Obituary: Father John R. Mulvehill, pastor in Weymouth and Cohasset

Father John R. Mulvehill, a priest of the archdiocese with a wide variety of priestly assignments, from parish to college president, to archdiocesan religious education directory and back to the parish, died in Falmouth on May 4, 2024.

Born in Norwood on Jan. 17, 1931, he was raised in Westwood and was a 1948 alumnus of Boston College High School. He was also an alumnus of the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, graduating in the Class of 1952.

Auxiliary Bishop Jeremiah F. Minihan ordained him to the priesthood at Holy Name Church, West Roxbury, on Feb. 2, 1957. He served as an assistant at two parishes: St. Mary, Randolph (1957-1963); and St. Benedict, Somerville (1963-1965).

In 1965, he was tapped to pursue graduate studies in sacred theology at St. Patrick College, Maynooth, Ireland -- the pontifical national seminary of Ireland near Dublin.

Armed with the doctorate, he returned to the archdiocese in 1968, and served very briefly as an associate at St. Joseph, Malden.

In July 1968, he was assigned to the faculty of Cardinal Cushing College, Brookline, serving as a faculty member through 1983, during which time he also served a term as president of the college.

In 1972, he was appointed archdiocesan director of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD), and subsequently, director of the Office of Religious Education. He continued to serve on the Cardinal Cushing faculty as well.

He instituted formation programs for parish religious education teams, taking the office out to the regions and parishes. The Master Teacher Program, the brainchild of Sister Marion O'Connor, RC, received impetus and support from Father Mulvehill. They assembled teams of local experts in theology and classroom management and boosted both the morale and competence of the overwhelmingly volunteer corps of religious education formators in the archdiocese.

Indeed, it is rightly said of him that he was a proponent of lifelong learning for everybody.

During these 15 years, he was in residence at St. Theresa of Avila Rectory, West Roxbury. Always a great raconteur, he had an endless store of narratives -- real and perhaps sometimes a bit embellished -- not only from his experiences at Cardinal Cushing College and the Religious Education Office, but also as an inside observer of St. Theresa Parish.

Humberto Cardinal Medeiros named him pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Weymouth on March 25, 1983. At one of the older and busier parishes on the south shore, he returned to parish life, bringing that emphasis on formation and was, not surprisingly, especially attentive to the parish school and parish religious education program.

After two terms in Weymouth (1972-1995), he received another assignment, not too far from Weymouth and just a bit farther from his summer place in Falmouth, as pastor of St. Anthony of Padua, Cohasset. Cardinal Bernard Law made the appointment on July 11, 1995.

At Cohasset, he seemed omnipresent. If he did not personally answer the phone at the parish, he personally returned phone calls. Here, he began programs, entrusting much of the day-to-day management and direction to lay faithful of the parish.

He remained as pastor in Cohasset until 2019 well past -- by a dozen years -- the usual retirement age of 75. This permitted him to spend much earned time at his home in Falmouth. He was not, however, absent from parish life, regularly assisting the pastor in Falmouth at his multiple-church parish.

Cardinal Seán O'Malley was the principal celebrant of Father Mulvehill's funeral Mass at St. Anthony of Padua, Cohasset, on May 13, 2024. Father Thomas Nestor, the pastor of nearby Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and St. Paul Parishes, both in Hingham, was the homilist.

Among the concelebrants were: Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus John Dooher; Msgrs. William M. Helmick, George Carlson; Fathers William Joy, Kenneth Cannon, Robert Connors, Philip McGaugh, Michael Bova Conti, Eugene Sullivan, John Mulloy, Hien Vu, Richard Moran, John Predmore, SJ, and the present pastor of St. Anthony of Padua, Cohasset, and St. Mary of the Assumption, Father Scott Euvrard.

Father Mulvehill was buried in St. Joseph Cemetery, Falmouth. He was predeceased by his parents: John and Margaret (Doggett) Mulvehill, and his sisters Mary Donelin and Margaret Sullivan.