Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley celebrates the Mass. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy
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CAMBRIDGE -- Bishops, priests, friends and family gathered at St. Paul's Parish in Cambridge, Oct. 16, as the Archdiocese of Boston commended the spirit of retired Boston auxiliary Bishop John P. Boles to his final repose in Jesus Christ.
Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, who celebrated the Mass of the Resurrection, and Bishop Emeritus of Manchester John B. McCormack, who gave the homily, processed into the church alongside auxiliary bishops of Boston, the Bishop of Portland Robert P. Deeley, and 63 priests.
Bishop McCormack focused his homily on the call of Jesus to Peter in the Gospel of John -- a call Bishop Boles had answered in his 59 years of service to the Church as a priest, an educator, and a bishop.
He said Bishop Boles answered Christ's call "Feed my lambs," by deciding to become a priest in the service of the Archdiocese of Boston.
Bishop Boles died Oct. 9 at St. Patrick Manor in Framingham after a prolonged illness. He was 84 years old. He had served as regional bishop of the archdiocese's Central Region until his retirement in 2006.
Bishop Boles was ordained to the priesthood in 1955 by Archbishop Richard J. Cushing. His first assignment came as a parochial vicar at St. Edward the Confessor Parish in Medfield, and later as pastor at St. Paul in Cambridge, where he also headed the Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Student Center.
Educated as a young man at St. Sebastian's Country Day School, he earned a doctorate in education and master's degrees in theology and psychology from St. John Seminary in Brighton and Boston College.
After a distinguished career in Catholic education that led to his appointment as Director of Education for the archdiocese, he became a bishop in 1992.
Music from the Choir of St. Paul's, directed by John Robinson, accompanied the Mass with such hymns as "Lady of Knock" and "In Paradisum" during the liturgy. Margaret B. McCobb, Stephen Gust, Laurine Kohler, Sister Brigid Riley, O. Carm., Craig Gibson brought the gifts to the altar with Patricia Brett and James Brett -- who gave a reflection on the bishop's life at the close of the Mass.
Brett reflected on Bishop Boles as an educator, a loving brother and a man answering God's call, but he started with a reflection on a hobby of the bishop. He said, as a scholar, the bishop spent much time with books, particularly a worn copy of a book that catalogued birds.
"I think the fact that he was a bird watcher tells us that he was a man of calm composure and true modesty, alert and observant, who appreciated the beauty of the world around him," Brett said.
Throughout the reflection, Brett recalled a man who deeply loved education and demonstrated closeness with people -- particularly his sister Mary Boles O'Connor -- that was reflected in his humility as a bishop.
"Even after he was entitled to the excellent title of "His Excellency," he preferred to be addressed simply as Father Boles," Brett said.
"His life was a lived sermon. May he rest in God's peace," he said.
Cardinal O'Malley gave his own reflection on the life of the bishop.
"Today there is a certain sadness, because we are bidding farewell to a friend, but at the same time our hearts are filled with gratitude. As Jim said, his life was a sermon -- a sermon that witnessed to his faith, to his fidelity, his ministry as a priest and bishop that touched so many lives," Cardinal O'Malley said.
Cardinal O'Malley read a letter from the Holy See on the passing of Bishop Boles.
"The Holy Father was saddened to learn of the death of Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus John Patrick Boles. He offers heartfelt condolences to you, to the clergy, religious and laity of the archdiocese. In commending the late bishop to the love and mercy of Christ the Good Shepherd, he joins in your prayer of thanksgiving for the many graces which accompanied his years of devoted priestly and episcopal ministry to the Church in Boston," the cardinal read.