Fr. John Unni of Saint Cecilia Parish is leaving on sabbatical at the end of June, but will return in late September.
According to the Saint Cecilia website, Fr. Unni was selected as a Barr Fellow in 2019 via the program that recognizes the city’s leaders. The two-year program culminates in an individual sabbatical for Fr. Unni that takes him to Italy and France ahead of the “group learning journey,” which was delayed due to the pandemic.
“This is NOT the ‘Irish/Italian goodbye, or a sneaky way to leave the parish! I’m planning to be back at the end of September and be present at the liturgies, baptisms, and weddings that weekend of October 1-2,” Fr. Unni wrote on the Saint Cecilia website. “In the meantime, I really look forward to spending some time in Italy and France, getting on a bike, making a silent retreat, and reconnecting with God, self, family, and friends.”
After delivering his last Mass on Pentecost Sunday, June 5, before leaving on sabbatical, Fr. Unni temporarily handed over the reins of St. Cecilia to Fr. Ron Coyne, whom Fr. Unni describes as “one of the best priests of the archdiocese.”
Of Fr. Coyne, Fr Unni wrote: “He is someone I have looked up to since I was young! He’s down to earth, real, kind, energetic, and engaging. Best of all, he can deliver a tight, cogent, ten-minute homily!!!”
Earlier this month, Fr. Unni was also appointed the chief chaplain for the Boston Fire Department by Chief Joe Finn. He replaces Fr. Dan Mahoney of Saint Francis de Sales Church in Charlestown, who before from stepping down from the parish at age 92 in early June had served as the BFD chaplain since 1964. Fr. Unni was previously appointed the BFD’s assistant fire chaplain in 2017.