Boston GlobeCorrection Appended
August 1, 2007
Rev. James Lane, police chaplain, pastor
by J.M. Lawrence Globe Correspondent
For more than 30 years, the Rev. James H. Lane was the voice of comfort to police officers, their families, and countless people who took solace in the presence of the thin, prematurely gray priest from South Boston.
Named the Boston Police Department's first chaplain in 1972, the affable priest rode in cruisers, heard officers' confessions, and ministered to victims of Logan International Airport's worst air crash in 1973, when 89 people died.
Yesterday, Father Lane's body was brought home to St. Brendan Church in South Boston, where he had served for 34 years, to the sounds of drums and bagpipes played by the Boston Police Gaelic Column.
He died of cancer July 28 at Marian Manor in South Boston. He was 74.
"Wherever I have served, it is the faith of the people that stands out," Father Lane told The Pilot, the newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, in 2001, when he retired. "They love their faith and their families. They go out of their way to be supportive, and they vitalize the church."
The son of a wholesale hardware salesman, Father Lane grew up in the shadow of St. Augustine Church in South Boston, where he would finish his career. His mother died when he was 11, and he was deeply influenced by several priests who comforted the family, he told The Pilot.
His father, Herbert, emigrated from County Cork in Ireland and his mother, Catherine (King), came from County Galway.
"The archdiocese has been blessed by Fr. James Lane's ministry since his ordination in 1962," Cardinal Sean O'Malley said in a statement. "He was particularly proud of his work serving the brave men and women of the Boston Police Department, who mourn his passing, as well."
Father Lane graduated from South Boston High School in 1952, where he was on the track team and played second base on the baseball team. He joined the US Army and entered the seminary after returning to Boston.
He served at St. Paul's Parish in Dorchester from 1962 to 1969. He went to St. Brendan's Parish in 1969, where he was associate pastor and served as pastor from 1982 until 1996.
"He is the spirit of St. Brendan's; he was the catalyst that kept us all together," said Boston City Council President Maureen Feeney, a parish member. "He was so Christlike and filled with peace. No matter what the situation, he was always the rock. He was truly a gift to all of us."
The new parish hall was named after Father Lane, and he often returned to officiate at weddings, christenings, and funeral Masses.
He also served as chaplain of Roxbury Juvenile Court, Boston Juvenile Court, the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, the Boston Police Emerald Society, the South Boston Irish American Society and the Retired Boston Police Officer's Association.
After leaving St. Brendan's in 1996, he served as parochial vicar at St. Augustine's until his retirement six years ago.
He also was a member of the board of directors of Cops for Kids with Cancer. "Father Lane was ready to go home and see his mother, and had no fear of death," said his friend Robert P. Faherty, president of Cops for Kids and a retired police superintendent.
Father Lane leaves four sisters, Helen C. Kehoe of Waltham, Marilyn R. Putney of Dedham, Rosemary of Florida, and Karen of Newton and New Hampshire; and two brothers, Timothy of Utah and Kevin of Saugus.
Cardinal O'Malley will say a funeral Mass at 10 a.m. today at St. Brendan Church. Burial will be in New Calvary Cemetery in Dorchester.
CORRECTION-DATE: August 2, 2007
Because of an editing error, yesterday's obituary of the Rev. James Lane included an incorrect location for St. Brendan's Church in Dorchester.