Fr. Albert J. Sallese

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Fifty Years of Priesthood

How do you discern a vocation? This question troubled me for a long time. Deep in my heart,
I knew I was being called at an early age, but I did not want to respond. I thought I wanted to
be a banker. After high school, however, I decided to be a court reporter and enrolled at the
Stenotype Institute of Boston to follow my dream. Upon graduation, I went to work for a
lawyer in Boston for only a few months before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in November of 1952.
After boot camp, I was sent to school to become a hospital corpsman and was stationed at
the Chelsea Naval Hospital. I knew then that I had made a mistake and should have entered
the seminary, but I finished out my tour of duty.

Once I was released from duty, I finally entered the seminary. On May 26, 1966 I was
ordained a priest and was assigned to Most Holy Redeemer Parish in East Boston.
Monsignor Mimie B. Pitaro was my first pastor and teacher. I distinctly remember him
taking me over to the church, opening the front doors wide and saying, “Al, take a good
look. What you see is your parish. Not only this Church, but every house out there is in need
of your help and guidance.” Following the advice of Msgr. Pitaro to get involved in the parish
life, I started attending community meetings. Before I knew it, I was deeply involved in many
different programs. I was elected President of the East Boston Area Planning Action
Council (APAC) and also became a member of the Action for Boston Community
Development (ABCD) board.

At that time, we were also involved in an ongoing struggle with Logan Airport, which was
encroaching deeper and deeper into the community. We petitioned the governor to appoint
a community representative to the Massport Board, and he named me. I served in that role
from April 1970 to December 1978.

I also was deeply involved in parish life and worked with many faithful people. I was involved in
marriage ministries as an on-call priest, and helped make presentations for “Marriage Encounter”
in California, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Mississippi to name a few places. I also started a
charismatic prayer community in Stoneham 39 years ago, and they still meet to this day.

This year, I celebrated my 50th anniversary as a priest, and 50 wonderful years of service to the
people of God. I can honestly say I never once felt that I made a mistake in choosing my vocation.
I was, and still am, in love with my priesthood and all that it has taught me.

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