“He was a gentleman.” “He was the kindest man I’ve met.” “He was quiet, but could laugh.” Just some of the quotes from brother priests who either knew or had been assigned with Father Maurice Connolly, who died Thursday, July 24.
A native of Nova Scotia, where he was born on Feb. 14, 1926, Maurice V. Connolly was one of the six sons of the late Daniel and Margaret (Halloran) Connolly. The boys had one sister, the late Marie Chisolm.
He attended local schools and graduated from St. Francis Xavier in Antigonish, Nova Scotia in 1950. His undergraduate studies were in economics and accounting. He arrived in the United States in 1951 and worked in the business community for several years. He entered St. John’s Seminary in 1956 and Richard Cardinal Cushing ordained him to the priesthood at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Feb. 2, 1962.
Father Connolly’s “second career” as a priest was a harbinger of the “delayed vocation” priests whose numbers would increase over the following years. World War II had produced a number of priests who entered the seminary after their military service, but those with college degrees and subsequent careers prior to seminary formation increased in the ’60s.
Following his ordination and in the years following to 1989 Father Connolly served as either an assistant or an associate pastor in archdiocesan parishes. St. Vincent de Paul, South Boston (1962-1966); St. Jerome, Weymouth (1966-1969) which he considered a special challenge because of the rather well-known and “demanding” pastor at the time. In later years he laughed at the situation, though he admitted he did not do so at the time! Further assignments followed at St. Mary, Randolph (1969-1970); St. James, Haverhill (1974); St. Patrick, Lynn (1975-1977); St. Joseph, Woburn (1977-1981); and St. Mary Star of the Sea, Beverly (1981-1989). From 1971-1974 he returned “home to Canada but to a far different area than Nova Scotia when he was on a lend lease service in the diocese of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Cardinal Law named him pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Revere’s Beachmont section. In 1991 Father Connolly returned to “ranks” and was named associate pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Wakefield where he served until his retirement on Aug. 1, 1995.
“Mo,” as he was known to most priests, had some health struggles and had a few periods of health leave between some of his assignments. In spite of these he seemed always of good cheer and disposition.
A tall lanky man, ever ready with smile, he had a wit that was deceptively covered by his generally quiet and reserved style. He was as ready to laugh with you and at himself. He had no “airs” and his lilt, bordering on a bit of brogue, added to his calm and endearing personality.
North Region Bishop Francis X. Irwin was scheduled to be the principal celebrant of Father Connolly’s funeral Mass at St. Joseph Church, Wakefield on July 29. Father Paul Clifford, pastor at St. John the Evangelist, Hopkinton was the homilist and among those joining them as concelebrants were archdiocesan vicar general, Father Richard Erikson, Father Thomas Foley, vicar for Parish Life and Leadership, and Father Charles Connolly, SJ, New England Jesuit Development Office, and members of Father Connolly’s ordination class.
Following the funeral Mass Father Connolly was buried in Puritan Lawn Memorial Park, Peabody. His immediate survivors are his brothers John of Peabody and Joseph of Toronto, Ontario.