March 11, 2019 – Fr. Charles B. Connolly, SJ, was born, on Dec. 16, 1945, in Medford, Mass., one of the cities and towns that ring the city of Boston. He and his two sisters were the children of John and Mary (O’Brien) Connolly.
The family moved to nearby Arlington and Fr. Connolly attended the parish grammar school there and B.C. High, a long commute to the other side of Boston. When he graduated, in 1963, he entered the Shadowbrook novitiate, where he spent four years, completing the novitiate and juniorate studies. Fr. Connolly spent two years studying philosophy, not at Weston College like generations of New England Jesuits before him, but in the Jesuit philosophy program at Boston College (1967-1969). For regency he taught French at B.C. High for two years. In 1971, he went to Rome for theology studies at the Gregorian University, living in the Society’s international community adjacent to the Church of the Gesù. Three years later, he returned to the New England Province for ordination. Then he spent a year living in the Weston community while he finished the requirements for his theology degree.
Summers he pursued a master’s degree in administration at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., which was awarded in 1975. This led to his serving as assistant to the academic vice president at Creighton (1975-1976). For the next six years he worked at the College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester, Mass., first as minister of the Jesuit community, then as director of resident students. He became a campus celebrity when, on a dare, he became a contestant on “The Wheel of Fortune,” a popular TV show.
In 1982, he moved into the field of institutional development and administration, where he was to spend most of his subsequent Jesuit life. He worked in fund raising at B.C. High from 1982-1986. He spent five years as president of Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine. He worked as minister and treasurer of the community at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif. He also worked in fund-raising work at the Jesuit Urban Center in Boston.
For the better part of the last 20 years, Fr. Connolly worked in the advancement office of his home province. This work began with the New England Province and continued after the creation of the USA Northeast Province in 2014. At the time of his death, he was director of donor relations in the office of province advancement.
In addition to his work in Jesuit ministries, Fr. Connolly regularly assisted in parishes throughout the archdiocese and had a wide circle of friends among the diocesan clergy. He was active in the Knights of Columbus. In 1990, superiors sent him to spend four months as director of the retreat house/villa of the Jamaican Jesuits at Mammee Bay.
In recent years, congestive heart failure and kidney disease were constant threats. Yet even in the midst of his own health crises, those who knew him said, he was less preoccupied with himself than with the pastoral care of the nurses and doctors and hospital staff around him.
Fr. Connolly died at Lahey Clinic, in Boston, late in the evening of March 9, 2019.