from other dioceses whose priests have kept Cardinal Cushing and subsequent archbishops of Boston “missionary dream alive.

Not surprisingly, Father Pashby has already returned to South America and as he has for the past 46 years placed himself once again, even in retirement, at the service of the St. James Society.

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