Rev. Thomas Brendan Begley, 84, died Sunday, December 2, 2018, at Berkshire Medical Center.
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Born at home on Leonard Street in Springfield on April 25, 1934, second of the three children of Jeremiah B. Begley and Anna T. Sullivan Begley, both immigrants from West of Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland, he lived on Hungry Hill in Springfield and graduated in 1952 from the old Cathedral High School.
He attended Saint Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, Conn., 1952-1954; the Seminary of Philosophy, Montreal, Canada, 1954-1956; St. John Seminary. Brighton, Mass., 1956-1960; Seminary of Philosophy, Montreal, Canada, 1954-1956; Saint John Seminary, Brighton, Mass. 1956-1960.
Fr. Begley was ordained on January 30, 1960, at St. Michael Cathedral, Springfield, by Most Reverend John F. Hackett, D.D., Titular Bishop of Helenopolis.
Fr. Begley served as assistant at Our Lady of Sacred Heart, Springfield, from (1960-1961); Saint Thomas Church, Palmer (1961-1968); Saint Joseph Church, Pittsfield (1975-1981); Saint Michael Cathedral, Springfield, (1968-1975).
His appointments included Bishop’s Commission for the Clergy (1970-1973), Commission for the Clergy (1973-1976), Bishop’s Commission for the Clergy (1980-1983); Dean of the Northern Berkshire Deanery (1982-1984); Bishop’s Commission for the Clergy (1983-1986); Member of Diocesan Vocation Advisory Committee (1984); Dean of the Northern Berkshire Deanery (1985-1988), Bishop’s Commission for the Clergy (1986-1989), Diocesan Vocation Advisory Committee (1986-199), Bishops Commission for the Clergy (1989-1992); Pastor of Saint Mary of the Assumption Church, Cheshire (1981-2001); St. Thomas Aquinas, Adams (1984). He retired on
January 31, 2001.
In 1975, he welcomed the assignment of Assistant Pastor at St. Joseph Church in Pittsfield. It was while there that Bishop Maguire named him to be Pastor of St. Mary the Assumption Church in Cheshire. For twenty years, he immersed himself in the activities of the parish and the community of Cheshire and North Berkshire County.
At various times during his ministry, he served on the Selection Committee of Big Brothers of Springfield, the Allocation Committee of the United Way of North Berkshire, and was a long-time active member of the Hospice of North Berkshires.
Among his proudest achievements was that, for all his years in Cheshire, he opened the church for Appalachian Trail hikers. He provided a dry and safe haven to over 6,000 hikers from every State and every province of Canada, and for visitors from at least 15 countries worldwide.
Motivated by these hikers, he undertook the hike himself, and on Labor Day 1995, he climbed Mount Katahdin to complete the 2150 mile hike. He also completed the Long Trail (260 miles in Vermont), and the Metacomet-Monadnock trail. He was a life member of the Long Distance Hiking Associates. Also, he was an active member of the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Green Mountain Club. After his retirement, he co-maintained four miles of the Appalachian Trail in Dalton including the Kay Wood Shelter.
After his retirement, he did some substitute parish work. However, he especially enjoyed living in Hinsdale where he was an active member of the retirement community at Country Road Mobile Home Park.
He was a lifetime alpine skier favoring Brodie Mountain and Stratton Mountain. Beginning on his 62nd birthday, he became an avid birder and was active in the Hoffman Bird Club of the Berkshires, the Allen Club of the Pioneer Valley, as well as Massachusetts Audubon Society. He was also a regular on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, and in inclement weather, did the early morning “Mall Crawl”.
For the past eight months, Fr. Begley enjoyed his move to Devonshire Estates and the community at Devonshire. His family wishes to thank everyone at Devonshire for their kind and caring ways.
Father Begley is survived by two sisters, Mary T. Crowley of Springfield, Mass., and Patricia (and James) Masi of Cape Elizabeth, Maine; and many nieces and nephews.
He was pre-deceased by a brother-in-law, James F. Crowley, and a nephew, James M. Crowley.
FUNERAL NOTICE: Funeral services for Rev. Thomas Brendan Begley will be held Friday, December 7, 2018, with a Liturgy of Christian Burial at 10:00 a.m., at St. Joseph Church, 414 North Street, Pittsfield, celebrated by Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski, Bishop of Springfield. Burial will be on Friday at 1:30 p.m. in St. Michael’s Cemetery, Springfield.
Calling hours will be Thursday, December 6, from 4:00 to 7:00 at St. Joseph Church in Pittsfield. A Vigil Service will follow at 7:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association or to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy both in care of DERY FUNERAL HOME, 54 Bradford Street, Pittsfield, 01201.