Obituary: Archbishop George H. Pearce, Marist missionary bishop

Archbishop George H. Pearce, SM Courtesy photo

The Most Rev. George Hamilton Pearce, SM, Archbishop emeritus of Suva, Fiji, died in North Smithfield, R.I., on Aug. 30, 2015, in his 95th year of life.

He was born in Boston on Jan. 9, 1921, one of six children of the late George and Marie Louise (Duval) Pearce. He received his primary education at St. Columbkille School, Brighton (future Bishop Joseph Maguire was a student, though two years older than Pearce at the same school); he entered the Marist minor seminary, Maryvale, in Bedford in 1934. He joined the Marists (the Society of Mary) in 1940 at the age of 19 and pronounced his vows on Sept. 1, 1941.

After completing his studies at Marist College and major seminary in Framingham, he was ordained a priest by Archbishop Richard J. Cushing in Our Lady of Victories Church in Boston on Feb. 3, 1947.

Father Pearce engaged in educational and pastoral work from 1947 to early 1956, first as a faculty member of the Marist minor seminary from 1947 to 1948 and at St. Mary High School in Van Buren, Maine, from 1948 to 1949. He was assigned to Samoa in 1949.

On Feb. 29, 1956, Pope Pius XII named him Titular Bishop of Attalea in Pamphylia and Apostolic Vicar of the Archipelago of the Navigators. The title of the vicariate was changed to Samoa and Tokelau Islands on Jan. 4, 1957. Father Pearce returned to Boston for his episcopal ordination which took place on June 29, 1956 in the Church of St. Columbkille. A youthful 35 years old, he was ordained a bishop by Archbishop Cushing, who was assisted by Boston Auxiliary Bishops Eric F. MacKenzie and Jeremiah F. Minihan.

The Apostolic Vicariate of Samoa and Tokelau Islands was raised to diocesan rank as the Diocese of Apia on June 21, 1966 by Blessed Pope Paul VI. One year later, on June 22, 1967, Bishop Pearce was named Metropolitan Archbishop of Suva, Fiji. He also served as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Agana, Guam, from Dec. 1968 until mid-1969. He remained Archbishop of Suva until Apr. 10, 1976, when his resignation was accepted by the Holy Father.

Returning to the United States, he served as a member of the Marist Core Group of Bethany House of Intercessions from 1977 to 1983. He became a personal assistant to Bishop Louis Gelineau of Providence in 1983 and remained in that position until 1997. Throughout most of his time in Providence, he assisted the successive bishops with confirmations and various other episcopal functions.

Archbishop Pearce held the distinction of being one of the last living bishops from the pontificate of Pope Pius XII. With his death, there are only six living bishops from Pope Pius XII's pontificate. Archbishop Pearce was the last living US-born bishop from that pontificate.

He attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council (1963-1965). He also had the distinction of being one of the last living council fathers. With his death, there are only 43 surviving council fathers across the globe, of whom three are from the United States: Most Rev. Raymond G. Hunthausen, Archbishop emeritus of Seattle, Wash.; Wisconsin-born Bishop John C. McNabb, OSA, emeritus of Chulucanas, Peru; and Lawrence-born Bishop William J. McNaughton, MM, emeritus of Inchon, South Korea, who lives in retirement in Methuen.

The archbishop was one of 19 bishops who received episcopal ordination from Richard Cardinal Cushing. Seven were Boston auxiliary bishops, one was the bishop of a suffragan diocese, ten were bishops ordained for mission territories, and one was ordained for the Armenian Catholic patriarchate. With his death, only two of those bishops are alive: Most Rev. Daniel A. Cronin, Archbishop emeritus of Hartford, and Bishop William J. McNaughton, MM.

At the time of his death, Archbishop Pearce had passed more than 74 years in religious life; 68 years as a priest; and 59 years as a bishop. He lived a life of outstanding dedication to Christ and His Church.

Among his survivors are his brother Paul, Gladwyne, Penn.; as well as several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his sisters Ruth Bruen, Marie Higgins, and Dorothy Bruen, and his brother John Pearce.

The Pontifical Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Sept. 4 in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Providence, R.I.

He will be buried in Sacred Heart Cemetery, Andover.

Charles N. Bransom is an occasional writer for The Pilot. A resident of Brandon, Fla. He is author of several books on bishops of the USA and bishops of various religious orders.

Cardinal beatifies 22-year-old Romanian as 'martyr to chastity'

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- A 22-year-old Romanian peasant has taken a step closer to sainthood as a "martyr to chastity," six decades after she was murdered ...

Maryland attorney general will review church records on child sex abuse

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- In a Sept. 24 letter to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop William E. Lori informed priests and deacons that the ...

People helping people is what attracted actor to 'God Friended Me'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Television audiences may recall seeing actor Joe Morton as Eli Rowan Pope, the father of professional Washington fixer Olivia Pope, ...

Pa. bishops support creating fund to compensate survivors of sex abuse

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- The bishops of Pennsylvania's eight Roman Catholic dioceses are supporting creation of an independent fund to compensate survivors ...

CRS sells fair trade coffee, supporting Mexican farmers and land

Baltimore, Md., Sep 24, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Catholic Relief Services is now offering fair trade coffee beans that will benefit local farming communities ...

The Jesuit who survived the KGB

Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 24, 2018 CNA.- When Pope Francis visited a former KGB building in Vilnius, Lithuania Sept. 23, Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius ...

Next step toward artificial reproduction violates human fundamentals, ethicist warns

Washington D.C., Sep 25, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Artificial human reproduction appears to be on the horizon with Japanese scientists’ claim to ...

Update: Scandals create outrage, but there is time for conversion, pope says

TALLINN, Estonia (CNS) -- In what is probably the least religious country in Europe, Pope Francis said he is surprised by how many people hold firm to ...

Catholic leaders oppose administration's plan to limit green cards

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic leaders are speaking out against a Trump administration proposed rule announced Sept. 22 that would deny green cards to legal ...

Head of Georgetown Prep urges renewed commitment to being 'men for others'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a letter to the school community, the president of an all-boys Jesuit high school in suburban Washington emphasized the schools' ...

Today is 'hour of the laity,' Archbishop Gomez tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Hispanic Catholic leaders are living an important moment in the history of the Catholic church in the U.S. and are called to ...

Stay close to the suffering, forgive one another, pope tells Latvians

AGLONA, Latvia (CNS) -- What would Mary do? was the question Pope Francis, in effect, asked Latvian Catholics gathered at their nation's popular Marian ...

Joy, hope contagious for Encuentro participants as they discern priorities

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Joy, hope, energy and a spirit of continued collaboration are contagious among the participants of the Fifth National Encuentro, ...

Update: Pope in Lithuania: Don't let anti-Semitism, hatred resurge

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Outside the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Pope Francis ended a day of paying homage to victims of totalitarianism and ...

God is patient, even with failures, pope tells young Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Meeting young Lithuanians in Vilnius, Pope Francis said he wanted a relaxed conversation, like they were sitting in a pub ...

Update: Vatican signs provisional agreement with China on naming bishops

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Pope ...

Find strength in tolerance, solidarity, pope tells Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- In Lithuania, a nation that experienced invasions, atrocities and persecution, Pope Francis began his visit with a plea to ...

Ospino: Encuentro reflects 'energy, maturity' of a church 'here to stay'

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- The thousands of Hispanic Catholic ministry leaders gathered in Texas for the Fifth National Encuentro shared views on the maturity ...

N.J. cardinal won't attend synod, asks to remain home at 'time of crisis'

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he ...

Detroit Archdiocese welcomes investigation into Michigan dioceses

DETROIT (CNS) -- Michigan's attorney general has opened an investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by clergy in all of Michigan's seven Catholic ...

Catholics believe in God but 'don't believe in us,' Miami archbishop says

MIAMI (CNS) -- The crisis the Catholic Church is facing is not "a crisis of faith" or "mainly about a crisis of sexual abuse by clergy," but is "a crisis ...

Update: Disney animator says grounding in Catholic schools led to success

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the blockbuster ...

#WhyImCatholic movement aims to share hope at difficult time for church

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Catholic Extension has launched a new social media campaign called #WhyImCatholic to offer "hope and unity" for Catholics by inviting ...

Continue to be an evangelizing church, nuncio tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Archbishop Christophe Pierre encouraged Hispanic Catholic ...

Encuentro opens with procession, papal message, prayers for abuse victims

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- A video message from Pope Francis and a procession of Encuentro crosses representing all of the participating episcopal regions ...

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...