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Griffin, Richard B

January 20, 2020


Richard B. Griffin of Cambridge, died peacefully at home on January 20, 2020, at the age of 91. Beloved husband of Susan Keane, and devoted father of Emily Griffin. He was preceded in death by his parents, John H. Griffin and Alice (Barry) Griffin; by his brother, John H. Griffin Jr.; by his sister-in-law, Joanne Griffin; and by his nephews Stephen Griffin and Gregory Griffin. He is survived by his wife and daughter, and by four siblings: Sister Maureen Griffin, SNDdeN.; Kevin B. Griffin; Carol M. Griffin; and Gerald G. Griffin; his sisters-in-law Mary Rose Griffin and Wynne Griffin; and by three generations of nieces and nephews.

Richard was born in Peabody, Massachusetts, on August 19, 1928. He grew up in Belmont and Watertown, attending public schools and St. Sebastian’s School. He was a member of the Harvard Class of 1951, but left the College after two years to enter the Society of Jesus. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1962, a year marked by the opening session of Vatican II. Richard enthusiastically embraced the teachings of the Council, and its spirit would mark him for the rest of his life. From 1968 to 1975, at the height of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, he was Catholic chaplain at Harvard, where he inspired many members of the community and displeased others. At the same time, he had begun to question his vocation to the priesthood. In 1975 he was released from his vows and left the Jesuits, while retaining lifelong ties of friendship to the Jesuit community. The rest of his career was marked by profound engagement in the field of aging: first as the director of the Cambridge Council on Aging, and then as a journalist, producing weekly columns for the Cambridge Chronicle.Marriage and fatherhood brought him great joy, and he loved nothing better than conversations with new and old friends. A friend characterized this activity as a ministry of friendship, and he continued to exercise it to the end of his life.

Visiting Hours will be held Friday, January 24 from 4-7pm at Brown and Hickey Funeral Home, 36 Trapelo Road in Belmont. The funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, January 25 at Saint Peter Church, 100 Concord Avenue, Cambridge, at 10am, followed by interment at Cambridge Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to Bread of Life, 54 Eastern Avenue, Malden, MA 02148 or Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services, 61 Medford Street, Somerville, MA 02143.