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Priests honor three peers at convocation


Father Mark O'Connell, Father Thomas Nestor, and Msgr. John McDonough were honored for their service to the priesthood during the annual priest convocation May 3. Pilot photos/Gregory L. Tracy

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NORWOOD -- During the annual priest convocation, held May 3 at the Four Points by Sheraton in Norwood, three priests were honored for their service to the priesthood.

Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley and Father Robert M. Blaney, director of the Clergy Personnel Office, honored Father Mark O'Connell, Father Thomas Nestor, and Msgr. John McDonough during a ceremony that was originally set to take place after the March 22 Chrism Mass, but had to be delayed due to technical issues at the original venue.

Ordained in 1990, Father O'Connell served St. Barbara Parish in Woburn and St. Mary of the Annunciation in Danvers, and has held a number of positions in the Archdiocese of Boston that have utilized his training and understanding of canon law, including currently serving as judicial vicar.

Offering a few words of thanks, Father O'Connell remembered the late Bishop Daniel Hart and Father Charles Anadore, a former pastor in Woburn, noting that both used to send beautiful thank you cards.

To his fellow priests in attendance, he said they should "keep encouraging" the sending of thank you notes and other small, kind gestures.

"Let us love one another," he said.

Father Nestor, ordained in 1981, has served a variety of roles during his over 30 years of priesthood. He has served on the Archdiocese of Boston Metropolitan Tribunal and the Clergy Personnel Board, worked at St. John's Seminary as director of Human Formation and dean of students at the seminary college, and has been named vicar forane three times. Additionally, he served at St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Andover and St. Eulalia Parish in Winchester, and is currently the pastor of St. Paul Parish in Hingham.

"(I) had so many blessings in the priesthood, the assignments, even the experience of illness... I just think about the beautiful things people did for me, most especially praying" for me while I was sick, Father Nestor said.

"You just can't help but be grateful for countless blessings," he said.

Member of the ordination class of 1952, Msgr. McDonough has spent the last 64 years as a priest. He has Served St. Bridget Parish in Abington, St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Dracut, Our Lady of Grace Parish in Chelsea, St. John the Baptist Parish in Peabody, St. Agatha Parish in Middleton, and spent 29 years as a United States Airforce chaplain, the last three of which he was chief of chaplains. In addition, Msgr. McDonough served as interim secretary of Faith Formation for the archdiocese and priest liaison for the Implementation of Professional Oversight. In April of 1998 Pope St John Paul II named him a protonotary apostolic, the highest level of monsignor.

"I would show no wisdom for a priest of age unless I acknowledge today's recognition to me is truly being given to all my senior brother priests... I recognize the need to thank all the others in my life, whose faith has given light, forgiveness, and life to my journey," he said.

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