This past week I submitted a letter stating my intention to retire as Deputy Chief – Northeast of the Massachusetts Corps of Fire Chaplains. After 17 years in the Corps and 13 years as a deputy, I felt it was time for me to move aside to bring a new voice to the table.
I joined the Corps shortly after I was appointed the first Fire Chaplain in the Town of Dudley, Massachusetts. I had read an article in the Boston Globe about the work and ministry of the fire chaplains. I had never really given the fire service much thought past the “I want to be a firefighter when I grow up” talk of my childhood. I reached out to the Corps only to learn that there was already a chaplain in Southbridge, where I was living. After meeting with the Southbridge chaplain, a suggestion was made to reach out to the Fire Chief in the next town, Dudley. I did, and well, the rest is history.
After joining the Corps, I was asked by Chief Fire Chaplain Larry Provenzano to become the Quartermaster and to join the Board of Directors. In 2009, after a reorganization, I was elected as the Deputy Chief for Central Massachusetts, a position I held until I moved to Quincy in 2015. After the move and another reorganization, I became Deputy Chief Chaplain -Northeast. I covered all of the cities and towns from Boston North and West to the border of Worcester County.
Serving as a fire chaplain and as part of the Corps of Fire Chaplains has added a dimension to my ministry that I never thought I would have. Standing on the fireground in the freezing cold and offering a firefighter a hot cup of coffee seems like a small thing but to that firefighter is means a lot. In the Corps, we strive to “Serve those who Serve.” So much of our work and ministry is modeled after that of Fr. Mychal Judge, the New York City Fire Chaplain, killed on 9/11.
Deciding to step aside is never an easy decision, but it feels like this is the right time. It has indeed been an honor to serve the firefighters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in this role. Oh, I remain as the chaplain in the City of Quincy, so I am not giving up chaplaincy completely.