Catholic Free Press

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  • Oct
  • 22

Hundreds celebrate our priests

Posted By October 22, 2014 | 12:32 pm | Featured Article #3


By Tanya Connor

When the previous pope resigned from his pontificate, he kept the name he’d taken upon accepting that ministry. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had become known to the world as Pope Benedict XVI.
Bishop McManus likened this to the situation of retired priests of the Worcester Diocese Oct. 14 at a fundraiser for their care. He said that, to him, the fact that the pope kept the name Benedict meant that he was changed by the papal office. Priests too remain priests forever.
“Our retired and senior priests are still fathers to us,” he said. “We must continue to serve their needs.”
The reception – to raise money to do that – drew about 400 priests and supporters to Mechanics Hall Tuesday night, according to committee member Michael P. Gillespie, director of the Diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development. Called “Celebrate Priesthood!” the reception was also a chance to honor all the diocese’s priests.
Sister Mary Ann Bartell, a Carmelite Sister of the Eucharist who tends to the needs of the retired priests, was recognized, as was the committee that organized the reception.
“Heavenly Father, as we celebrate priesthood tonight, help us to understand that it is a deep sharing in the divine friendship of the Holy Trinity,” Father Philip D. McNamara, a retired priest, said in his opening prayer. “Every time we priests renew the sacrament of the Last Supper at Mass, we are recalling that we are now not just disciples and followers, but friends of Jesus. And, as we gather here tonight with the faithful friends of Jesus in our diocese to celebrate the priesthood, we hope with divine help to attract other friends to Jesus, so that we may all one day celebrate that final feast of eternal friendship in the presence of the Holy Trinity at the heavenly banquet.”
As priests and their friends mingled, hors d’oeuvres were brought around. Photos, and interviews with people present, were shown on a large screen.
Interspersed with Bishop McManus’ remarks was a video produced by the Diocesan Office of Communications with brief comments about priests and priesthood by the diocese’s two retired bishops, retired and active priests, and others. In the video Bishop Reilly recalled a priest who paid attention to young men and caused 23 of them to go to seminary. He said a priest must always be aware he’s representing Christ. Bishop Rueger said he has people call all the time because they’re like family.
“If you become a priest, you’re going to have a giant family,” he said.
Father Charles P. O. Omolo, ordained last spring, closed with a prayer thanking God for the priesthood and the time shared Tuesday and imploring that “we be inspired to continue working in your vineyard as faithful and faith-filled servants all the days of our lives.” Bishop McManus then had the priests line up in front of the stage and sing the “Salve Regina” together.


Father Ortiz says devotions are important

By Patricia O’Connell
CFP Correspondent

FITCHBURG – Father Emerito Ortiz was sitting at his desk. In front of him was a Spanish-language magazine that contained an article on the importance of reviving Catholic devotions, such as the rosary, Marian processions, eucharistic adoration and other forms of prayer.
He believes these practices are very important in terms of increasing people’s faith, and bringing the fallen-away back to God.
Devotions are plentiful at his parish, St. Francis of Assisi, which has a large Spanish-speaking population. The rosary is prayed after the two weekly morning Masses, on Tuesday and Thursday. During the month of October, the rosary is also prayed before the Spanish Mass on

Father Emerito Ortiz  Photo by Patricia O'Connell

Father Emerito Ortiz
Photo by Patricia O’Connell

Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m.
celebrate-logo There are also various evening prayer groups at the parish.
On certain Sundays throughout the year, at the Spanish Mass, there are a number of religious celebrations that have been imported from various Latin American countries. In December, for instance, Our Lady of Guadalupe is honored. The parish, which has many Puerto Rican members, also has a November devotion to Our Lady of Divine Providence.
Last year, the parish held a Sunday devotion to Nuestra Señora de los Treinta y Tres, or Virgin of the Thirty Three. She is patroness of Uruguay, and there are a large number of Uruguayans living in the Fitchurg/Leominster area.
At times in the past, the parish has also held a traditional posada, which is nine nights of prayer held just before Christmas. This is when the faithful re-enact the Holy Family’s attempt to find lodging in Bethlehem. The word “posada” in English means “inn.”
Having a posada, which begins on Dec. 16, is very popular in Mexico. It typically involves a group of people, carrying candles, going to a different house for nine nights. The crowd may play the role of Saint Joseph, looking for a place to stay. The “innkeeper,” is the person who opens the door, and who also tells him there is no room.
Eventually, though, the innkeeper decides to let the “Holy Family” come inside. Then, more prayers will be said, usually followed by a celebration.
Father Ortiz is also often asked to bless people’s homes, especially if they have just moved into a new dwelling.
“They are starting a new life in a new home,” he said. “They are wanting the home to be blessed.”
Many Sundays, after Mass, he explains, he’ll visit a particular family in their home and pray the rosary with them.
Father Ortiz said he encourages his parishioners to invite other people to the parish.
“If you know them, please invite them to church,” he tells them.


Father Donahue turns into pastor after being administrator

By Father Paul J. Tougas
Special to The CFP

A very cheerful Father Martin P. Donahue, 86, was delighted to receive a call to talk about his 53 years as a priest. (I have to confess we are friends from seminary days, so we have known each other for a long time.)
I told him I wanted to present him as an educator because the whole central part of his career was in education and administration, so he gave a rundown of his positions. But then revealed that his pastoral work was very fulfilling.
“Well, I taught at St Michael’s College in Winooski, Vermont for five years after graduation and before I entered seminary, so I could have been destined for a career in schools,” he said.
“My first assignment was to St. Mary’s Parish in Southbridge as associate pastor and I arrived just as two parish schools were merging into one: Notre Dame and St Mary’s became Marianhill, and I became headmaster. Four years later I was assigned to Fitchburg to St. Bernard’s High School. Four years after that, I was assigned to become assistant superintendent of schools and that began 18 years in the Chancery as assistant and then superintendent and then vice chancellor.”
Father Donahue then said he took a one-year break from the Diocese to complete his doctorate at Harvard. During this time he also taught at Boston College.

Bishop Flanagan ordains Father Martin P. Donahue into the priesthood in 1961. They remained fast-friends for many years, Father Donahue says.

Bishop Flanagan ordains Father Martin P. Donahue into the priesthood in 1961. They remained fast-friends for many years, Father Donahue says.

With his doctorate secured, he returned to the Worcester Diocese where Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan asked him to assume the role of vice chancellor. It was later, when Bishop Timothy J. Harrington asked him to become chancellor, that Father Donahue decided it was time to have a parish.
Father Donahue was pastor at St Christopher Parish  in Worcester for 21 years. Asked to compare his pastorate years with his education/administration years he said, “Oh, as pastor you have a much more direct ministry with the people. You are much closer to the people and their pastoral needs. I was very happy to have the role of pastor.”
He went on to say that as a pastor, “I fulfilled what I  was ordained to do.”
Father Donahue retired 10 years ago. He continued doing ministry at Mary, Queen of the Rosary Parish in Spencer where he lives in a family home on a lake. This  ministry continued until  “I couldn’t do it any more. My eyesight failed,” he said.
In retirement, he says “you just have to learn to adapt, to adapt to whatever comes along.  Well you have to create a schedule and not just loll around all day.” Asked about his typical daily schedule he said, “It has to be a spiritual kind of thing. You have to have prayer in the morning and then a lakeside walk. I like to entertain my friends at dinner which is a wonderful way to keep in contact.”
What else does he do? “Well, I have audio books coming in and I have a reading machine which projects a printed page on the wall. In the afternoons I hear a book. The Commission on the Blind has been helpful to me. I have other services coming in, for cleaning and laundry.”
When his interviewer remarked he was doing quite well, he laughed and said, “ I think so! Adapt that’s what I say.”
During his years in Chancery, Father Donahue became good friends with Bishop Flanagan, Worcester’s second bishop. He would invite the Bishop to join him for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinners with his sister’s family in West Boylston. This went on for a good number of years until the Bishop died.
He would check in on the Bishop when he would return to Vianney House after a hospital stay. Father Donahue thus exhibited an outreach to the Bishop who had no family in the area.
Now, in his own retirement, Father Donahue is the recipient of similar concern from a husband and wife  whom he met at Mary, Queen of the Rosary while doing ministry in Spencer. This couple sees him every week, takes him out for shopping and tends to his other needs. This couple simply came forward and assumed this role. He is very grateful to them. “They are treasures,” he says, and agrees that his kindness to Bishop Flanagan  is being returned to him.
Father Donahue is particularly proud that with Bishop Daniel Reilly’s approval he secured a long-term care insurance policy for the priests through Unum. This policy, together with a priest’s diocesan pension and Social Security benefits will cover most nursing home costs for most priests. Many priests opted to buy this policy. Costs were shared with the Diocese.