byFather Robert M. O’Grady
As announced in The Pilot last week, Cardinal Séan O’Malley has appointed Father John J. Connolly as the new pastor of St. Brendan Parish in Boston’s Dorchester section.
A Boston native and an extremely proud son of the Hub he was raised in Blessed Sacrament Parish in the city’s Jamaica Plain section and is a graduate of Boston Latin School, Dartmouth College, and St. John’s Seminary.
His first assignment following his ordination by Cardinal Law on June 1, 1994 was as parochial vicar at St. Mark Parish, Dorchester. Just three years later the cardinal assigned him to serve as his priest secretary, a position he held until the cardinal’s resignation in December 2002. There was brief “interruption” in that assignment (July 1999-February 2001) when Father Connolly was pursuing advanced studies and then served as a member of the archdiocesan emergency response team.
He continued to assist Bishop Richard Lennon, the apostolic administrator of the archdiocese (2002-2003), as secretary and as Special Assistant. The position of Special Assistant would continue under Cardinal O’Malley even as Father Connolly wore other hats.
In May 2005 the archbishop appointed him as Rector of the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Holy Cross and added an additional responsibility naming him administrator of Holy Trinity (German) Parish in Boston’s South End on Sept. 1, 2007. On June 30, 2008 both of those assignments ended and Father Connolly resumed the Special Assistant’s office on a full time basis, keeping his residence “safely in Boston’s boundaries” -- first at St. Brigid in South Boston and more recently at St. Ann in Dorchester’s Neponset section.
His tenure as administrator at Holy Trinity coincided with the parish’s closure; he garnered high marks from those affected by the admittedly painful process for his capable and calm guidance and priestly patience.
Among Father Connolly’s close priest friends was the late Msgr. William Francis. An almost iconic figure in this local church and in the city of Boston, Msgr. Francis was a chaplain of the Boston Police Department; Father Connolly succeeded his late friend in a position he shares with Father Sean Connor of St. Ann Parish, Neponset.
“Bostonian” seems almost to have been coined with Father Connolly in mind. He knows and loves the city, its various sections and especially its people. His parish experience in two very different parts of the city -- Dorchester and the South End gives him a good snapshot of the city as a whole. And the mutual affection that exists between him and the city’s Police Department signals his capacity to work with the civic community in the neighborhoods, so often intertwined and even sometimes indistinguishable from the parish in that neighborhood.
Father Connolly’s appointment at St. Brendan’s was effective on June 1, 2009. His assignment as Special Assistant to the archbishop remains in effect as does his chaplaincy with Father Connor of the Boston Police Department.
Father Connolly told The Pilot that he “is grateful to Cardinal Séan for having looked favorably on his request to be named pastor at St. Brendan’s.” He added “this is an exciting time for the Church in the archdiocese and for the Church in the city of Boston, and especially for the parish family at St. Brendan’s. I am looking forward to be part of these exciting times and especially to being with the family of St. Brendan’s parish.”