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Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley has accepted the request of Father Paul Phinn to retire as pastor of St. John Chrysostom Parish in Boston’s West Roxbury section.
Father Phinn is a native of Boston where he was born on Jan. 16, 1931. He was one of two sons of the late Henry and Florence (Kelley) Phinn, both of who became priests of the archdiocese. Father Paul’s brother, Father Gilbert Phinn died suddenly on Feb. 19, 2005 while serving as pastor of St. Elizabeth Parish in Milton.
A proud son of St. Theresa of Avila Parish in West Roxbury, Father Phinn attended Boston Public schools and was graduated from the Boston Latin School.
His initial studies for the priesthood were undertaken at Maryknoll College in New Jersey and at Maryknoll’s seminary in New York. He entered St. John Seminary, and as a member of the Class of 1957 he was ordained for the archdiocese by Boston auxiliary Bishop Jeremiah Minihan. The ordination was celebrated on Feb. 2 at Holy Name Church, the neighbor of Father Phinn’s home parish. Some years later Bishop Minihan would become pastor of St. Theresa’s.
The reason for the ordination’s site and ordaining bishop was that there were too many men to be ordained at one ceremony by then Archbishop Cushing at the Cathedral. Thus for a number of years the classes were divided and ordinations were celebrated simultaneously in two or three of the larger parishes across the archdiocese with the auxiliary bishops as the ordaining prelates.
Father Phinn’s priestly assignments as an assistant or an associate in the archdiocese have been only a few and have not been too far from Boston proper: St. Albert the Great, Weymouth (1957-1963); St. John the Evangelist, Winthrop (1963-1978); and St. Mary of the Hills, Milton (1978-1985). His only appointment as pastor has been in Boston at St. John Chrysostom where he has been pastor for 20 years, since Sept. 10, 1985.
His West Roxbury parish is surrounded by some of the larger parishes in the archdiocese. Before the more recent population changes and demographic shifts it was “dwarfed” by neighboring Sacred Heart, Roslindale; Holy Name and St. Theresa of Avila, West Roxbury and St. Mary, Dedham.
During Father Phinn’s tenure the parish has grown in size and spirit. He has guided its renewal in programs and services and overseen the expansion of the physical facilities. During the past several years Father Phinn has been ably assisted and supported in his busy parish by Columban Father Charles Flaherty whose sense of humor and constant presence have been a source of encouragement for Father Phinn and his people.
Father Phinn will complete his service at St. John Parish and become a senior priest of the archdiocese when a new pastor is named for the parish.