Fathers Cunney, Fagan and O’Rourke named senior priests

Father James O’Rourke Pilot file photo

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM Cap., has announced that he has granted senior priest/retirement status to three priests of the archdiocese. The combined years of service of Fathers Henry Cunney, Joseph Fagan and James O’Rourke reaches almost a century and a half.

Father Henry Cunney

Raised in Salem, the scion of a well-known Salem family, Father Cunney was born on June 4, 1934. Following his theological training at St. John Seminary, he was ordained to the priesthood at Holy Cross Cathedral on Feb. 2, 1959 by Richard Cardinal Cushing.

During the next 49 years, his priestly ministry was exercised in parishes and on high school and college campuses literally across the archdiocese.

Between 1959 and 1964 he was an assistant at three parishes: St. Peter, Gloucester; St. Andrew the Apostle, Forest Hills; and Blessed Sacrament, Walpole.

His first foray into campus ministry was his three-year assignment as chaplain at Nazareth Academy in Wakefield, where he served for three years.

In 1967 he returned to parish ministry with assignments, again as an assistant, at St. Agatha, Milton and St. Joseph, Wakefield.

Returning closer to home, he was named chaplain at Bishop Fenwick High School in Peabody in 1970, and in 1973 he was named assistant at St. Agnes, Arlington. In 1976 he was named assistant at St. Mary of the Hills Parish, Milton which would be the single longest assignment of his priestly ministry remaining there until June 1986.

He served again briefly in campus ministry, though this time at the college level when he served as chaplain at Regis College, Weston.

He returned to parish ministry again in 1987 when he was named parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Parish, Roslindale.

In December 1991, Cardinal Bernard Law named him pastor of Nativity Parish in Merrimac, and just before the end of his term there he was named pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Nahant.

He retired from the more administrative duties of pastor when he was named parochial vicar at St. Richard of Chichester Parish, Danvers in November 2001.

Father Cunney now lives at his own residence with his retirement on April 1, 2008.

Among his great priestly qualities is his trademark smile. The shock of white hair and the obviously fair Irish face seem the perfect frame for the smile which he seems to wear continually.

One of his great hobbies has been travel, both personal and professional. He loves going places, seeing new sights and meeting people. In several assignments he was the “tour organizer and guide” for parish trips domestic and international. May God bless Father Cunney with health so that he continues to serve God’s people -- and perhaps even to travel more.

Father Joseph Fagan

A Boston native and son of South Boston, Father Joseph Fagan was born Dec. 3, 1940. After attending local schools he entered archdiocesan seminaries, with Richard Cardinal Cushing ordaining him to the priesthood at Holy Cross Cathedral on June 7, 1967.

His first assignment was to the then fledging parish of St. Richard, Danvers -- the very same from which Father Cunney retired on April 1 as parochial vicar. At the time of his assignment the parish, founded in 1963, was led by Msgr. John Cusack -- who was busy building the parish, both people and plant.

After three years the popular young priest was allowed to enter the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle for service in South America, desperately in need of priests. He served for two years, returning to Whitman, where he was named assistant at Holy Ghost Parish. In October 1979, Cardinal Medeiros named him moderator of the team ministry assigned to St. John Chrysostom in West Roxbury.

After the first term of the team ministry expired in 1985, Father Fagan was named parochial vicar at Sacred Heart, Quincy. Five years later he was named to a similar post, serving briefly at St. Lucy in Methuen.

Father Fagan, who had always been a vigorous and active man, suffered some health problems and his mobility became more and more limited. Although it was much more difficult for him to move about, neither his zest for people and life, nor his priestly zeal suffered noticeable limitations. Actually, he seemed to deflect any talk of his own health -- always inquiring about others first.

Cardinal Law, seizing an opportunity, named him as a spiritual director at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston on Nov. 16, 1998. Thus, almost a full decade of seminary classes has been the beneficiary of Father Fagan’s priestly ministry, example and enthusiasm.

While at Blessed John he made an extra effort to assist in parishes and made a weekly trek for some time to St. Ann Parish, Peabody, to assist on weekends.

With his May 10 retirement, Father Fagan will move to Regina Cleri where his self-effacing humor and his winning ways will surely be of great benefit to his brother priests.

Father James O’Rourke

Born in 1933 in Melrose, and a son of St. Joseph Parish, Wakefield, Father James O’Rourke has “connections” to the two other retirees: Father Cunney was an assistant at his home parish, while Father O’Rourke was a member of the St. James Society like Father Fagan.

Father O’Rourke is one of the golden jubilarians of this bicentennial year of the archdiocese. He was ordained by Archbishop Richard Cushing on Feb. 3, 1958 at Holy Cross Cathedral, making him one of the “sesquicentennial newly ordained”!

Following his ordination he was named as an assistant at St. Peter Parish, Lowell. After just three years he took up Cardinal Cushing’s call for service in the then fledgling Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle. For the next 11 years he served with the Society in South America.

In 1972 he was named an assistant at St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Woburn and the following year found him serving as associate at Jamaica Plain’s Blessed Sacrament Parish, given special responsibility for the growing Spanish-speaking population.

In 1977 he was named pastor at the parish and served for three years until he returned in 1980 to the St. James Society. He remained with the Society for eight more years, returning to parish life in the archdiocese in 1988 as a parochial vicar at St. Columbkille Parish, Brighton. For the past 20 years he has been the cornerstone, as it were, of the parish’s service to the steadily growing Hispanic population in the once solidly Irish and Irish-American section of the city.

Father O’Rourke has been experiencing some health problems recently, but he reaches the ‘‘magic number’’ -- 75 -- this year and so Cardinal O’Malley granted his request for senior priest retirement status effective April 1.

In reading the brief biographies of these three priests, you will notice the diversity of backgrounds and interests, the different “styles” and personalities of each, and yet note also how often the paths of priests of the archdiocese may cross one another, intertwine with one another and affect one another. Sometimes priests themselves may not see connections that only “fate” -- such as retirement dates -- reveals! A truth about our priests, oft stated by Cardinal O’Malley, is perhaps well demonstrated this week: “we’re all brothers, but we’re not twins.”

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, ...