Father John P. Lavin, aka “Padre Juan,” of the community at the St. John Neumann Residence, Stella Maris, Timonium Maryland, died February 12, 2022, age 80 and nine months.
He was born on May 11, 1941, in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of John Patrick and Agnes (Kilduff). Fr. Lavin was baptized June 8, 1941, at St. Joseph’s Church, Boston, and was later confirmed at the Redemptorists’ Our Lady of Perpetual Help “Mission Church” on May 13, 1952. He also attended the Mission Church Grammar School.
He attended St. Mary’s Preparatory Seminary, North East, PA (1954-60). He professed temporary vows at St. Mary’s, Ilchester, MD, on August 2, 1961, and perpetual vows at Mt. St. Alphonsus Seminary, Esopus, NY September 2, 1964, where he was ordained to the priesthood on June 19, 1966. He earned his BA (1963), B.Div. (1966), and MRE (1967) at the Mount. His second novitiate was completed at St. Mary’s, Annapolis, in 1967.
Fr. Lavin’s first assignment was to the Vice-Province of San Juan. He was stationed in Ponce (1968-1969) and Caguas (1969-1975), where he had charge of the Barriada Morales. He returned home to the Mission Church, Boston, between 1976 and 1981 and began a program for youth in the former St. Alphonsus Hall that encompassed numerous activities—from dance and weightlifting to karate and self-defense. Every Thursday night, in order “to build the moral fiber of the kids of the neighborhood,” he and his lay collaborators included an hour of prayer, scripture reading, and discussion.
Father Lavin was then appointed rector at St. Cecilia in Spanish Harlem, NYC (1981-1984) and remained as associate pastor (1984-1987). He undertook Spanish mission preaching around the United States with Father George Drew (1987-1992) and then served at St. Michael the Archangel, Baltimore (rector, 1992-1999). When St. Michael’s joined with St. Patrick’s in 1995 Father Lavin became the first pastor of a bi-lingual parish in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He went on to serve St. Mary’s, Annapolis (1999-2008, primarily Hispanic ministry), and the Mission Church, Boston (2008-2018). Health issues prompted a transfer to St. John Neumann Residence, Stella Maris, Timonium, MD (July 2018-February 2022).
Father Lavin was the author of Noticing Lazarus at Our Door (Xlibris, 2007), which was also published in Spanish as Notar a Lázaro en Nuestra Puerta (Xlibris, 2008). It covers 40 years of ministry with Hispanic and Latino people and gives voice to his advocacy for immigration reform. His work led him to be a frequent participant in the national Encuentro meetings. While serving in Annapolis, he was heavily involved in the Retrouvaille movement and the cultivation of English- and Spanish-speaking small Christian communities.
In 2006, he was nominated by the Archdiocese of Baltimore for a recognition by Governor Robert Ehrlich of his ministry with Maryland’s Hispanic community. Last year, Father Lavin celebrated his 60th anniversary of profession as a Redemptorist, albeit under lockdown due to the pandemic. Apart from his priestly labors, Fr. Lavin was also a lifelong member of the Red Sox nation!
He is survived by his sister Arlene Lavin Morrissey of Quincy, MA, his brother James A. Lavin and his sister-in-law Rachel Lavin of Franklin, MA. His sister Anne Lavin Smith, of Cotuit, MA, preceded him in passing on May 23, 2016.
Funeral arrangements for Fr. John Lavin, C.Ss.R.
Sunday, February 20 at 7:30 p.m. Wake Service at OLPH (Mission Church); 1545 Tremont Street; Boston, MA 02120
Monday, February 21 at 10 a.m. Funeral Mass at OLPH (Mission Church); 1545 Tremont Street; Boston, MA 02120
Eternal rest grant unto JOHN, O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May JOHN’s soul and the souls of all the faithful departed thru the mercy of God Rest in Peace. Amen.