The Rev. Joseph Charles Henchey, CSS, MA, STD was born in Woburn, Massachusetts, June 2, 1930. He entered the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata on January 6, 1946, and was ordained a Stigmatine priest in Rome, Italy, on July 1, 1956.
Father Henchey’s earliest ministry was in Washington, D.C. as Prefect of Professed Seminarians (1956-1959), and in Wellesley, MA for the Minor Seminarians (1959-1961) and brothers (1964-1966.) He also was briefly associate pastor in Sacred Heart Parish (Feeding Hills, MA, 1961-1963) and Our Lady of Angels Parish (Woodbridge, VA, 1963-1964.) He spent almost two years in Verona and Rome (Italy, 1966-1967) devoted to researching the charism and spirituality of the Stigmatine Founder, Saint Gaspar Bertoni. He also served as Master of Novices in Waterville (New York, 1967-1969.) The Saint Gaspar Bertoni would become the focus of his academic research throughout his life. During this period he enriched his love and devotion to Saint Gaspar that would define and inspire the rest of his life, including many translations of the saint’s works from Italian into English. In 2003 he established a website honoring St. Gaspar, at: st-bertoni.com [“A Tribute to St. Gaspar Bertoni”].
Father Henchey received a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum) in Rome, in 1973. The title of his dissertation was The Religious Life: Sacrament of Hope. Beginning at this time, he became a regular retreat master for the Missionaries of Charity in Rome. Five times in the 19 years he preached these retreats, the superior general was among his retreatants. He recalls what a privilege it was to minister to Saint Teresa of Calcutta, when she spent her entire life ministering to others. He would offer retreats throughout his active ministry.
He would go on to serve on the faculty at this Pontifical University for over 20 years. He directed the doctoral dissertations of more than forty priests, many of whom were named bishops. Father Henchey also served as General Councilor for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata [1970-1976 and 1988-1990] and as Provincial of the North American Province (1985-1988.)
In 1996, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops appointed Father Henchey to the Pontifical North American College in Rome, as an Assistant Spiritual Director (1996- 2002). He then served in a similar position at Pope Saint John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, MA, for men desiring a “second career” as priests.
He was named to the Chester and Margaret Paluch Chair of Theology at Mundelein Seminary, Chicago, IL. (2006-2009) He then became Professor of Theology and a Formation Director at St. Joseph Seminary (Dunwoodie) in Yonkers, NY (2009-2014), also serving as assisting priest at the Stigmatine Parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in White Plains, NY, (2009 to 2012).
Father Henchey returned to Mundelein Seminary, as Adjunct Spiritual Director (2015-2019) when, at the age 89, he stopped taking new directees. At the beginning of 2021, his health steadily declined. By March he was confined to bed. He died peacefully on April 7, 2021, at age 90 in Evanston, IL.
A liturgy of Christian Burial for Father Henchey is planned at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, 5 East Main Street, Milford MA on Friday, April 16, 2021, at 11:30 a.m. Visitors may pay their respects from 10 to 11:15 a.m.
For those wishing to view the Funeral Mass on Friday may do so here.
Father Henchey is survived by his Stigmatine confreres, by his nieces Mary Judith Tierney, Elizabeth Melanson, Eileen Lundstrom (Kenneth), and Joan Ellen Henchey (Gene Gauthier), his nephew Joseph Henchey Tierney (Vicki) and his sister-in-law Joan (Barry) Henchey. Fr. Henchey also leaves 12 grand-nieces and nephews, three great-grand-nephews and one great-grand-niece. Besides his parents and five siblings, he was predeceased by his niece Laura Henchey Harrison (Skip). He will be greatly missed by many dear friends, particularly Tereza and Vicente Lopes, and most especially by his devoted care givers Lisa and Alan Campbell.
Donations in Father Henchey’s memory may be sent to the Stigmatine Fathers and Brothers, 123 William Street, Springfield, MA 01105.