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‘We don’t really retire,’ Father Mahoney says

Posted By September 19, 2014 | 10:12 am | Featured Article #2
CFP File Photo
Bishop McManus joins others in applauding Father Thomas E. Mahoney, right, and Father Laurence V. Brault, at the dedication Mass for St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Upton in 2011.
CFP File Photo Bishop McManus joins others in applauding Father Thomas E. Mahoney, right, and Father Laurence V. Brault, at the dedication Mass for St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Upton in 2011.

By Laura Lambert
CFP Correspondent

A 77-year-old retired priest, Father Thomas E. Mahoney,  knew all his life that he wanted to become a priest.  However, this knowledge didn’t stop him from procrastinating.
“I knew since I was a little kid that I wanted to be a priest, maybe because I was brought up around priests … I was involved with good priests my whole life,” he stated.  “But I put it off for a while.  After high school, I went to technical school and I became an industrial photographer in Boston for a few years.  But it was still in the back of my mind.”
During his years of study at Franklin Tech (Boston), a friend from Father Mahoney’s hometown of Gardner would bring him along to Mass at a nearby church before the pair would go out for dinner in the evenings.  Due to their frequent visits, a young brother began to recognize Father Mahoney and, one day, followed him out the door.
“One day, I was leaving and he (the brother) ran after me, and he asked me, ‘Did you ever think of becoming a priest,’ and I said ‘No, I never did.”  Father Mahoney said.  “I lied to him, because I didn’t want to get stuck.  But that really put the seed back in my mind.”
Father Mahoney completed a year of pre-seminary language studies in Latin, Greek, and French at St. Philip Neri School. The intensive course prepared him for celebrating the Mass in Latin and studying the New Testament in Greek. Church diplomacy called for the study of French. Following the year of language studies, he joined the seminary, but following his calling to become a priest did not make life as a seminarian at minor seminary, Our Lady of Providence in Rhode Island, any easier.
celebrate-logo“The first four years were tough.  There were many, many temptations to say this was not for me … I’d been on my own for a while,” he said.  “My first day, we went on a week’s silent retreat.  And here I was in a strange place – I didn’t even know where the bathrooms were – and you couldn’t ask anybody.  So it was an introduction that I wasn’t ready for.”
Thomas Mahoney was ordained a priest for the Worcester Diocese in 1968 at the age of 30 after finishing his preparation for the priesthood at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Md.  He was then assigned to Our Lady of the Angels in Worcester where he stayed for seven years serving under Msgr. Warburton who was pastor of the parish at the time.  Father Mahoney spent time at multiple parishes through the diocese during his career, including St. Mary’s in Uxbridge, St. Andrew’s in Worcester, and St. Michael’s in Mendon where he spent 23 years before retiring as co-pastor of St. Gabriel, the Archangel Parish in Mendon-Upton in 2012.
The retiree’s week is still booked, however.  He spends his time, visiting the sick and bringing Communion to people.  He regularly makes appearances at various parish programs such as Vacation Bible School and CCD.  Father Mahoney also shares Mass duties with St. Gabriel’s current pastor, Father Laurence V. Brault and covers for other priests throughout the diocese when they are unavailable to say Mass in their own parishes.
Father Mahoney’s favorite thing about retirement is being able to still work.  “I think I’d go crazy if I just sat down and did nothing,” he said.  Rather, he has the opportunity to work leisurely and maintain relationships with his parishioners, without the pressure of meetings and pastoral responsibilities.  “Now, I have more time for them (parishioners) because I don’t have all those other things that Father Larry has to do.”
Father Mahoney remarked that the reality of retired priests is an active one.
“I think you should know that we don’t really retire,” he noted.  “We still work.”