Father William J. English Pilot file photo
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One of the more colorful and gregarious priests of the archdiocese, Father William J. English was granted senior priest/retirement status on Oct. 15.
A native of Tipperary, Ireland, he completed seminary studies at St. John's, Brighton and subsequently he was ordained to the priesthood at Holy Cross Cathedral on Feb. 2, 1960 by Richard Cardinal Cushing.
During just a bit more than 50 years of active priestly ministry, he has been in only four parish assignments. Immediately following ordination he was named an assistant at Blessed Sacrament in Boston's Jamaica Plain Section. Father James O'Leary who was a deacon at the parish said "He was great to live with. I always worried about his asking me to find something in his room. Apparently less was more as far as organization was concerned. At the same time he never actually seemed to have lost anything." His assignment in Jamaica Plain ended in 1970 when he was named an associate at St. Brigid in South Boston. He was almost 12 years in this assignment and was immensely popular in the parish...the brogue helped in Southie!
In 1982 he began an almost nine year stint as an associate at Hyde Park's Most Precious Blood parish where he was an assistant to Central Regional Bishop Lawrence Riley. This move caused not a few laughs among the priests of the archdiocese who wondered both to Bishop Riley and to Father English how "they'd get along?" Suffice it to say that if we searched we probably could not find two more opposite personalities. The bishop was quiet, reserved, diplomatic and traditional, though not lacking a wry sense of humor; Father English is boisterous, outgoing, and also traditional; that meeting point seemed to make for the good mix.
After an amazing 31 years as an assistant in three Boston parishes, Father English was named pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament parish in Quincy's Houghs Neck section. For 14 years he was pastor of a single parish; in 2005 he was named pastor of the newly formed Holy Trinity parish which brought together St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in the Merrymount section, which itself had previously been the merger of Our Lady of Good Counsel (Merrymount) and St. Boniface (Germantown). In no small measure it was Father Williams' great priestly heart that made the trying transition a bit easier on all involved.
Up until this point both Father English and his many friends, priests and lay, saw him vigorous and willing to go on in the Quincy parish for several more years. Then, about a year ago his health took a turn for the worse and he suffered a series of additional problems including one while visiting his ancestral home in Ireland. This led to his submitting his request for senior priest status which Cardinal O'Malley granted in October.
One of the families with whom he had become particularly close at St. Brigid in South Boston was the DiPerri's. Parishioners at Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted in Waltham will understand a bit better that the reason Father English is in residence at their parish rectory since his return from hospitalization is that "DiPerri Connection." Both Father Jim DiPerri, his sister a nurse and indeed all his family have been extraordinarily attentive to Father English.