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Bishop Dooher recalls S. Boston waterfront, original Seaport Chapel


  • Father Walter J. Martin S.J. celebrates a memorial Mass for President John F. Kennedy at Our Lady of Good Voyage Chapel in November 1985. Pilot file photo/Sister Rita Murray
  • Father Philip LaPlante SM locks the door of the Seaport Chapel on his way to the waterfront in this undated file photo. (Pilot file photo/Susie Stevens)

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Earlier this month, we sat down with Bishop John Dooher, Auxiliary Bishop of Boston, to discuss his connection with South Boston and Our Lady of Good Voyage Chapel. Also known as the Seaport Chapel, Our Lady of Good Voyage Chapel celebrated its final Mass April 16, Easter Sunday.

Bishop Dooher was born to parents Anthony and Brigid Dooher on May 3, 1943. Though he was raised in Dorchester, his family attended St. Peter's Church, and much of his extended family resided in South Boston.

"You can't live in Dorchester without spending time in Southie," he explained. "In South Boston then, there were closer to 72,000 people living in those three square miles, and, so, you were not going to find housing there. So my parents found a little place to rent in 'three-decker Dorchester.'"

He recalls frequent trips to South Boston, including accompanying his mother on visits to her family, and waiting near St. Augustine's church to watch the St. Patrick's Day parade each year during his childhood.

As a young man, Bishop Dooher attended St. John's Seminary in Brighton.

"As a seminarian, I worked one or two summers on L Street, in the L Street Bathhouse, doing lawns, sweeping, taking care of everyday things to raise some tuition for my first two years in the seminary. Because in those days the first college years you were expected to go out and get jobs in the summers and raise some of that tuition," he said.

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