Cardinal grants senior priest status to three pastors

Fathers Arnold Colletti, Richard Messina, and Thomas Powers have been granted senior priest status. Pilot file photos

Three priests of the archdiocese who have been pastors in their respective parishes for more than two decades apiece have been granted senior priest/retirement status by Cardinal O'Malley. The effective date of each of the retirements was June 2, 2015.

Father Arnold Colletti

Born in Quincy on Oct. 9, 1934 and raised in neighboring Braintree, Father Colletti attended St. Philip Neri, Boston before entering St. John's Seminary. Auxiliary Bishop Jeremiah Minihan ordained him to the priesthood at St. Catherine of Siena Church, Norwood on Feb. 2, 1962.

His first priestly assignment following ordination was to St. Theresa of Lisieux Parish in Billerica; the town beginning to experience growth with younger families from Boston suburbs and nearby Lowell moving into the area. Six years later, he was assigned as an assistant at Our Lady of Fatima in Sudbury, another town and parish experiencing substantial growth.

In 1972 he was assigned to a unique and specialized ministry in historic Lexington -- director of religious education of the two parish town. He lived in residence at St. Brigid Rectory, but was responsible for the religious education programs both there and at Sacred Heart Parish. For an amazing 42 years, save nine, he would be associated with one or the other or again both of the Lexington parishes. The nine year "interruption" was when he was pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish in Malden (1985-1994). While at Malden he directed major upgrades to the parish plant; a notable one was the creation of a splendid chapel (ably assisted by the talents of one of his parochial vicars, Father Robert Reed) and a parish hall complete with facilities for parish functions.

His years at Lexington consisted of the three year stint as town wide director of religious education (1972-1975); associate, St. Brigid (1975-1985); pastor, Sacred Heart (1994-2015) and pastor of St. Brigid (2005-2015). Father Colletti's calm demeanor and his through knowledge of both Lexington parishes made his many years of service in two very different parishes highly appreciated by parishioners in both parishes and applauded by brother priests.

Father Richard Messina

Born in Boston on July 16, 1939 and raised in Somerville, Father Messina entered the archdiocesan seminaries after graduating from St. Clement High in Somerville. Richard Cardinal Cushing ordained him to the priesthood at Holy Cross Cathedral on Feb. 10, 1965.

His first assignment following ordination was as an assistant at St. John Vianney Parish in Revere's Point of Pines section. The parish, now closed, was perched at the end of Revere Beach. Three years later, he was named an assistant in a parish completely different from Revere -- nowhere near a beach; probably ten times as many families; an enormous and splendid church, parish school, convent and several other priest in the rectory -- Blessed Sacrament, Jamaica Plain.

Four years later in October 1972 he was appointed chaplain at Bishop Fenwick High School in Peabody with residence at nearby St. John the Baptist Parish. He would for the next decade be teaching at the school and a familiar face at school events; he was a sought after counselor for alumni, faculty, staff and parents, as well as students. Years after graduation his students were calling him to celebrate weddings and baptize children. During these years, he was also a weekend assistant at St. Clement Parish in Somerville. He relishes telling stories of a much admired priest of the archdiocese, the parish's pastor, the late Msgr. Peter Hart.

He returned to parish life and to familiar territory as a member and moderator of the team ministry at Immaculate Conception Parish, Revere. A milestone of the team ministry was the construction of a much needed and new church, the process spread over several years culminated in the dedication of the new church in 1990.

For about one year late 1992 to late 1993, Father Messina was back on the North Shore as a parochial vicar at St. Ann Parish in Gloucester. In August 1993, Cardinal Bernard Law named him pastor of St. Mary Parish in Winchester. For the next two decades he has shepherded the town's first parish from its central Winchester location, maintaining the parish and its elementary school.

Father Thomas Powers

A son of St. Patrick Parish, Watertown; Father Thomas F. Powers was born in Cambridge on Aug. 29, 1940. He attended the parish schools and Boston College before entering St. John's Seminary as a member of the Class of 1966.

Cardinal Richard Cushing ordained him to the priesthood at Holy Cross Cathedral on May 26, 1966. His first assignment was as an assistant at Sacred Heart Parish in Natick. In 1967 he was named an assistant at St. Jerome Parish in Arlington; and in 1972 as an associate at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Cambridge. All three parishes have since been closed.

In September 1973 he was named as campus minister in the then Fenway Center for Campus Ministry, serving several colleges in that area of the city of Boston. During this two year assignment he lived in residence at St. Patrick Parish in Roxbury. In 1975 he moved to Cambridge living in residence at St. Paul Parish, while there he was chaplain at Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Center (1975-1978) and then director of campus ministry for the archdiocese (1978-1987).

From 1987 to 1993 he served a term as pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Lowell, one of the oldest and now one of the most diverse parishes in the archdiocese. In 1993, Bernard Cardinal Law named him pastor at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Wellesley. During his more than two decades long pastorate, he directed a major expansion and renovation of the parish church, readily visible from Washington Street just over the town line from Newton's Lower Falls. Between 2002 and 2008, he served terms as vicar forane in the West Region: Natick Vicariate (2002-2005) and Vicariate II (2005-2008).

Thanks to these three "retiring" priests, who though retired from full time active ministry, will like so many of our great senior priests be available to assist in parishes and in institutions in priestly service.

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