Former pastor of Sacred Heart-St. John's Senior Priest Wallace Blackwood (left) and retired Salem pastor Father Tim Murphy (center) disembarking from Regina Cleri bus for "the Father Jack Clergy Cookout." Courtesy photo
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Seven years ago Father Jack Gentleman recognized in Manchester-by-the-Sea a unique opportunity to honor the senior priests of the Archdiocese of Boston, especially those confined to Regina Cleri, the priest retirement residence in Boston's West End.
Accordingly, he proposed to parishioners of Sacred Heart and St. John's that they sponsor and host a cookout at the Tucks Point Chowder House to give the retired priests, many elderly and infirm, an enjoyable "day away" on the North Shore at beautiful Tucks Point adjacent to Manchester Harbor.
For the past seven years parishioners have volunteered their time and efforts to make the cookout a success. Also supported by Masconomo Council 1232 Knights of Columbus, each year dozens of retired priests have been drawn to the Father Jack Gentleman inspired event.
Father Gentleman died in January 2015, but his tribute outing for retired priests continues and is now called the Father Jack Clergy Cookout. Father Paul Flammia, his friend and successor as pastor/administrator of the two parishes hosted this year's cookout at the Chowder House.
"The clear bright blue skies and sunny weather were perfect for the cookout" noted Father Flammia. "This outing is a much awaited day out and reunion for these retired priests, who served long in the vineyard. Many were Father Jack's mentors and inspiration on his faith journey. For their long service and commitment to God and their faith communities, they are also my role models. The parishes of Sacred Heart and St. John are pleased to give them this "thank you" and this annual outing to enjoy the tranquil beauty of Tucks Point. It is our privilege to welcome these good men. We thank all who made the event a memorable success."
Father Flammia continued, "This year we were pleased to welcome retired priests who enjoyed our cookout, but we were especially delighted to greet former pastors, Father Wallace Blackwood and Father James Harrington, respected priests much missed as shepherds to their flocks in Manchester-by the Sea and Essex. It was great to see them both as well as Father Joe Fagan, who is familiar to many as a former weekend assistant to the parishes."
He noted cookout guests included Father Gerald Petringa, Episcopal Vicar for the North Region, Father Ron Gariboldi of Holy Family Collaborative in Gloucester, and Father Tim Murphy the former pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Salem.
Tom Finn, Grand Knight Masconomo Council 1232 Knights of Columbus, pointed out The 7th Annual Father Jack Clergy Cookout drew support from both parishes and from throughout the Cape Ann communities.
"These men, many now slowed by advanced age and ill health, were once vigorous leaders in parish life and academia living and preaching the Word of God for the betterment of man. These cookouts are but a small token of respect to salute their service," said Finn.