‘I have found great happiness’: The Rev. Timothy Campoli marks 50 years as Catholic priest

The Rev. Timothy Campoli elevates the sacred host during the Eucharist at a Mass celebrated at Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenfield on April 6, the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a Catholic priest.

The Rev. Timothy Campoli elevates the sacred host during the Eucharist at a Mass celebrated at Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenfield on April 6, the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a Catholic priest. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Several deacons and fellow priests visited Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenfield on April 6 for a Mass celebrated by the Rev. Timothy Campoli, front row, center, on the 50th anniversary of his ordination of a Catholic priest.

Several deacons and fellow priests visited Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenfield on April 6 for a Mass celebrated by the Rev. Timothy Campoli, front row, center, on the 50th anniversary of his ordination of a Catholic priest. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Rev. Timothy Campoli of Blessed Trinity Parish in the Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenfield.

The Rev. Timothy Campoli of Blessed Trinity Parish in the Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

The Rev. Timothy Campoli of the Blessed Trinity Parish in the Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenfield.

The Rev. Timothy Campoli of the Blessed Trinity Parish in the Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-28-2024 9:19 AM

Modified: 04-29-2024 12:22 PM


GREENFIELD — The Rev. Timothy Campoli was ordained on April 6, 1974. There is little way he could have predicted he would mark his 50th year in the Catholic priesthood by celebrating Mass exactly a half-century later, but that’s precisely what happened.

Deacons and fellow priests visited Blessed Sacrament Church at 221 Federal St. earlier this month to share the occasion with the priest assigned to Greenfield in 1981. Campoli retired from administrative work four years ago, now filling in for other priests who can’t celebrate a Mass or who have a day off.

Campoli, who turned 77 last week, grew up in Pittsfield, where he graduated from high school in 1965. He attended Gannon College (now Gannon University) in Erie, Pennsylvania, before entering the Seminary of Our Lady of Angels in New York. He served as the priest at Sacred Heart Church in his hometown for a year after his ordination before moving to the former St. Patrick’s Church in Chicopee, with a few brief assignments sprinkled in.

The reverend’s work in Franklin County began at Greenfield’s Holy Trinity Church and then he switched to Blessed Sacrament in 1983. He was there until seven years ago, when Monsignor Ronald Yargeau retired and the bishop asked Campoli to merge the two parishes so he could be the pastor at both.

“I have found great happiness in it,” Campoli said sitting in the pastoral center and parish office at 14 Beacon St. “As a pastor, you’re responsible for running the parish, training people. My role is this ... I bring Jesus Christ to you. You are also a member of the priesthood, and it’s called the priesthood of the laity. Your responsibility is to bring everybody that you meet to Jesus Christ.”

One person he has mentored is George Nolan, who was ordained as a Catholic deacon in 2011 and has known Campoli since moving to Greenfield in the 1980s.

“First of all, he’s got a great sense of humor. He’s always teasing people. He’s kind, he’s generous,” Nolan said. “He’s got an easy-going personality. It was actually pretty easy to work with him.”

Nolan also said Campoli has a wonderful ability to make personal connections and recruit parishioners for tasks that align with their skill set or line of work.

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“I would consider them my family, you see?” Campoli said of the church community.

He mentioned he first considered becoming a priest in the fourth or fifth grade, when he was an altar server for a Maryknoll priest who came home from Guatemala. The Maryknoll Society is a Catholic society for men to serve as missionaries around the world. Campoli later got to know another Maryknoll priest, a bishop who served in Africa, and helped him get acquainted with the neighborhood when the bishop came home.

“That was kind of an honor, to drive the bishop around,” he recounted. “So, naturally, what did I think I wanted to do?”

Campoli explained he has worked closely with Baystate Franklin Medical Center, taking Communion calls and delivering last rites — a set of prayers given to a dying Christian to spiritually prepare them for death by assuring the forgiveness of sins and entrance into heaven. As like all other priests at the parish, he was also the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction’s chaplain, celebrating Mass there every Saturday morning and occasionally meeting with the inmates. Priests, he said, also oversee religious education, like Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, or CCD.

“When you work with the people well, that encourages you to do more things. And I found the people here very encouraging,” Campoli said. “I couldn’t have found a happier life.”

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.