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Obituary: Msgr. J. Robert Giggi, longtime Natick pastor


Msgr. J. Robert Giggi Pilot file photo

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Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley was the principal celebrant of the Funeral Mass of Msgr. J. Robert Giggi at the parish church where Msgr. Giggi had been pastor for more than three decades. Msgr. Giggi died in Weston on Aug. 7 at age 90. He had been pastor at St. Linus, Natick from 1981 to 2013.

Born in Weymouth on May 13, 1928, he was the only child of the late John and Mary (Oliva) Giggi. Ordained on Sept. 29, 1953, in the "second" class of 1953 by Archbishop Richard Cushing at Holy Cross Cathedral, he was assigned to St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Revere following ordination.

In 1955 he was appointed as an assistant at St. Philip Neri, Newton. In 1961 he was appointed chaplain at the Boston State Hospital in the Hub's Mattapan section. At the time the hospital occupied sprawling lands bordering Forest Hills Cemetery and Morton Street. In 1980 he was named an associate at St. Andrew the Apostle in Forest Hills, less than a mile from Boston State Hospital.

Humberto Cardinal Medeiros named him pastor of St. Linus Parish in Natick on Dec. 8, 1981; the fourth pastor of the Natick parish. Over the next three decades he endeared himself easily to the faithful of the parish. He was easy going; gracious and warm hearted.

And, by his own admission, he wanted to be a monsignor. His friends and classmates would testify that he regularly asked Bernard Cardinal Law "When are you going to make me a monsignor?" Some might say asked was too mild a verb. Thus he was delighted to be among the group of 32 Boston priests named as monsignors on April 21, 1998 by Pope John Paul II at Cardinal Law's request.

His priest friends averred that he "was on the train to New York the next morning to get measured." No one begrudged him the honor; and he relished taking comments about his petitions to Cardinal Law and his rush to get measured. Precisely because of his tireless priestly ministry and years of active ministry, well beyond "retirement" years, parishioners and fellow priests approved heartily of the honor.

Following his retirement in 2013 he lived initially in his own home in Norwood and recently was a resident at Wingate Nursing Care in Weston.

Several priests joined Cardinal O'Malley as concelebrants including Father Brian Kiley, rector of Pope St. John XXIII Seminary, Weston, and Father George Emerson, Regina Cleri Residence, Boston who also served as the homilist of the Mass. Following the Funeral Mass, Msgr. Giggi was buried in Mount Wollaston Cemetery, Quincy.

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