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Obituary: Father Charles McCoy former pastor in Waban

By Father Robert M. O’Grady
Posted: 12/11/2009

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Father Charles J. McCoy Pilot file photo


A priest of the archdiocese whose life, career and seminary coincided with several different generations of priests, Father Charles J. McCoy died Nov. 30 in Boston. He had been retired since Jan. 19, 2005 and had been in declining health for the past few months.

A native of Boston where he was born Feb. 2, 1926, he was the only son of the late Charles and Louise (Mahoney) McCoy. His only sibling, a sister, Louise, predeceased him. He was a proud son of South Boston and grew up in Gate of Heaven parish. He was an even prouder son of Boston College High School. Living in the midst of World War II, Charlie completed the accelerated high school at the “old BC High” in the South End and on Feb. 1, 1943 he was enrolled at Boston College a freshman. A wiry but elusive athlete, he was drafted to fill in as quarterback for the varsity team in his freshman year; he avoided another draft by enlisting in the Marine Corps at the end of his freshman season.

With the end of World War II he returned to BC and completed his undergraduate degree majoring in English and mathematics. While a junior at BC he was also the football coach at St. Thomas Aquinas High, Jamaica Plain. Following his graduation from BC he was a teacher in the Boston Public School system. The other school on Commonwealth Avenue, Boston University granted him an M. Ed. In the meantime he had become coach of the larger football program at St. Mary High School, Waltham. By the fall of 1952 he was back at BC High teaching and coaching.

By now some of his BC High classmates and contemporaries had finished their seminary studies and were ordained and serving in parishes of the archdiocese. Soon some of his students and players from BC High were enrolling in the seminary, some approaching ordination. In 1956 he entered St. John’s Seminary, Brighton where he was again a student, this time with some of his former BC High students! Auxiliary Bishop Jeremiah Minihan ordained him to the priesthood at Holy Name Church in West Roxbury on Feb. 2, 1961, his 35th birthday. Between ordination and February 1962 he was assistant in two parishes: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Scituate and St. Joseph, Somerville.

In 1962 he returned to teaching and coaching when he was assigned to the faculty of St. Sebastian School, then in Newton. He lived in residence at St. Mary of the Assumption Rectory in Brookline. Cardinal Cushing granted him permission to enter the Navy Chaplains Corps in June 1966 and for 24 years he served the Navy and Marines in 14 different stations including a tour in Vietnam; while there he was awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for bravery in service during an attack on a PT Boat. Retiring from the Navy as a captain in 1990 he first attended a priestly renewal program at the Marianella Institute in Ireland, served for a time on the Emergency Response Team and in July 1992, Cardinal Bernard Law named him pastor at St. Philip Neri Parish in Newton’s Waban section.

He served the parish with the same enthusiasm and zeal that he had the Navy. Not lost was his well known quick wit and, dry, actually arid, sense of humor. He could readily leave you crying in laughter without ever cracking a smile himself.

A man who preferred to focus attention on others, especially Marines, and not on himself, Father McCoy was a devoted alumnus of Boston College High School and the school was equally proud of a favorite son. The school named their new practice fields after him, enshrined him in the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame and named him a recipient of its highest award bestowed on an alumnus, the Ignatius Award.

Following his retirement from the Newton parish, he lived in his family home in Milton and assisted at St. Elizabeth Parish there.

Cardinal O’Malley was the principal celebrant of Father McCoy’s funeral Mass at Gate of Heaven Church, South Boston on Dec. 4. Concelebrating were Central Region Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hennessey; Father Gerard Brennan, homilist; archdiocesan vicar for parish life and leadership, Father Thomas Foley; archdiocesan director of the office for senior priest, Father James McCune; Father Edwin Condon, retired Navy Chaplain; Father Robert Casey, pastor of Gate of Heaven Parish; his parochial vicar, Father Edward Doughty; Father Lawrence Drennan and Father John Schatzel.

Following the funeral Mass Father McCoy was buried in New Calvary Cemetery, Mattapan.