Obituary: Father James J. Harrington, former North Shore pastor

Father James J. Harrington Pilot file photo

Born in Dorchester on Nov. 28, 1927 a son of the late Michael and Catherine Harrington, Father James J. Harrington died in Beverly on Sept. 16. Raised in Arlington, he attend the town's high school before Boston College and graduating from BC in 1949.

An alumnus of St. John's Seminary, he was ordained by Archbishop Richard J. Cushing at Holy Cross Cathedral on Sept. 29, 1953. He was a member of the "second" class of 1953, the first having been ordained on Feb. 2 of that year.

During the next 50 years of priestly ministry, he would serve in six archdiocesan parishes and in one academic setting.

Between 1953 and 1965, he was an assistant at three parishes: Infant Jesus, Brookline (1953-1956); St. Michael, Lowell (1956-1963); and St. Mary, Lynn (1963-1965). He went to progressively larger parishes with each assignment.

From 1965 to 1972, he found himself in a new, and this time an academic, setting first as a staff member (1965-1967) and then as headmaster (1967-1972) of Cardinal Cushing Academy, West Newbury.

He returned to what was always his first preference as a priest -- parish ministry initially as an associate at St. Theresa of Avila Parish, West Roxbury (1972-1974). Humberto Cardinal Medeiros named him pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Boston's Allston section in 1974, where he served until 1982. During his time at Allston he saw the slow but sure demographic change in that section of the city and that parish. Second and third generation Irish- and Italian-American families moved to the suburbs and Harvard University began buying the emptying homes; a few years later a strong contingent of Brazilians moved into the area.

In 1982, Cardinal Medeiros named him pastor of a very different parish, Sacred Heart in Manchester by the Sea. Much quieter than Allston and smaller than St. Anthony, the parish and town were a fine fit for Father Harrington. Genial, dry witted and always a twinkle in his eye, he very much came to be at home in the small North Shore town. Even following his retirement as pastor in 2003 he remained in the parish and the area, assisting in sacramental ministry until health cares made that impossible.

Father Harrington's funeral was celebrated at Sacred Heart on Sept. 21. North Regional Bishop Mark O'Connell was the principal celebrant, and the homilist was the present administrator, Father Paul G. Flammia; concelebrating was Father Thomas W. Buckley, who had been pastor of neighboring St. John the Baptist Parish in Essex during much of Father Harrington's term at Sacred Heart.

Following the Funeral Mass Father Harrington was buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Arlington. His immediate survivors are three sisters: Catherine Hallinan, Arlington; Helen Nugent, Lynnfield; and Ann Kelley, Tewksbury.

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