byJacqueline Tetrault Pilot Staff
Father Gabriel Troy Pilot file photo
BRAINTREE -- The newly appointed director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the Archdiocese of Boston, Father Gabriel Troy, brings a strong background in missions to his new position.
Father Troy began his new post in July, taking over from Msgr. William Fay, who had served as the director since 2016.
Perhaps the best known of The Pontifical Mission Societies is the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, which encourages awareness and support of missions around the world. However, the societies also include the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, which creates programs and infrastructure for new local priests, religious and sisters; and the Missionary Childhood Association, which teaches children about missionary work and encourages them to help other children around the world.
Father Troy joined the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle in 1967 and spent 27 years helping the poor in Peru. From 1989 to 1994 he served as the society's Country Coordinator and local superior in Peru. In 1994, his fellow priests elected him to become the director of the St. James Society.
Father Troy told The Pilot Aug. 8 that he felt the invitation to become Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies "was an honor for the St. James Society."
Though the Society of St. James the Apostle is not one of the three Pontifical Mission Societies, it shares some historical ties with them.
Cardinal Richard Cushing served as the head of the Pontifical Mission Societies from 1929 to 1944. He founded the St. James Society in 1958 in response to Pope Pius XII's call for more missionary priests to be sent to South American countries experiencing shortages of priests.
St. Pope John XXIII took this call a step further in 1959 by calling for North American bishops to send 10 percent of their diocesan priests to serve in Latin America. This was a radical move, as previously priests were expected to exclusively serve either a parish or the missions, not both.
In 2000 Father Troy left the missions and became a diocesan pastor, serving seven years at St. Joseph in Boston's West End and ten years at St. Mary of the Annunciation in Cambridge. In 2016 Cardinal Seán O'Malley presented him with the Cushing Medal for Excellence in Service to Humanity, an award given for service to the St. James Society.
Father Troy turned 75 in 2017, at which point he was granted retirement.
As he was getting used to this new phase of life, he said the invitation to become director of the Pontifical Mission Societies came as a complete surprise.
"I would certainly like to remind people that we're all called to mission," Father Troy said, adding, "I would hope to continue the great work that was done by Monsignor Fay. I have a list of those who were directors here at my desk, and there are some great men, so it's intimidating to try to follow on after them."
He admitted, "I feel a little nervous. I'd been out of the administration for years, since I left the Society. I was enjoying private life and retirement. But the cardinal asked; obviously he has some faith in me, so I'll do what I can."