Farewell to Father Dave

By Ann Needle

St. Isidore Parish lost its pastor last Friday, October 12, when Father David Doucet succumbed to pancreatic cancer at age 70.

“Fr. Dave” became St. Isidore’s pastor in June 2006. St. Isidore Deacon Charlie Cornell described Doucet as “a humble, quiet man – he was a priest.” Still, Doucet quickly wove himself into life in Stow, continuing the St. Isidore tradition of offering its meeting hall to groups such as Boy Scout Troop 1 Stow and the Stow Blood Drive.

Many residents also knew Doucet as the chaplain for the Stow Fire Department. Fire Chief Michael McLaughlin praised Doucet as an “excellent” chaplain, one with more than 20 years of experience as a fire chaplain in Somerville.

“At the fire station, without his collar, he would look like the firefighters, and fit right in with them,” McLaughlin recalled. “Whenever we needed him, he was there, but he wasn’t in the firehouse all the time preaching religion.

“He did an incredible job, helping us a year ago at the tenth anniversary of 9/11,” McLaughlin continued. For the dedication of the firefighter memorial that morning, McLaughlin credited Doucet with arranging a Mass at St. Isidore’s, followed by a breakfast, before the dedication.

From Somerville to Stow
Having spent most of his life as a priest in the city and at large parishes, Doucet often joked about the seismic shift he rode when assigned to St. Isidore. He did not hesitate to point out some of the more humorous differences between Stow and his Somerville years.

A typical story from Doucet was his description of a May procession back at St. Benedict’s in Somerville. This is a ceremony where parishioners honor the Blessed Mother with a foot parade around the neighborhood, many dressed as the folks associated with Roman Catholicism, from saints to the Roman soldiers of Jesus’ time.

According to Doucet, one year it was the Roman soldiers — and their swords — that caught an unknowing neighbor’s attention. Seeing the swords and the unidentified costumes, the resident called the police to report “gang action”.

“When he came here, he always said he couldn’t sleep for three months without the sound of sirens,” laughed Charlie Cornell.

Doucet also needed to adjust to the more bare-bones life of a priest in a small parish. “Well, he never did adjust well to the fact that there was no cook on board in the rectory,” said Cornell. As a result, did Doucet pick up more culinary skills? “No, not really,” Cornell remarked. “That’s why he loved a dinner invitation, whether it was from the Boy Scouts for an event, or another group.”

Domestic challenges aside, Cornell stressed Doucet’s devotion to his family, and vice versa. He passed away at the home of niece Kimberly Goodman of Malden, who had been caring for Doucet in his final weeks, Cornell said. And, slated to be sponsor to another niece at the sacrament of Confirmation, the family quietly moved the Confirmation to an earlier date, not knowing how long he would survive, Cornell noted.

While it was painful to think of Doucet suffering for a length of time, Cornell offered that the priest had some time to close any gaps with family and friends. “It’s a gift to be able to say goodbye,” Cornell reflected.
St. Isidore’s also was saddened by another passing last month. Father Richard Butler, 76, who preceded Doucet as pastor, died on September 30.

A funeral Mass was held for Doucet at St. Columbkille Church, Brighton. Condolences may be sent to niece Kimberly Goodman, 66 Cliff St., Malden, MA, 02148.

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