Rev. Joseph A. Coonan

Telegram & Gazette
October 12, 2011

The Reverend Joseph A. Coonan died on Friday, October 7, 2011 at St. Vincent's Hospital in Worcester. He was born on November 1, 1947 in Worcester, MA son of the late Joseph G. Coonan. His mother, Mabel G. (Pruneau) Coonan, passed away Tuesday, October 11, 2011. He leaves his devoted sister Patricia Ann (Coonan) Loiselle, as well as extended family members, Godchildren, and students.

A graduate of Oxford High School, he then studied at the College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester, St. Francis College in Loreto, PA and Assumption College, in Worcester. He earned his M.A. Degree from Assumption College in Counseling Psychology, and his M.Div. Degree from Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, MA. While at the seminary, he received the coveted Massachusetts Bible Society Award for proclaiming scripture. He completed his clinical pastoral education at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Brighton, MA and at Westborough State Hospital. Advanced studies were completed at Tufts University and Clark University.

Fr. Coonan taught Latin I & II, English and Psychology at Oxford High School for eight years. He went on to teach at Becker College in Leicester, where he received, the student voted, faculty award on four occasions; he also received three yearbook dedications. On two occasions he gave the major commencement address for both campuses. He was also the recipient of the President's Medal of Honor at Becker. He also taught at Assumption College in the undergraduate psychology and the graduate school of Religious Studies as well as the continuing education programs. At Assumption College, Fr. Joe received the Faculty Excellence Award on three occasions and was chosen by the students to deliver the faculty baccalaureate address at the senior dinner. Fr. Coonan also preached at the baccalaureate address at St. Paul's Cathedral.

Fr. Coonan was ordained a Priest on June 3, 1989 by Bishop Timothy J. Harrington and was then assigned as Associate Pastor of St. Paul's Parish in Worcester, where he served for five years. Following that assignment, Bishop Harrington assigned Fr. Coonan to St. John's Parish in Worcester as administrator and later as Pastor. When Bishop Harrington retired as Bishop of Worcester, he chose to live at St. John's on Temple Street, where he worked with Fr. Coonan, Fr. Anthony Dai, Fr. Joe Pijanowski, Fr. Jean-Paul Gagnon and Msgr. Edmond Tinsley in sacramental outreach.

While at St. John's, Fr. Coonan introduced a convenient Mass schedule as well as 24 hour a day confessions. All requests for Baptisms, Confirmation and the Sacraments were honored with question. Fr. Coonan also taught at the former Central New England College in Worcester and Westborough and the St. Vincent Hospital School of Nursing, where the senior class presented him with a chalice on the day of his ordination to the Priesthood.

A world traveler, Fr. Coonan brought many groups to Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Portugal. Some say that no one knew the stories of the West Coast of Ireland like Fr. Coonan, and no one knew where the shanachies (story tellers) were hiding like Fr. Coonan.

Fr. Coonan also received the Clergy of the Year award from the Worcester Magazine for four consecutive years.

Calling hours for Fr. Coonan and his mother, Mabel, will be held on Friday, October 14, from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. in MERCADANTE FUNERAL HOME & CHAPEL, 370 Plantation Street, Worcester. A wake service will be held at 7 PM.

Their Funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, October 15, at 10 a.m. in St. Roch Church, 332 Main Street in Oxford. Interment will follow in St. Roch Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations are to be made to: Justice for Priests and Deacons, PO Box 87225, San Diego, CA 92738-7225.

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