81-Year-Old Priest Revives Tough Boston Neighborhood
For the past 10 years Father Richard Conway has been a fixture on the streets of Dorchester, a tough neighborhood south of Boston which has seen its share of gang violence and upheaval. He doesn’t wear a bulletproof vest or carry a weapon, but what he does have is much more powerful and meaningful to his community – a warmth and charisma that is building bridges between the residents, local government and the police to bring positive change to his troubled district.
He is affectionately known as “Father Doc”, a nod to his father who was an obstetrician, and he has been a fixture in the Boston area since being ordained in 1963. Now 81, he has performed mass and led various charitable activities at parishes in South Weymouth, Framingham, Lowell, Newton, Brockton, and currently at Dorchester’s St. Teresa of Calcutta Church.
The key to his effectiveness with young and old, all races and religions, is simply his warmth and ability to start a conversation that leads to meaningful action. “People will just talk to you,” he reflected, “and I start to see what they need. So I started carrying a list of jobs in my pocket so when I see a bunch guys I can ask them if anyone needs a job and then show them the list.”
Violence and fear have taken their toll on the people of Dorchester. For those who are already on the wrong side of the law, Father Doc has a forward thinking plan to pull them out of the cycle of crime and punishment. “I’ll visit these kids in jail, say hi to them, and ask if I can help when they get it out.” For some, he is the first one to toss them a lifeline to a better way of living.
Building trust and being present and visible over a long periods is difficult, but Father Conway embraces this “one day at a time” approach and his community appreciates it. Whether it’s picking up a few words of another language or coaching the kids CYO hockey team, he deeply understands the small moments that knit together to make a strong bond between people.
Learn all about what gives this 81-year-old the amazing pep in his step and the will to keep working at making his community a happier and safer place live.
Learn more at: https://stteresaofcalcuttadorchester.org/
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