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Msgr. Tierney retiring from Regina Cleri in July

By Father Robert M. OíGrady
Posted: 5/29/2009

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Msgr. James Tierney Pilot photo

A priest who has served the senior priests of the archdiocese of Boston for almost two decades as Director of the senior priestsí residence, Regina Cleri, in Bostonís West End will himself become a senior priest on June 30, 2009. Msgr. James Tierney has been serving as the Director since Oct. 1, 1990 when he was named to the position by Cardinal Bernard Law.

A native of Melrose and a graduate of local public schools he attended the archdiocesan seminary system at Brighton and Archbishop Richard Cushing ordained him to the priesthood at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on May 3, 1950. His first assignment, slightly more than a year, was as an assistant at St. Joseph Parish, Kingston.

On Sept. 5, 1951 he began 22 years of service in the Metropolitan Tribunal of the archdiocese. During the course of the more than two decades there he served as secretary (1951-1960) and defender of the bond (1960-1973). During those same years he also lived in residence at several parishes St. Lawrence, Brookline (1951-1952); St. John the Evangelist, Wellesley (1952-1954) and Our Lady Help of Christians, Newton (1954-1970). He took an added responsibility in 1970 when he was named Chaplain of the Xaverian Brothers at Malden Catholic High School, Malden (1970-1973).

Pope Paul VI named him a member of the papal household as a Chaplain of His Holiness with the title of Reverend Monsignor on March 13, 1967.

Cardinal Medeiros named him pastor of Sacred Hearts parish in Haverhillís Bradford section in September 1973 and he served there for 17 years prior to his assignment at Regina Cleri. He was also for six years an episcopal vicar in the Lowell Region (1975-1981) remaining as pastor in Haverhill.

At Regina Cleri he was responsible for the day to day management of the physical plant, but more so the pastoral -- i.e. spiritual, physical, emotional and material welfare of the senior priests in residence. An ever-gracious host, his welcome was warm and wide to visitors -- clergy and laity alike. More was he appreciated by his brother priests for his constant care for them.

An avid and astute amateur historian he took care to note the important biographical details of priests often coinciding with events in church and world history. For almost a decade in addition to being responsible for the priests at Regina Cleri he was also responsible for the other senior priests of the archdiocese who lived in parishes, extended care or nursing facilities or in their own homes.

He is always ready with an edifying story or an interesting detail of a senior priestís life, which seems inevitably to lead to more stories and reminiscences.

He wonít be moving from Regina Cleri, but will join the community there as a fellow senior priest in residence.