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Obituary: Father Lawrence Drennan former Lincoln and Bridgewater pastor

Father Lawrence J. Drennan Pilot file photo

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South Regional Bishop John Dooher, joined by almost 50 priests, was the principal celebrant of the Funeral Mass of Father Lawrence J. Drennan at St. Joseph Church, Medford on Aug. 18. The two had been friends and fellow "Singing Priests" since their days together at St. Francis Xavier in Weymouth.

Shy, quiet or retiring were never to be applied to Larry Drennan. Always gregarious and entertaining he loved people and the virtually full church at Medford for his Funeral Mass was further testimony to his lasting and enduring relationships established over his lifetime.

Born in Hempstead, N.Y. on July 27, 1931 a son of Richard and Margaret (Murray) Drennan, the family moved to Medford where Larry attended local schools and on graduation from Medford High he enrolled at Boston College from which he was graduated in 1953. He bled maroon and gold from his first day at The Heights. He entered the US Army and on return to civilian life he took refresher courses in Latin at St. Philip Neri Seminary, Boston prior to entering St. John Seminary, Brighton in 1957.

Ordained at St. James Church, Salem on Feb. 2, 1961 by Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Riley, who had been the rector of the seminary in Larry's student days, he was assigned as an assistant at Blessed Sacrament in Quincy's Hough's Neck section. Six years later he went to Wilmington as an assistant at St. Dorothy Parish. In 1974 he was assigned as an associate at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Weymouth where among the many other duties he and other associates shared, he with then Father John Dooher and several other priests hatched the idea of "Singing Priests". The group became highly sought after for concerts and appearances at parish events across the archdiocese.

In 1984, he was appointed a parochial vicar at St. Bartholomew in Needham and less than a year later he was named pastor of St. Joseph, Lincoln. The small parish was the perfect fit for Larry's huge personality and effusive style. He relished detailing the story of the visit of George Herbert Walker Bush to a funeral at the church; Larry had him in for coffee and subsequently memorialized the visit with a brass plaque set into the chair the former president had used. As with many other events in his life, it gave rise to a story which grew over time.

In January 1997, he was named pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Bridgewater which included responsibility for the chaplaincy at Bridgewater State University. Always at ease and relating well to young people this gave him a new lease on life.

In June 2005, he was granted senior priest retirement status, and he was anything but retried, as anyone would tell you. Constantly on the go, assisting at parishes, bringing guests to the Boston College Club in Downtown Boston, visiting family and friends he had made over the years he was as tireless as he was omnipresent. The senior years gave him more time for his lifelong passion of golf having been a member of the team at Medford High he was on the links as often as possible.

At his Funeral Mass a volume of his Breviary, the Liturgy of the Hours, was placed on his casket. The particular volume was filled with Larry's notes and comments on the psalms and readings in the book and was well marked with many memorial cards of deceased priests and friends.

Father Patrick McLaughlin former administrator of Larry's home parish, St. Joseph was the homilist of the Funeral Mass. Among the concelebrants with Bishop Dooher and Father McLaughlin were Merrimack Regional Bishop Robert Hennessey; former Auxiliary Bishop (also a native son of St. Joseph, Medford) Walter Edyvean; St. Joseph's present pastor, Father Edward Doughty; neighboring pastors Father Richard Mehm (member of the Singing Priests) of Immaculate Conception, Malden and Father Kevin Toomey, St. Raphael, Medford.

Priest formerly assigned to St. Francis, Weymouth were much in evidence: Father Richard "Doc" Conway, Eugene Sullivan and Richard DeVeer; representing the fellow golfers and contemporaries were Fathers James Caniff, Lawrence Rondeau and Edwin Condon. From the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center were Fathers Kevin Sepe, Robert Blaney, Robert Kickham, and John Schatzel.

The Funeral Mass itself bore Larry's fingerprints inviting everyone to participate actively especially in singing, the parish choirs and music ministers gave voice to the liturgy "just as Larry would have liked" and "as it should be" Larry would have added.

Father Drennan is survived by his sister, Ann Forsyth, Germantown, Tenn. and a brother Robert of Medford. Following the Funeral Mass Father Drennan was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Medford.

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