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Obituary: Father Richard P. Wasnewski, former pastor in Ashland


Father Richard Wasnewski Pilot file photo

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A senior priest of the archdiocese since his retirement 23 years ago, Father Richard Wasnewski died in his hometown of Medway on Oct. 23, 2019. He was born on May 2, 1927, son of Chester and Ceslawa (Malachowski) Wasnewski. He attended local school and after graduation, he commuted from Medway to Boston College from which he received a BA in American History.

He entered St. John Seminary as a member of the Class of 1954; however, he was ordained by Archbishop Richard Cushing at Holy Cross Cathedral on Sept. 29, 1953, thus making him a member of the so called "second class of '53." The reason for the earlier ordination was the increasing number of priestly vocations and the shortage of space at the seminary.

Following ordination, he was appointed an assistant at St. Jerome Parish in Arlington. For the next three decades, he would serve as an assistant or an associate at archdiocesan parishes: St. Mary of the Nativity, Scituate (1955-1959); Sacred Heart, Medford (1959-1961); St. Zepherin, Wayland (1961-1965); St. Mary of the Assumption, Revere (1965); St. Catherine of Genoa, Somerville (1965-1975); and St. James, Medford (1975-1986).

Humberto Cardinal Medeiros named him pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in Ashland in 1986 and he served there until 1992. Bernard Cardinal law accepted his resignation and named him a senior priest. At the time, Father Wasnewski, reflecting on his priestly journey, said that his parish priests in Medway were a great influence on his vocational choice; one in particular he named, the late Father James A. O'Donohoe, who would later be on the seminary faculty.

Immensely proud of his Polish heritage, it was not until he retired that he was assigned to a Polish Personal Parish. Shortly after he became a senior priest, he returned briefly (five years!) to be administrator of St. Peter (Polish) Parish in Norwood.

In 1997, when he really retired, he moved to Carmel Terrace in Framingham; from where he continued to assist in parishes. He returned to Medway in later years and lived at Medway Manor, where he died on Oct. 23, 2019.

West Regional Bishop Robert Reed was to be the celebrant of Father Wasnewski's funeral Mass at his home parish, St. Joseph, Medway, on Oct. 29. The parish's present pastor, Msgr. Timothy J. Moran was to be the homilist.

Father Wasnewski is survived by his sister, Joan Shropshire of Millis. Following his funeral Mass, he was buried in St. Joseph Cemetery, Medway.

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