BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — A priest who helped a Weymouth church rebuild after a devastating fire has been named pastor of the city’s four Catholic parishes.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley has named the Rev. Daniel Riley, pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Weymouth, as head of the Salem collaborative, which includes Immaculate Conception, St. Anne, St. James and St. John the Baptist churches.
Riley will assume his new duties June 4.
“I’m excited to be coming up there,” said Riley, 57, who visited Salem on Thursday, making stops at all four parishes.
A vicar in the South Region of the Archdiocese of Boston, Riley has been pastor of the Weymouth church for 10 years. Sacred Heart, which also serves parishioners in Braintree, was rebuilt after a 2005 fire.
Riley has been a priest for 29 years, also serving at parishes in Chelsea, Quincy and Dorchester.
“He’s a very fine priest,” said the Rev. Timothy Murphy, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Salem. Before Riley was ordained, Murphy was his deacon supervisor at a church in Mattapan.
Riley’s appointment was announced at Masses last weekend.
“I’ve spoken to him a couple of times,” said Andrea Schwartz, co-chairwoman of the Salem Parish Task Force, which worked on the collaboration plan. “He’s very positive and very excited, which makes me excited. He’s ready to come and meet everybody and learn about Salem.”
Riley, the son of a Brookline police officer, comes here as part of a sweeping reorganization of the Archdiocese of Boston. Over the next five years, 288 parishes will be grouped into 135 collaboratives.
O’Malley decided to reorganize the archdiocese, rather than close parishes, as a way of making the best use of a limited number of priests and shrinking resources. The ultimate goal is to strengthen parishes and grow the church, officials said.
“The great thing is it’s not closing any churches or parishes,” Riley said.
Each collaborative will have a pastor, several priests and a church staff. Churches will remain open and host weekend Masses, although Mass schedules are likely to change.
In the first phase of the plan, the cardinal is announcing pastors for the first 12 collaboratives.
Earlier this month, the Rev. Mark Mahoney, pastor of St. Rose of Lima in Topsfield, was named pastor of the Beverly collaborative, which is made up of St. Mary, St. Margaret and St. John parishes.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.