Obituary: Msgr. Charles J. Bourque, longtime pastor in Jamaica Plain, former seminary professor
A priest of the archdiocese since his ordination on Feb. 2, 1962, Msgr. Charles J. Bourque died in Winchester on Aug. 23, 2023.
Born in Brockton, he was the older of the two sons of the late Joseph and Mary (Meuse) Bourque; he was predeceased (2020) by his younger brother James. An alumnus of Brockton High School, he entered St. John Seminary in 1954 at Cardinal O'Connell Minor Seminary in Jamaica Plain and completed both philosophy and theology studies at St. John Seminary Brighton.
Auxiliary Bishop Jeremiah Minihan ordained him to the priesthood at St. Catherine of Siena Church, Norwood, on Feb. 2, 1962. In 1962, as happened in other years, there were multiple ordinations to accommodate the large ordination classes. In addition to Msgr. Bourque's groups at Norwood, there were Ordination Masses at the Cathedral with Richard Cardinal Cushing ordaining; at St. Margaret of Scotland, Lowell, with Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Riley; and at St. Stephen, Framingham, with Auxiliary Bishop Eric F. MacKenzie.
After a single year at his first assignment as an assistant at St. Pius Tenth, Milton, Father Bourque was back at Cardinal O'Connell Seminary, teaching French. For the next 16 years, he was on the faculty of either Cardinal O'Connell or at the college department on St. John's Brighton campus. Initially, he was teaching French but later, as it became more in demand, he took on Spanish as well. He had received a master of arts degree in modern languages from Boston College.
During his faculty years, he also mentored a group of aspiring fire department chaplains. One of the well-known "sparks," he and other priests and seminarians monitored fire alarms within Route 128. And responded according to a well-ordered system based on the number of alarms and the distance from Brighton. Alarms in the Brighton area were always responded to; while "all outs" no matter where in the archdiocese got the same response, day or night was irrelevant, except for Mass and class times.
In 1979, he went back to Jamaica Plain, this time as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, now becoming increasingly Hispanic in population. In 1980, he was named pastor of the parish, where he would serve until being named a senior priest in 2008. From 1989 until his retirement, he was also the vicar forane of Vicariate I in the Central Region.
He was omnipresent in the parish and worked diligently to keep the parish grammar school going. Both made him loved and in demand at the parish.
In April 1998, Pope St. John Paul II named him a prelate of honor with the title of Reverend Monsignor. While he was certainly honored, the parishioners were delighted.
Following his retirement he lived in residence at St. John the Evangelist, Canton, and assisted there and in other parishes really across the archdiocese. In 2018, he moved to Regina Cleri Residence in Boston's West End, from where he continued to assist in parishes, including Jamaica Plain until very recently.
He experienced decline in health and was hospitalized for several weeks prior to his Aug. 23 death.
Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley was the principal celebrant of Msgr. Bourque's funeral Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes, Jamaica Plain, on Aug. 31, 2023. The homilist for the Mass was Msgr. Bourque's classmate, longtime friend, and onetime fellow seminary faculty member, Father John E. Farrell, senior priest in Dracut.
Following the funeral Mass, Msgr. Bourque was buried with his parents in Calvary Cemetery, Brockton.