The following article appeared in the Sunday Republican on August 29th, 1999 and was written by Tom Shea.
Bondsville - He said yes. That's how the story began eight years ago, at the dinner following the Rev.
Marcus Murtough's funeral.
Parishoners of St. Bartholomew's Church in the Bondsville section of Palmer were in mourning
for there beloved priest. The sadness was mixed with fear: St. Bartholomew's is a small parish with a mostly elderly
With the shortage of priests, theirs was just the kind of church that was a prime candidate
for being closed. Parishoner's weren't ready for yet another death.
The dinner following Father Murtough's funeral was held at the Storrowtown Tavern in West Springfield.
In attendance was a friend, the Rev. Edward J. Dyer of Worcester. He was pushing 80, but his age hardly showed.
Full of vigor, gregarious and funny, he charmed a table full of strangers.
One dared to ask: "You wouldn't like a job, would you?"
It turns out he did.
Father Edward J. Dyer - Eddie to his friends - had been retired six years. Ordained at
St. Michael's Cathedral on June 7, 1941, he'd spent much of his career as a parish priest in the Worcester Diocese before
retiring in Febuary of 1985.
Retirement didn't mean inactivity. He offered Masses each Monday at an Alzheimer's unit
in Worcetster. He regularly made trips to Maine to treat his two aunts to lobster feasts. He continued to study
and enjoy his many interests: theological dogma, world affairs, sports, opera. His collection of puns and jokes continued
Father Dyer said yes to St. Bartholomew's eight years ag because he is a man who can't say no
to those in need.
He's 86, now. A bum knee remains his only concession to age. He always arrives early
and stays late for his twice-weekly hour long trip from his Worcester apartment to the Bondsville Church.
He celebrates the 4 p.m. vigil on Saturdays and the 9 a.m. Mass on Sunday. His very presence
is a prayer answered.
The parishoners ren't simply happy to have a cleric - they genuinely enjoy his sermons, despite
the talks being legendary for their length and breadth.
As one elderly parishoner told him, "I fell asleep when we were in Fenway Park and I woke up
when we were in Jerusalem. I'm sure it was a great trip."
She wasn't complaining, and Father Dyer took the comment as a compliment. He's like that.
One Christmas he recieved a card that showed Santa dropping a bag of gifts outside an outhouse.
The punchline read: "I said the Schmidt House!" Father Dyer must have shown that card to every adult in the parish.
And everyone seems to have a Father Dyer story. It usually involves kindness, thoughtfullness,
generosity and a laugh.
He likes laughter and people. Just two reasons why he hangs around town after Mass.
And it's not just to collect compliments on how his new white beard makes him look
like Ernest Hemingway. Post-Mass, he's holding court at the town's Burger King, ignoring his food, all his attention
poured into relating his latest jokes, trying out the newest puns, worrying about the Red Sox, yet always listening, always
making himself available.
If someone should ask him to pray for a relative or friend, the priest writes down the name
as a reminder - in ink - on his wrist. Should anyone ask him to visit an ill friend or relative, rest assured that Father
Dyer and his big blue Mercury Marquis will not only find the person but he'll stay for awhile.
To share a prayer A laugh. Eight years later, to still say yes.