Obituary: Father Russell Guarcello, archdiocese’s fifth oldest priest

When Russell V. Guarcello was born on Dec. 23, 1915, Benedict XV was the pope, when he died on July 17, 2008 Benedict XVI was the pope. In the intervening 92 years, there were six popes and 16 American presidents. That long stretch of history covered by the life of Father Guarcello began with his birth in Quincy. He was one of seven children of the late Joseph and Jenny (Botta) Guarcello. He was preceded in death by his siblings Nancy Cascio, Grace Salvaggio, Alma Maglio, and brothers Dominic, Louis and Mario.

A son of St. John the Baptist Parish, he attended the Quincy parish’s elementary school and Quincy High School. With his eyes set on Boston College, he completed a “post-graduate year” at Boston College High School and graduated from Boston College in the Class of 1939.

Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Cushing ordained him to the priesthood at Holy Cross Cathedral on Oct. 28, 1943. He was a member of the last class from St. John Seminary ordained while William Cardinal O’Connell was still Boston’s archbishop.

All of Father Guarcello’s priestly ministry would be spent in archdiocesan parishes. His facility with the Italian language of his family and ancestors targeted him for assignments in parishes across the archdiocese that had high numbers of Italian-speaking parishioners.

He served as an assistant at St. Mary, Plymouth (1943-1946); St. Clement, Medford (1946-1947); St. Patrick, Watertown ((1947-1948); St. Mary (Italian), Salem (1948-1951); St. Anthony of Padua (Italian), Revere (1951-1960); Sacred Heart, Watertown (1960-1964); and Immaculate Conception, Malden (1964-1970).

Richard Cardinal Cushing named him pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Amesbury on Jan. 19, 1970, and he served there for 18 years, retiring on Jan. 15, 1988. Following his “retirement,’’ he lived in Braintree and continuing his parish-focused priestly ministry he assisted at two South Region parishes: St. Joseph, Holbrook and St. Clare, Braintree.

He was a fisherman and according to reports not just of bass and blue fish, but sought larger challenges as with a marlin or two.

South Region Bishop John Dooher was the principal celebrant of Father Guarcello’s funeral Mass celebrated at St. Clare, Braintree on July 21. The parish’s pastor, Father Paul Sughrue, served as the homilist. Concelebrating with Bishop Dooher and Father Sughrue were Central Regional Bishop Robert Hennessey, Fathers Gerard Brennan, Thomas Keane and James McCune, all of Regina Cleri, and Father Joseph Raeke, St. Thomas Aquinas, Bridgewater and Father Robert Kickham Secretary to Cardinal O’Malley.

Father Guarcello is survived by a host of nieces and nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews. He was buried in Pine Hill Cemetery, Quincy.