Obituary: Father Francis Chase, senior priest at 78

Father Francis G. Chase Pilot photo

"Isn't he the one who was friendly with Bobby Orr?" "Yes! But he was also one of the priestly models for Msgr. Peter Conley." The response to both was in reference to Father Francis G. Chase, a senior priest of the archdiocese since Dec. 31, 2006 who died in Falmouth on June 2.

Born on Dec. 25, 1931 in Damariscotta, Maine he was raised in Medford one of the five children of the late William and Agnes (Connolly) Chase. Completing his seminary studies at St. John, Brighton he was ordained by Archbishop Richard Cushing at Holy Cross Cathedral on Feb. 2, 1957. His first assignment, which lasted exactly one year, was as an assistant at St. Anthony of Padua, Woburn.

In 1958 he began what would be a nine year assignment as an assistant at St. Anne Parish in Boston's Readville section. It was there that he met a young seminarian, Peter V. Conley native son of the parish, and the two became friends and remained so throughout the years. In 1967 he was named assistant at Sacred Heart Parish, Watertown. The winds of change following the Second Vatican Council began to gust throughout the Church. In 1975 Father Chase went on a leave of absence; he returned the next year as Associate at Immaculate Conception, Marlborough. Just a year later he went on another leave of absence and in 1978 at his own request he was laicized.

He had obtained a law degree and began the practice of law in a Boston firm. His relationship and contacts with priest, and parishioners, continued. As Msgr. Conley once said "He never really left. He always kept contact with us and kept up on theology." On Dec. 23, 2002, just two days shy of his 71st birthday, he was readmitted to the ranks of the priests of the archdiocese and named as parochial vicar at Holy Family Parish, Duxbury. For the next four years he served at the parish and was as well liked and appreciated in his later years as he had been in his early ones.

Msgr. Peter Conley was both the principal celebrant and homilist of Father Chase's Funeral Mass at Holy Family Church, Duxbury on June 5. South Regional Bishop John Dooher presided at the Mass and celebrated the final commendation.

Even 20 years after Father Chase's departure from the parish, people would ask about him; he would come to the wakes of family and friends. An MBTA bus driver once asked "Do you know Father Chase? He was a great priest. He helped my family especially one of my sons. Tell him I said hello, if you see him."

Father Chase's survivors are his brothers William, Medford and Charles, Hingham, and his sisters, Sister Rosemarie, ASCN, Nazareth, Ky. and Geraldine, Weymouth. Following his funeral Mass Father Chase was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Medford.

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