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Obituary: Father Richard F. Ahearn, missionary and musician

By Father Robert M. O'Grady Pilot Staff
Posted: 12/2/2016

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Father Richard F. Ahearn Pilot file photo

Father Richard F. Ahearn, a priest of the archdiocese since his ordination on Feb. 2, 1960 at Holy Name Church, West Roxbury died in West Bridgewater on Nov. 19. He had been a senior priest since 2000.

A Whitman native and one of the three children and only son of the late Patrick and Mary (Dunn) Ahearn, he was born on June 5, 1929 and attended local schools. On graduation from the town's high school in 1947, he enrolled at Boston University and majored in music becoming an accomplished pianist as well as bringing a fine singing voice to the University Chorale.

Subsequently he entered St. John's Seminary as a member of the class of 1960. As was required at the time he had to fulfill those requirement of liberal arts and philosophy which he had not completed in his music program at BU; in effect (and this was not unusual) he had to repeat his junior and senior years of college though with a new major.

Following ordination he served as an assistant at two parishes: St. Patrick, Lynn (1960-1965) and St. Mary, Plymouth (1965-1966). He answered the call to missionary service and joined the fledgling Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle and served in South America for the next 17 years.

In an unusual move, on his return from South America he was appointed parish vicar at his home parish, Holy Ghost, Whitman (1984-1988). In 1989 he was appointed parochial vicar at St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish in Danvers and served with the then pastor, Father Gerard L. Dorgan until 2000 when Cardinal Bernard Law granted him senior priest/retirement status.

In retirement he lived at Youville House in Cambridge.

South Regional Bishop John Dooher was the principal celebrant of Father Ahearn's Funeral Mass at his home parish on Nov. 23. Among those concelebrating were the former pastor, Father Alan L. Butler, who was also the homilist of the Mass, and the present pastor, Father James M. Mahoney.

Father Ahearn is survived by his two sisters Irene West of Whitman and Marion Feeney of East Bridgewater. Following his Funeral Mass Father Ahearn was buried in St. James Cemetery, Whitman.