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Obituary: Father John F. Walsh, pastor in Plainville


Father John Walsh Pilot file photo

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Father John Walsh, who for the past ten years has been pastor of St. Martha Parish in Plainville died at Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleborough on Oct. 22. He had celebrated his 63rd birthday on July 9.

A Somerville native he was one of four children of the late Thomas and Nora (Buckley) Walsh. He was raised in a staunchly Catholic family in the overwhelmingly Catholic city of Somerville and attended the grammar school at his home parish, St. Catherine of Genoa and St. Mary High School in neighboring Cambridge.

On graduation he entered the Irish Christian Brothers as they were then called and after his college education at Iona College, New Rochelle, N.Y. he was assigned a teacher of English and Latin, first at Bishop Gibbons High School, near Albany and then at Catholic Memorial High School, West Roxbury. He had further degrees from Boston College and also from Blessed John XXIII National Seminary.

Admitting that he had been greatly influenced by a priest in his home parish, the late Father Bernard Sullivan who had been assigned to the Somerville parish, Father Walsh sensed a call to priestly ministry. After a number of years as a Brother he entered Blessed John Seminary and following theological studies, Cardinal Humberto Medeiros ordained him to the priesthood at Holy Cross Cathedral on June 5, 1982.

His priestly assignments included St. Patrick, Lawrence (1982-1987); Sacred Heart, Quincy (1987-1988); St. Lucy, Methuen (1988-1995) and St. Margaret Lowell (1995-1998).On Sept. 1, 1998 Cardinal Bernard Law named him pastor of St. Martha Parish in Plainville.

Known as a quiet man yet possessing a wonderful sense of humor and, as one of his classmates said “a brilliant mind.” He quietly served the people of Plainville, involving himself in the wider community serving as chaplain of both the Fire and Police Departments in Plainville and as a member of the town’s Senior Center.

His brother, Father Thomas M. Walsh, SSC was the principal celebrant of his brother’s funeral Mass at St. Martha Church on Oct. 27. A Classmate from Blessed John Seminary, Father Francis Mawn, pastor of Corpus Christi Parish, Lawrence was the homilist. He was joined by some 30 classmates, friends and collaborators of his brother, among them archdiocesan vicar general, Father Richard Erikson; Msgr. Timothy Moran, pastor of St. Joseph, Medway and vicar of the area; Father Joseph Mozer of the archdiocesan Tribunal and Father J. Garret Thomson, administrator of St. Martha Parish. West Regional Bishop Walter Edyvean presided at the funeral Mass.

In addition to his brother, Father Walsh leaves two sisters Joan Bunker, Somerville and Marie Forestill, Hanson. Following his funeral Mass, Father Walsh was buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, North Andover.

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