DORCHESTER -- The "Father Dan," the Boston Fire Department's new 32 foot fire boat, sat on the bed of a truck outside Florian Hall in Dorchester as members of the fire department and locals gathered inside the hall to honor the boat's namesake, Father Daniel J. Mahoney.
Chief Chaplain and the longest serving member of the Boston Fire Department, Father Mahoney sat at a table inside among an estimated 250 guests as Fire Commissioner Joseph E. Finn described the new boat and praised Father Mahoney.
"A new 32 foot aluminum catamaran, with twin 250 horse power engines, (the fire boat) also features a 72 inch bow door with a hydraulic ramp for beach landings, as well as the latest sonar to map the ocean floor, and a forward looking infrared for night vision. It can reach top speed of 35 knots, which will allow us a very nimble response anywhere in the harbor," he said.
"I'm proud we're dedicating (it) to Father Dan Mahoney, a man who's dedicated his life to two loves: First, the Catholic Church, and the second the fire service, in particular the Boston Fire Department. Father Dan has been a priest for over 60 years and a chaplain of the Boston Fire Department for 52 of those years," he continued.
Ordained in 1956 by the late Cardinal Richard Cushing, Father Mahoney was appointed assistant chaplain to the Boston Fire Department in 1964. He was promoted to senior assistant chaplain in 1972, and then to chief chaplain in 1991.
Commissioner Finn noted Father Mahoney also serves as pastor of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Charlestown. However, he said, in addition to his spiritual work, "Father Dan has a very distinguished career on the fireground as well."
"He was awarded the Distinguished Service Award in 1983 for saving the Torahs from the destruction of a seven-alarm fire in Everett at the Temple of Tifereth. He was recognized by the city of Cambridge Fire Department with the combination award for risking his life in performance of his duties at a fatal helicopter crash at the boat house on Memorial Drive in January of 1989," he said.
"As you can see, Father Dan has been a very lucky man to have woven his two passions in life into one memorable career, and all of us present, his family, friends from Charlestown, Boston firefighters, brother firefighters from across the state, have all benefitted from this great man's love and devotion to the Church and his long devotion for his firefighters," he continued.
Father Mahoney also addressed the attendees.
"First, let me say how humbled I am to have Marine 2 named the Father Dan. In a certain sense the Father Dan includes every member of the Boston Fire Department, because every one of you and your families are with me every day at Mass and at prayer," he said.
"I have been humbled by the choice of the new name of the fire boat. Thank you, Commissioner, and thank all the members of the department who made that unanimous choice. Every Boston firefighter is my brother and sister, and believe me, I will always be your brother," he continued.
Attendees then processed outside, where Father Mahoney took a drape off the front of the boat, revealing the words "Father Dan" emblazoned in red on both sides of the vessel.
He blessed the boat before posing for pictures with firefighters, parishioners, and family members who attended the dedication ceremony.
Speaking with The Pilot following the event, Father Mahoney's cousin, Kathy, said she is "very proud" of her cousin.
"He's always been a model in the family -- he's somebody we always look up to... He's been an inspiration to all of his cousins and family members," she said.
Maureen Collier, a parishioner of St. Francis de Sales for almost 50 years, described her close connection to Father Mahoney.
"Father has married me, buried my parents... He's a close friend, member of our family," she said.
"We're just blessed to be part of the St. Francis family," she continued.