The Rev. Patrick Francis Healy, the beloved chaplain of the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home for several years, died Wednesday at Cambridge Hospital. He was 100 years old.
The Rev. Healy grew up in Charlestown and graduated from Boston English in 1939. He served in the United States Armed Forces for 23 years, with stops in Japan, Germany, South Korea, and two tours of duty in Vietnam. He was the recipient of three Bronze Stars and the ‘V’ Device for heroism and valor.
Mr. Healy was ordained to the priesthood on June 2, 1947, one day after his 26th birthday. He served as the chaplain of the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home for more than two decades, becoming a source of inspiration for his fellow veterans who were residents of the Soldiers’ Home. He presided over the services at St. Michael’s Chapel with distinction, showcasing his keen intellect, his knowledge of veterans’ issues, and noteworthy wit in his sermons. He made it a point to personally welcome each member of the congregation, while always knowing the members’ seating arrangements.
Secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services Cheryl Lussier, who is a former superintendent of the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, former state representative Gene O’Flaherty, and Eucharistic minister and lector Frank Kowalski were among the state and local community leaders paying tribute to the Rev. Healy.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Reverend Father Patrick Healy, who was much beloved within the Chelsea community,” said Sec. Lussier. “Father Healy was a friend and confidant to many at the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea, and a pillar in the community. From his unique perspective as a veteran himself Father Healy offered spiritual guidance to many residents of the Home, and we are deeply grateful for the profound support and comfort he has provided over these many years.”
O’Flaherty, a prominent attorney and former chief counsel to Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, was the master of ceremonies at the Rev. Healy’s 100th birthday celebration that was held inside St. Michael’s Chapel last spring. It was a joyous occasion attended by Rev. Healy’s family, friends, members of the congregation, state and local officials, and staff.
Said Gene O’Flaherty Wednesday in a beautiful tribute to his friend, “He was a man of God, a veteran, and a rock to our family. He buried my father and mother and always taught us that life here is temporary and Christ has a better place for us after doing His work here on earth. He will be missed by Patricia and me and countless others that are fortunate to have the finger of God bring him into their lives.”
Kowalski, a lifelong Chelsea resident, also offered fond memories of the outstanding clergyman and popular, spiritual leader of the congregation.
“Father Healy was very well liked by everyone,” said Kowalski. “He was an exceptional man. He made everyone feel comfortable all the time. He always knew where everyone sat in the church when he spoke. It’s going to be a big loss at the Chapel. He is going to be missed dearly by the entire congregation.”
There will be a funeral Mass for the Rev. Patrick Healy on Monday, Jan. 17 at 11 a.m. at St. Michael’s Chapel. Visitation will begin at 9 a.m.