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Father Drea named pastor in Cambridge and campus minister at Harvard

By Father Robert M. O’Grady
Posted: 5/29/2009

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Father Michael Drea Pilot photo

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley has announced the appointment of Father Michael Drea as pastor of St. Paul Parish in Cambridge; up until now he has been the parochial vicar at St. Ann Parish in Quincy’s Wollaston section. The appointment carries the tradition of naming the parish’s pastor as the senior chaplain at the campus ministry serving Harvard University. The dual appointment is effective June 1.

A son of Holy Ghost parish in Whitman, Father Drea was born in Weymouth on June 24, 1966 he is one of the four children of Edward and Rose Marie (Donovan) Drea; his brother Kevin and his wife Susan are the proud parents of Father Drea’s first nephew, Timothy and his two sisters are Kristine and Kathleen Sarnacchino.

He names his family as the first and primary influence on his vocation choice, but also credits the influence of the sisters and priests at St. Bridget School and parish, Abington and the faculty at Cardinal Spellman High in Brockton from which he was graduated in 1984. Father Robert Reed, now director of Catholic TV and Father Arthur Coyle, present Regional Vicar of the Merrimack Region and one time chaplain at Cardinal Spellman were two priests who then and now provided Father Drea with encouragement and support, as well as models and examples of priestly service.

Before entering St. John’s Seminary he completed his undergraduate degree in Communications at Boston College in 1988 and BC granted him an MA with a concentration in higher education administration in 1994. He worked in the private sector at The Boston Company, and then returned to Spellman as Development Director and subsequently as Director of the Annual Fund at St. Sebastian School in Needham.

He entered St. John’s Seminary, and credits among others the then-rector Bishop Richard Lennon as among the “truly dedicated men and examples of priesthood”. Archbishop Seán O’Malley ordained him to the priesthood at Holy Cross Cathedral on May 22, 2004 -- the first class the then-archbishop ordained in Boston.

He had served his deacon internship at St. Mary of the Nativity, Scituate with Father Brian Manning’s pastoral leadership and example. His first and only assignment to date was as parochial vicar at St. Ann, Quincy where he served with two pastors who continued to guide and mentor him: Msgr. Robert Deeley, now in service to the Holy See, and the present pastor, Father John Ronaghan.

Asked about the most fulfilling responsibilities he has as a priest he cites his “regular celebration of the Eucharist with and for his people and the challenge of effective preaching -- trying to relate the scriptures, the very Word of God to his people so that they can apply it daily and let it shape their lives.”

Father Drea has been especially concerned with the young adults of Quincy and surrounding towns and founded the Theology on Tap in the Quincy area. He lights up when speaking about the opportunity this program gives for him to be a “bridge” between God and people.

Not surprisingly he is looking forward with enthusiasm and anticipation to the new assignments in Cambridge. While it is a new assignment he does not go as a complete rookie. The many and various experiences before and during his priestly ministry give him reason to “look forward to working with his brother priests, the parishioners and staff in continuing the traditions as well as making the parish a beacon inviting people to Christ.”

Since he will be dealing with many young people and perhaps not a few potential vocations his simple advice is “be open to the call.” Seek good advice, especially from a priest or spiritual director and do not be afraid to say Yes!