Shrewsbury – Brother J. Conal Owens, C.F.X., 93, longtime Headmaster of Saint John’s High School, died Saturday, May 7, 2022 after a short illness.
Born in Lowell, Massachusetts on May 5, 1929, Brother Conal was the son of Daniel and Sarah (Finucane) Owens. He attended St. Michael’s Elementary School and Keith Academy, both in Lowell, transferring in his junior year to St. Joseph’s Juniorate in Peabody to prepare for his religious life in the Congregation of the Xaverian Brothers. He earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Boston College and was also awarded an honorary doctorate by Assumption University in Worcester.
Brother Conal had a long and distinguished career in education. He was the principal of Mission Church High School in Roxbury from 1963 until 1965, when he joined the faculty of Saint John’s High School in Shrewsbury. In 1968, he was appointed the 16th Headmaster of Saint John’s and continued his education ministry as headmaster at the school until 2001 when he was named Headmaster Emeritus.
After his tenure at St. John’s, Brother Conal introduced a new model of school sponsorship and organized the first board of trustees at Venerini Academy, Worcester, and served as a longtime consultant and advisor for the Academy. Brother Conal shared his respected skills in several capacities with the Diocese of Worcester.
A founding member of the Diocesan School Committee who also served on the Board of Education of the Diocese, Brother Conal was a recipient of the “Mother Seton Award” for leadership in Catholic education from the Diocese. He also served on the advisory board of the House of Affirmation and the board of governors of the Catholic Free Press.
A faithful Xaverian Brother for over 75 years, Brother Conal served his religious community as chairman of the board of trustees at Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood and at Malden Catholic High School. In addition, he was a member of the provincial council of the American Northeastern Province of the Xaverian Brothers, and on the finance committee for the Congregation.
Brother Conal leaves his sister Eleanor Belanger; wife of the late André Belanger; a nephew Brother Brian Conal Belanger O.F.M.; a nephew Richard Owens; a nephew Philip Belanger and his wife Leona; a niece, Andrea Stanislaw and her husband Joseph Stansilaw; and a niece Joanne Belanger; also a grandniece and four grandnephews, Monica, Garrett and Ian Martel, and Bernard and Joseph Belanger. He was predeceased by his brother and his sister-in-law, Edward J. and Helen Owens; and a niece Sheila Owens.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, May 17, at 9:30 a.m. in the Coaches Pavilion at St. John’s High School, 378 Main St., Shrewsbury. The Xaverian Brothers request that masks be worn at the Mass. Burial in the Xaverian Brothers Cemetery in Danvers will be private. Calling Hours will take place in the Pavilion on Monday, May 16, from 4 to 8 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Brother Conal’s memory may be made to the Xaverian Brothers Retirement Fund, 4409 Frederick Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21229.