Outspoken former Stoughton, Bridgewater priest defrocked

In the early days of the clergy sex abuse scandal, the Rev. Thomas Maguire said then-Cardinal Bernard Law should resign. Now Maguire, who served in Stoughton and Bridgewater among his eight posts, has been defrocked himself.

By Lane Lambert

Soon after the first criminal sex-abuse cases against Boston Archdiocese priests became public in 2002, the Rev. Thomas H. Maguire was among the first to say then-Cardinal Bernard Law should resign – and he said so from the pulpit of St. Helen Mother of Emperor Constantine Church in Norwell, where he was pastor.

Former Norwell pastor Thomas H. Maguire has been defrocked by the Vatican.
Former Norwell pastor Thomas H. Maguire has been defrocked by the Vatican.

Now Maguire, who also served in Stoughton and Bridgewater among his eight posts, has been defrocked himself after the Archdiocese and the Vatican decided that Maguire did abuse a minor decades ago.

Archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon announced Thursday that the Vatican had dismissed Maguire “from the clerical state,” so he can no longer act “in any function as a priest.”

He’s the first priest with South Shore ties to be defrocked since 2011.

Maguire – who grew up in Dorchester and Milton – had been on voluntary administrative leave from St. Helen’s since October 2012, when he was accused of inappropriate sexual conduct in the presence of minors.

At that time Norwell Police Chief Ted Ross said the reported incident had occurred within the week before it was reported.

Donilon said police and the Archdiocese got a number of other accusations after Maguire’s leave was publicized. Those accusations were from the mid-1990s and earlier.

The statute of limitations has expired for criminal investigations in those cases, but Donilon said the church conducted its own investigation and found that Maguire was guilty in one case.

“We are grateful to the victims who had the strength to come forward,” Donilon said.

Maguire’s family lived in Dorchester and then Milton. He attended Boston College High and graduated from Boston College in 1971. He attended St. John’s Seminiary in Brighton and was ordained in 1976.

At St. John’s he became friends with future Bishop Richard Lennon, who was appointed as the Archdiocese administrator in the wake of Cardinal’s Law’s 2002 resignation. Bishop Lennon now leads the Cleveland diocese.

Maguire’s first parish assignment was assistant pastor at Sacred Heart in Quincy, until 1978. From then until 1998 he was assistant pastor in Dedham, Watertown, Stoughton, Westwood, Canton, Bridgewater and Needham.

Those assignments included the now-closed Our Lady Of Rosary in Stoughton and St. John the Evangelist in Canton.

He was pastor at the now-closed St. Jeremiah in Framingham from 1998 to 2001, and from there was assigned to St. Helen’s in Norwell, in September 2001. He was there until he went on voluntary administrative leave in 2012.

In 2002, reports surfaced that a previously unassigned priest, the Rev. Gerald Hickey, was working with Maguire at St. Helen’s, even though Hickey was barred from unsupervised contact with children. Maguire said he didn’t know of the Archdiocese restriction.

Hickey was removed from pastoral assignments in 1994 and had been at St. Helen’s since 1996.

In 2005 The Patriot Ledger asked Maguire how the clergy abuse scandal had affected Mass attendance at St. Helen’s, Maguire said it temporarily dipped but recovered.

“There’s a residue of anxiety and distrust towards the (church) hierarchy,“ Maguire said. Then he added, “I think in most parishes, the people remained loyal to the parish, the place where they practice their faith week in and week out.”

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