Happy Birthday Bishop Maguire

Bishop Joseph F. Maguire Pilot file photo/Bachrach

Today, Sept 4, 2009 is the 90th birthday of Bishop Joseph F. Maguire, the now retired fifth bishop of the diocese of Springfield. Although he has asked for this event to be “low key,” The Pilot could not let it go by without a mention and without a congratulatory salute on behalf of the entire archdiocese.

Bishop Maguire was born in Boston’s Roxbury section, the only son of the late Joseph and Grace (Wenger) Maguire. He has one sister, Grace Waystack, who lives on Cape Cod. The family moved to Brighton and young Joseph attended the grammar and high school at his home parish, St. Columbkille. He traveled up Lake Street to Boston College from which he was graduated in the Class of 1941.

His college career was marked by academic and athletic excellence. He was a great student and a star on the Eagles’ baseball and hockey teams. The latter team was coached by the legendary John ‘Snooks’ Kelley who once touted that “lots of college coaches coached players who went on to the pros, starred in the NHL ... I’m the only one who ever coached a bishop!” He remains one of the best known, highly respected and greatly loved alumni of Boston College and was given an honorary doctorate at the BC Commencement in 1976.

Archbishop Cushing ordained him to the priesthood at Holy Cross Cathedral on June 29, 1945 following his seminary studies at St. John’s, Brighton. He was assigned as an assistant at four parishes between 1945 and 1962: St. Joseph, Lynn, St. Anne, in Boston’s Readville section, Blessed Sacrament, in the Hub’s Jamaica Plain section, and St. Mary of the Hills, Milton.

In 1962 Cardinal Cushing named him his priest secretary, a position he held for the remainder of the cardinal’s life; he then served in a similar position for Archbishop Humberto Medeiros. On May 4, 1971 he was named pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Quincy. The assignment was short lived as Pope Paul VI named him titular bishop of Mactaris in Mauretania and auxiliary of the archdiocese on Dec. 1, 1971. On the following Feb. 2 together with bishop-elect Lawrence J. Riley he was ordained bishop at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross by Archbishop Medeiros, assisted by Boston’s other auxiliary bishops Jeremiah Minihan and Thomas Riley.

For the next four years he served as regional bishop of the South Region, following the creation of the pastoral regions model in the archdiocese by Archbishop Medeiros.

Pope Paul VI named him coadjutor bishop with the right of succession to the Diocese of Springfield. Following the resignation on having reached the age limit of the fourth bishop Christopher J. Weldon, Bishop Maguire became the fifth bishop of the western Massachusetts diocese on Oct. 15, 1977.

During the next 14 years he would bring the same zeal which made him loved in parishes to his diocese; the same skill and style he had on the diamond and the ice; the same priestly example which he had from June 29, 1945 to his service in Springfield.

Although he has reached a great milestone in years, and so many of his friends and family, classmates and teammates have died, he still has an amazingly positive outlook on life and the Church, born, one can hear, of his deep and abiding faith in God and his daily celebration of Mass in his little chapel at his residence in Springfield.

Happy Birthday to an outstanding bishop, a great priest, a valued classmate and teammate, a happy and faith filled man, and a beloved friend!

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