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Obituary: Father William Guerrette, former pastor in Ipswich

By Father Robert M. O'Grady Pilot Staff
Posted: 3/9/2018

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Father William J. Guerrette Pilot file photo

Father William J. Guerrette a Salem native died at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on Feb. 28. He was born in the Witch City on July 26, 1930 the son of the late Louis and Irene (Belanger) Guerrette.

Educated in local schools, he entered St. John Seminary as a member of the Class of 1955. Archbishop Richard Cushing ordained him on Feb. 2, 1955 at Holy Cross Cathedral. The archbishop made St. Joseph parish in Medway, Father Guerrette's first assignment.

Between the end of his Medway assignment and his being appointed a pastor in 1984, he was assistant, associate, parochial vicar or administrator in the following parishes: St. Ambrose, Dorchester (1958-1960); St. Theresa of Lisieux, Billerica (1960-1962); St. Thomas the Apostle, Salem (1962) St. Mary of the Hills, Milton (1962-1965); St. John the Evangelist, Canton (1965); St. Camillus, Arlington (1967-1968); Sacred Heart, Roslindale (1968-1971); St. James the Greater, Boston (1976-1981); and St. Peter, Lowell, (1981-1984). He also served as a chaplain at Ste. Chretienne, Salem (1965-1967); and Northeast Training Center, Topsfield (1971-1976).

Archbishop Bernard Law named him pastor of St. Stanislaus (French) Parish in Ipswich in 1984. He remained as the parish's pastor until he was granted senior priest status in October, 1995.

In retirement he lived at his own home in Rumney, N.H. The late Father Paul McEntee and he were great friends and "Mac" was often with Bill in Rumney on his days off, skiing and getting away from the business of the parish. Initial impression would be of a quiet and unassuming man; but after a while his great sense of humor and his delight in relating tales of events from his priestly life came through.

As he aged he abandoned the Rumney home for Regina Cleri in Boston and more recently he needed additional care provided so well at Marian Manor in South Boston.

Merrimack Regional Bishop Robert Hennessey was the principal celebrant of Father Guerrette's Funeral Mass at Our Lady of Hope in Ipswich on March 6. The parish's present pastor, Father Thomas Keyes was a concelebrant and homilist; among the concelebrants were Msgr. John P. McDonough, Regina Cleri, Boston and Father Thomas W. Buckley, a classmate of Father Guerrette, who lives in Abington. Father Guerrette was buried in St. Mary Cemetery, Salem.