History of our Parish
REVEREND JOHN J. SCANLON
On June 23, 1951, Saint Cecilia became a parish and welcomed Reverend John J. Scanlon as its first pastor. As a new pastor, Father Scanlon witnessed the post-war era building boom in Wilbraham. He ministered to 800 parishioners in 1951. By 1958, the parish doubled in size. On November 22, 1958, the Feast of Saint Cecilia, the second Church was consecrated by Bishop Christopher J. Weldon, Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, MA. Under Father Scanlon’s leadership, Saint Cecilia Parish continued to grow and expand its ministries and programs.
REVEREND FRANCIS J. SULLIVAN
Reverend Sullivan, a Holyoke native, served as Pastor from 1967 to 1970.
REVEREND JAMES P. SEARS
The third Pastor of Saint Cecilia Parish, Rev. James P. Sears, brought to Saint Cecilia his great love for music. As former Director of the Diocesan Priests’ Choir and Music Director at Cathedral High School, Father Sears oversaw the design and installation of a new pipe organ built by Wilbraham native, Theodore Gilbert. Reverend Sears served as pastor of St. Cecilia Church from 1970 until 1988.
REVEREND JOSEPH M. SORANNO
Father Joseph Soranno was the fourth Pastor of Saint Cecilia Parish. Father Soranno is a 1970 graduate of the University of Scranton. He attended Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland and was ordained a Priest for the Diocese of Springfield on June 22, 1974. Father Soranno served at Holy Name Parish in Springfield and Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Westfield. On October 15, 1988 he was named Pastor of Saint Cecilia Parish in Wilbraham. Father Joe spearheaded a campaign to build a new church for the growing parish. The first Mass in the new church was celebrated on November 22, 1996. Father Joe, as he was affectionately called by his parishioners, celebrated his 25th Anniversary as Pastor and his 40th Anniversary of Ordination before retiring on June 30, 2014. The parish flourished during his time here and we are forever grateful for all his hard work and dedication to the parishioners of St. Cecilia.
REVEREND DANIEL J. BOYLE
Growing up, Boyle attended Blessed Sacrament on Dwight Street in Springfield. After his father died when Boyle was 13, his mother moved to East Springfield. They attended Sacred Heart on Chestnut Street, his family’s ancestral church where his maternal grandparents and his parents were married. He was baptized there and ordained June 17, 1978. After two years at Holyoke Community College, Boyle transferred to North Adams State College, now Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 1973. He felt a vocational calling to the priesthood in his junior year of college and was accepted during his senior year to Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., the oldest Catholic college in the United States. Wanting a break before facing four more years of academics at seminary, Boyle took a year off during which he worked at Lechmere on Boston Road and part time as an orderly at Mercy Hospital. The priesthood began to hold an appeal to a young Boyle when he was an altar server at his parish, Blessed Sacrament. “Of all the servers, I lived physically closest to the church and was often called on to serve. I was always around priests and attracted to what they did. They ministered to people in joyful times like weddings, anniversaries and baptisms and grieved with them at sorrowful times like sickness and funerals. I always thought it was a meaningful life for them.” It wasn’t a straight path for Boyle. “Of course, when I was in junior high school, I discovered girls, did the proms. It was good. It rounds a person out.” He dated in college also, but by the end of his junior year found himself getting serious and reflecting more on the future.
Father Boyle brings more than 30 years of experience as a priest to St. Cecilia’s. Because of the mergers and acquisitions that were happening in the Diocese at the time, he ended up ministering to three separate churches in Adams, guiding them through the difficult transition. Assigned first in Adams as pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas, adding Notre Dame a few years later and, in 2002, St. Stanislaus, you could see any two churches from the top of the third. Each parish was small, but separate due to their founding based on various ethnicities, Irish, Canadian French and Polish. In 2008, the Diocese embarked on the experience of pastoral planning by trying to right size their churches for the future. St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Stanislaus closed. Parishioners at St. Stanislaus petitioned the Vatican to re-open their parish and were granted the status of a mission church of the newly formed St. John Paul Parish which occupied the old Notre Dame building. St. Thomas Aquinas’ became St. John Paul Charity Center. As for any plans he may have for St. Cecilia’s, Boyle said, “I’m not out to re-invent the wheel, I’m approaching my first year here as you would when coming to an unguarded railroad crossing. I will stop, look and listen, taking this first year to get to know the people, their gifts and their abilities. The cornerstone of my approach to pastoring is the empowerment of others.” Boyle prefers to empower people in their various ministries. “My type of teaching is not to look over their shoulder. I like to step back, get out of their way and let them go while always letting them know I am here if they have questions.” When thinking of how to best describe his new parish, Boyle said, “St. Cecilia is a well-cultivated garden.” Pleased with his description, he added, “I’ve kissed the Blarney Stone a few times.” One thing is sure. Boyle is looking forward to his time with the people of Saint Cecilia’s. He has been our Pastor for over two years and recently celebrated the 38th Anniversary of his ordination.
This November 22, the parish will be celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the new Church.