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Father John Silk was pastor in Wrentham

By Father Robert M. O’Grady
Posted: 8/29/2008

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Father John Silk Pilot file photo


North Regional Bishop Francis Irwin was the principal celebrant of the funeral Mass of Father John D. Silk on Aug. 23 at St. Rita Church, Lowell. Father Silk died at D’Youville Senior Care Center in Lowell on Aug. 19. He had turned 80 years old on March 4.

A native of Lowell, he attended local schools and graduated from Keith Academy in 1945. He was a member of the first class, graduated in 1951, from the then recently opened Merrimack College in North Andover. He served in the United States Navy during the Korean conflict and subsequently entered the archdiocesan seminary.

Richard Cardinal Cushing ordained him to the priesthood on Feb. 2, 1959, at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. In another first for him, Father Silk was among those ordained in the months following the Boston archbishop’s being named a cardinal by Blessed John XXIII.

During the first 25 years of his priestly life he served in five assignments. Immediately following ordination he was named an assistant at St. Jerome, Weymouth. Four years later he was assigned as chaplain at Cambridge’s Holy Ghost, now Youville, Hospital where he served for 10 years. In 1973 he returned to parish ministry as an assistant at St. Joseph in Belmont. Further assignments brought him to St. Margaret, Burlington (1980-1984) as an associate and to St. Camillus, Arlington (1984-1987) as parochial vicar.

Cardinal Bernard Law named him pastor of St. Mary Parish in Wrentham and when he left that parish he assisted at Immaculate Conception, Newburyport and Holy Family, Amesbury until 2004.

With declining health he eventually moved to D’Youville Senior Care in Lowell. He was back in the city where he had been born, a son of the late Adam and Mary (Cogger) Silk.

An avid golfer and traveler, he also enjoyed Big Band music.

Father William C. Burckhart was the homilist at Father Silk’s funeral Mass and he concelebrated with Bishop Irwin and St. Rita’s pastor and Merrimack Region, Vicariate II’s dean, Father Daniel Magni among others.

Father Silk’s survivors are his sister Mary McInerney, Chelmsford and James of Lowell. Following the funeral Mass Father Silk was buried in St. Mary Cemetery, Tewksbury.