Obituary: Msgr. Edmund Sviokla, former Everett pastor

A great model and mentor for priests, a priest who was held in esteem by contemporaries, classmates, collaborators and fellow residents at Regina Cleri, Msgr. Edmund J. Sviokla died in Boston on May 29.

Born in Brockton on Sept. 3, 1926, he was the youngest of five children of the late Sylvester and Constance Sviokla. One child died in infancy. The family had a strong faith and his father owned and operated a grocery store in the Boxer City known for selling the “best rye bread in the city.”

He graduated from Brockton High School in 1944, as a proud son of St. Rocco, now St. Casimir, Parish in Brockton. He entered St. John’s Seminary in 1945 and Archbishop Richard Cushing ordained him to the priesthood on April 11, 1951 at Holy Cross Cathedral. Among his ordination classmates were three other sons of Brockton.

Following his ordination he was appointed as an assistant at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Allston. He told The Pilot at his retirement that the priests in the house taught him much of what he really needed to know about being a priest. They must have been great teachers because during Msgr. Sviokla’s tenure at the Allston parish his example spurred the vocations of a number of archdiocesan and religious order priests, proud sons of the parish, prouder still of “Svi’s” influence.

He subsequently served as and assistant or an associate at St. George, Framingham (1960-1962); St. Thomas Aquinas, Jamaica Plain (1962-1970) and St. John the Baptist (1970-1972).

On Feb. 15, 1972 Archbishop Medeiros named him administrator of St. Patrick Parish, Roxbury, in 1975 he was named as a Coordinator of the Archdiocesan Stewardship Appeal and on June 21, 1977, Cardinal Medeiros named him pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Everett.

No stranger to a challenge, he worked to strengthen the parish school and erected the new parish center. At Everett priests and people, deacons and religious benefited from his priestly zeal and example and his rather imposing presence, physical and spiritual.

In April 1998 Pope John Paul II named him a member of the pontifical household, designating him prelate of honor with the title of reverend monsignor. He was granted senior priest retirement status on July 1, 2001.

Although he had some health problems, he was still active and agile at 81. He was among the concelebrants at the golden jubilee of Father James McCune on May 18 at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton and seemed as gregarious as ever. He suffered a major stroke at Regina Cleri just a few days later and was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital, the stroke though had taken its toll -- he could no longer speak and he was paralyzed on his left side. Thus even at 81 his death was a “shock.”

North Regional Bishop Francis Irwin was the principal celebrant of Msgr. Sviokla’s funeral Mass celebrated June 2 at Immaculate Conception Church, Everett. Father John Mulloy, a close friend and onetime collaborator with Msrg. Sviokla at Roxbury was the homilist. Among the concelebrants were: Central Regional Bishop Robert Hennessey; retired auxiliary John Boles, Msgr. James Tierney, Regina Cleri; North Region Vicariate IV’s vicar, Father Richard Mehm, the parish’s present pastor, Father Gerald Osterman, and senior priest, Father Arthur Driscoll.

Msgr. Sviokla is survived by his brother Sylvester of Marshfield and his sister Julia Guymont, of Wellesley. He was buried in Calvary Cemetery, Brockton.