In June of 2013, Father Paul Ritt became the pastor of the newly formed Lynnfield Catholic Collaborative, which was comprised of St. Maria Goretti Parish, Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, and Our Lady of the Assumption School. On July 1, 2020, the parishes of St. Maria Goretti and Our Lady of the Assumption were merged to become Ave Maria Parish. In many ways, this role brought Fr. Paul full circle from his first assignment after being ordained.
The oldest of six children, Fr. Paul and his siblings were raised by parents who were strong believers and imparted their devotion to the Catholic Church on their children. He grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., until his family moved to New England when he was 16. He attended Catholic schools throughout his life and graduated from Providence College in 1975. Thinking he might like to follow in his father’s footsteps as a teacher and in research, Fr. Paul entered Graduate School to pursue a degree in Applied Mathematics. After one year, however, he realized that this wasn’t the right path for him. It was during this time of self-reexamination that Fr. Paul’s father reminded him of an idea that Fr. Paul had considered in his teenage years to become a priest. So, with the blessing and support of his parents and siblings, Fr. Paul entered St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, MA, to give priestly formation a try. He loved it…the community life, the courses, spiritual direction, his field education assignments, everything. He was ordained as a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston in 1981.
After ordination, his first assignment was to Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Lynnfield. After two years, Cardinal Medeiros requested he attend the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., to get a doctorate in Theology so he would be well-prepared to teach seminarians. Upon completing his studies in 1987, he began his teaching ministry and taught seminarians for 13 years. So, it seems that teaching in one form or another was always part of God’s plan for Fr. Paul. He was appointed the first director of the Master of Arts in Ministry Program for laity at St. John’s Seminary in Boston, and continues to teach theology to lay women and men at St. John’s Theological Institute for the New Evangelization in Braintree to this day. Fr. Paul has also served as the Administrator of St. Theresa Parish in Sherborn, and as Pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in North Chelmsford.
In addition to his ministry as the Pastor of Ave Maria Parish, Fr. Paul currently serves as the Vicar Forane for 14 parishes in the North Region of the Archdiocese, gathering priests for periodic meetings, visiting parishes, and supporting the faithful in whatever ways he can. Of his ministry in Lynnfield, Fr. Paul cites as highlights “working with capable and committed Team Members and parishioners to make progress in the challenging mission of evangelization; seeing the fruits of our pastoral outreach to those who have strayed from the Church or struggled with their faith; and witnessing our faith formation and parochial school children grow in their relationship with Christ and his Church.”
When not busy with all of the above, Fr. Paul’s hobbies include listening to music, walking, playing tennis, following our local sports teams, reading, and going to Nantasket Beach in Hull.
His favorite Bible verse is the opening verse of Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom do I fear? The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom am I afraid?”