Dec. 10 , 2021 – Robert F. Regan was born on June 6, 1927, in Boston, the oldest of four sons of Francis and Mary (Harrington) Regan. The family moved to the town of Belmont and Fr. Regan grew up there. He attended public schools and then Boston College (1944-1948), where he had Jesuit teachers who made a strong impression on him, among them Fr. John A. McCarthy in philosophy and Fr. Henry Callahan in history. He entered the Jesuit novitiate at Shadowbrook in 1948.
Because he was a college graduate he skipped a year of the juniorate and later a year of philosophy studies at Weston College. In 1953 he was sent to Baghdad College for his regency assignment. For two years he taught religion and mathematics and coached basketball, which Iraqi kids were passionate about. His third year there he studied Arabic. While he was in Iraq his father died suddenly but in those days there was no question of his coming home for the funeral.
In 1956 Fr. Regan returned to Weston for theology studies. He was ordained in June of 1959 and a year later did tertianship at Pomfret, Conn. He studied English literature for a year at Boston College and then returned to Baghdad, where he would remain for seven years until all the American Jesuits were expelled from Iraq in 1969. He held various jobs in the school, teaching religion and English and serving at different times as dean and prefect of discipline. He also taught at the minor seminary for candidates for the Chaldean diocesan clergy.
When the Jesuits left the country in 1969, Fr. Regan was among those who looked for ministries elsewhere in the Near East Province. He taught English at the French-medium high school in Cairo for fifteen years, until on a summer visit home the provincial told him he should remain in the States, in part because of his aging mother’s health.
Fr. Regan spent the following year (1984-1985) on sabbatical, doing parish ministry at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Waltham and commuting to a Clinical Pastoral Education program in Springfield directed by a friend from novitiate days, Fr. David Boulton. Reflecting on this year and the experience of the CPE program, he thought it changed him, made him less shy with people, especially women, more open and outgoing, which was important for his parish work. “I have confidence that I have something to offer and that I can represent the Church in a very outgoing, friendly way.”
For the next 32 years—with the exception of a year studying at BC’s Institute of Religious Education & Pastoral Ministry (1987-1988)—his world was parish ministry, from 1975 to 1989 at St. Ignatius Church in Chestnut Hill, for five years at St. Charles Borromeo in Waltham, then for two years at Saints Peter and Paul in Norwich, Conn.. For the last 21 years of his active ministry (1996-2017) he was in Portland, Maine, at Saint Pius X Parish and other church communities formed as the diocese merged parishes. “I really love parish work,” he said, “I really do.”
And he was good at it, though sometimes he was remembered for things he might not have thought of. Anyone who knew him knew that he carefully prepared for Mass and that he presided reverently but also wasted no time. “Oh, we love Father Regan,” one of his older Maine parishioners said to a visiting Jesuit, “especially in the winter. When we get out to our cars, they’re still warm.”
In July of 2017 Fr. Regan moved to Campion Health Center in Weston, Mass. He said Mass several times a week in nursing homes, senior living communities, and retirement residences of religious sisters. Eventually he had to limit his outside commitments. His body grew improbably thin until all you saw was his friendly smile. He died in the early evening of Dec. 2, 2021.