Obituary: Father Edwin D. Condon, former Navy chaplain and former Westwood pastor

One of the archdiocese's most respected, admired, and trusted priests, Father Edwin D. Condon died at Regina Cleri Residence on May 1; he had been diagnosed in February with pancreatic cancer; even with equally aggressive treatment and its debilitating effects, he was his usual determined and calm self. Just a month ago he was able to be at the funeral of his classmate, Father John "Jerry" Shea.

One of the two sons of the late Edwin and Eleanor (Connelly) Condon, he was born in Boston on May 9, 1936. Raised in the Hub's Dorchester section he grew up in St. Gregory Parish attending its elementary school before going to Dorchester High School. Following high school, he went to Boston College and after a year there he entered the archdiocesan seminaries as a member of the class of 1961.

Richard Cardinal Cushing ordained him to the priesthood at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Feb. 2, 1961. His first assignment was as an assistant at St. Joseph Parish, Pepperell. If a Dorchester native asked "Where's Pepperell?" he could be both understood and forgiven. Way up in the northwestern corner of the archdiocese it could not have been more different from his native Dorchester; in short -- it was rural. Four years later he was assigned to a parish that would have been much more like St. Gregory, St. Mary, Lynn.

At Lynn he was one of several assistants of the cultured and refined former archdiocesan Superintendent of Schools, Msgr. Cornelius T. Sherlock. The parish was compact in territory, but large in population. It boasted a huge elementary school and a boys' and a girls' high school. A previous pastor had "cleverly'' gerrymandered parish boundaries to include a hospital and cemetery. The priests were therefore -- busy. While at Lynn, Father Condon also earned a master's degree in Education from the then Salem State College. He also became very close friends with Msgr. Sherlock.

In 1972, he was appointed chaplain at Holy Rosary Home for Aged in Somerville, living in residence at St. Paul, Cambridge and St. Catherine of Genoa, Somerville between 1972 and 1975.

As much as the change from Lynn to Somerville may have been, the next change was even more dramatic. He entered the Corps of Naval Chaplains. For the next quarter century he was serving on land and at sea across the United States; among his assignments were Amphibious Base, Little Creek, Va.; U.S. Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md.; the Naval Recreation Center at Scotia, N.Y.; Norfolk, Va., one of the principal naval installations on the east coast; the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fla.; the Submarine Base at New London, Conn.; and among his favorite assignments: the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.

His near quarter century of naval chaplain service ended in 1999, when having served as a captain he was retired from active duty. Following this he went on self-funded study and sabbatical, returning to the archdiocese and named, by Cardinal Bernard Law, as the eighth pastor of St. Denis Parish, Westwood; he succeeded another former navy chaplain, Father Frederick Murray.

His calm style and gentlemanly demeanor as well as his attention to their needs endeared him to the parishioners in Westwood. Late in his term as pastor he assumed the additional responsibility of Interim Regional Vicar of the south region, between the departure of Bishop Richard Malone in 2004 and the arrival of Bishop John Dooher in 2006.

On July 1, 2005, he was granted senior priest status, though he was not really "retired". In late 2006, he was named Vicar for the Pastoral Care of the Clergy. In this position he was primarily caring for many priests of the archdiocese, especially those who were adjusting to retirement; to priests who were experiencing personal trials, spiritual difficulties or emotional challenges. He was a ready ear and a welcome go between for the priests and archdiocesan administration. To say he earned high marks would be a massive understatement. Also, following retirement he served for five years on the archdiocesan presbyteral council, representing senior priests and contemporaneously as a member of the board of consultors.

Following his retirement, he lived at his own residence in Hingham; he was readily available and warmly welcomed by brother priests and parishioners alike for daily and weekend assistance at area parishes.

Father Condon is survived by his brother, Doctor Robert Condon of Weymouth and several nieces and nephews.

Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley was the principal celebrant of Father Condon's Funeral Mass on May 7 at Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Church, Hingham. Among the 70 concelebrants were Bishops John Dooher and Mark O'Connell; classmates: Msgr. Cornelius McRae; Father John Schatzel; Father Robert Thomas; and Father Donald Clifford; the parish's pastor, Father Thomas Nestor; South Regional Vicar, Msgr. George Carlson; Father Bryan Parrish, archdiocesan vicar for clergy; and homilist pastor of St. John the Evangelist, Winthrop and retired Naval chaplain, Father Charles Bourke.

Following the Funeral Mass, Father Condon was buried with his parents at St. Joseph Cemetery, West Roxbury.

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