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Living the Faith: Paul Dolan

By Donis Tracy Pilot Correspondent
Posted: 2/20/2009

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Paul Dolan Courtesy photo

LEXINGTON -- The year was 1952. Paul Dolan was only 20 years old, and fighting in the war in Korea.

“It was the first day over there. I was scared. I think we were all scared,” he recalled. “We went up on the line and they started shooting at us. I was hit.”

That was one of the days Dolan was very grateful for his faith.

“I had to rely on my faith like never before,” he said.

Recovering from a back wound at the Valley Forge Army Hospital, Dolan said he clung onto his faith to carry him through the most difficult moments.

Now, more than half a century later, Dolan still considers his Catholic faith to be “like an anchor for my life.”

“I never thought I’d live to see 77,” he said with a smile, noting that for him church is a place where he can retreat from the things of this world.

“There’s so much violence and war going on in the world. It’s nice to be able to get away when you go to church,” he said.

A daily commincant, Dolan has been a parishioner at St. Brigid Church ever since he and his wife, Marion, moved to Lexington over 30 years ago. He has also been an usher for over 20 years.

“I go to church just about every day,” he said. “Whenever Father asks to me to do anything, I help.”

According to Dolan, St. Brigid parish is a close-knit community. “A lot of us work together on things,” he said, noting that there are between 40 and 50 parishioners that help run all the programs of the parish.

Dolan praised his pastor, Father Arnold Colletti, for his ability to run the two parishes in Lexington and their diverse communities despite the fears that many parishioners had that one parish would be closed.

Instead, Dolan said that, “each parish operates differently; each parish operates independently.”

“Father Colletti is a nice fellow,” he said. “He works real hard to get people together and to get them to know each other.”

A cradle Catholic originally from West Roxbury, Dolan credits his family with sowing the seeds of faith in him. His mother -- a German Catholic -- and his father -- an Irish Catholic -- raised Dolan and his nine siblings to both rely on their faith to help them get through difficult times and to thank God for the good times.

Dolan believes this is why he has never questioned his faith -- not even during the clergy abuse crisis when so many people’s faith in the Church was shaken.

“They blamed all the priests, even the innocent ones. Poor guys,” said Dolan.

St. Brigid Parish, Lexington

Year established -- 1848

Pastor -- Father Arnold Colletti

Parochial Vicar -- Father William Smith

Deacon Emeritus -- William Wildes

Pastoral Associate -- Anne Willhite

Religious Education Director -- George Begin

Director of Music -- Bill Grzybowski

Director of Youth Ministry -- Megan Chenaille