His Eminence Sean Cardinal O’Malley, OFM, Cap. presented Father Gabriel Troy, pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption, Cambridge, with the Cardinal Cushing Medal for Excellence in Service to Humanity at the Annual Award Celebration at Boston College High School on October 16, 2016.
Born in Kilkenny, Ireland, Father Troy always knew he wanted to be a missionary. Ireland at that time had an abundance of priests, so men seeking to enter the priesthood were ordained for dioceses in the United States and other countries. The Archdiocese of Boston was a major destination for Irish priests at that time, in no small part because of the Society of St. James, which even then was sending many priests to Latin America for missionary work. “From the beginning, I asked to be accepted for it,” Fr. Gabe recalled. “That entailed being ordained for Boston.”
Thus began a fateful journey that spanned three continents and more than 50 years. Fr. Gabe attended St. Kieran’s Seminary in Kilkenny and was ordained to the priesthood in 1966 for the Archdiocese of Boston.
Then, newly ordained priests for the Archdiocese were required to serve one year in a parish in the Archdiocese of Boston in order to gain experience working with a congregation. After serving his obligatory one year in a parish in Cambridge, Saint John the Evangelist, Fr. Gabe joined the Society of St. James and was sent to Peru.
He would serve in Peru for 27 years, working in parishes and towns that were home to the poorest of the poor, including the parishes of Talara in the country’s north, and Cieneguilla, just outside the country’s capital, Lima.
In Peru, Fr. Gabe created desperately needed housing for teachers, restored and built chapels, churches, and other parish buildings, started rehabilitation centers for young people who had become addicted to drugs, and built medical facilities that provided services—particularly midwives and medical laboratories, which were in almost constant short supply in Peru.
From 1989-1994, Fr. Gabe served as the Country Coordinator and local superior for the Society, overseeing all of the Society’s work in Peru. In 1994 he was elected to the first of two three-year terms as Society Director, returnng to work in Boston at the Center House in the North End.
In 2000, after 33 years with the Society of St. James, Fr. Gabe returned to parish ministry in the Archdiocese of Boston, serving for seven years as pastor of St. Joseph’s in the West End and for the last ten years as pastor of St. Mary of the Annuciation in Cambridge—a parish which next year will celebrate its 150th anniversary and has a significant Latin American and Spanish speaking population.
Rev. David Costello, Director of the Society, has said that his fellow priests both within the Society and in the Archdiocese of Boston, consider Fr. Gabe “a true friend,” and similar sentiments would certainly be expressed by countless men, women, and children of Peru whose lives he worked tirelessly to empower, educate, and improve.
Two of his parishoners recently wrote of Fr. Gabe: “You are remarkable!…[we] want you to know how much you have touched not only our lives, but the lives of so, so many. You have a natural gift of balancing faith with common sense and making everyone you know become a better person.”
Fr. Gabe, for all you have done for the poor, the sick, and the needy of Peru and Latin America, for your ministry of more that fifty years, and for your service to the Missionary Society of Saint James the Apostle, it is a privilege to present you the Cardinal Cushing Medal for Excellence in Service to Humanity.