Some of the departing priests have tried to ease the transition. Both Murphy and Sheridan, for example, know Riley, the incoming Salem pastor, and have told parishioners how much they respect him.
“He was at North Dorchester and I was at South Dorchester,” said Sheridan. “We used to eat together at his rectory. That’s what allows me to say I have such confidence in him.”
Murphy, who is heading into retirement, tried to be philosophical about his departure. Although he has loved his time in Salem and been happy here, he understands that moving on is part of a priest’s life.
“I’ve been here a long time,” he said. “It’s probably time for me to move on. ... Maybe it’s time for a change, and time for the people, too.”
Staff writer Paul Leighton contributed to this article.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.