WEST HARTFORD – Father John C. Blackall, former pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in Waterbury, died on May 18, 2013, surrounded by his family in his home.
He was born on Aug. 23, 1926, in Waterbury, a son of John C. Blackall, a former state senator and state insurance commissioner, and Mae (Kelly) Blackall.
He is survived by his brother, Father L. Randall Blackall, and sisters Frances B. Blanchfield and Joan Mackas, all of West Hartford.
He graduated from St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield and St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 3, 1951, at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford by then-Bishop Henry J. O'Brien. He served as parochial vicar at St. Thomas Parish in Goshen.
He was then assigned to St. Thomas Church in Waterbury, where his lifelong ministry to the Catholic Hispanic community began. He studied the Spanish language in order to minister to the Catholic Hispanic community. He was then assigned to Immaculate Conception Parish in Waterbury, where he celebrated the first Spanish Mass in Waterbury on Sept. 29, 1957.
In 1959, he was appointed to St. Cecilia Parish in Waterbury, where he established a center for Spanish-speaking people. He served the parishioners of this parish for more than 40 years.
Among his many accomplishments were sponsoring refugee families from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Viet Nam and Cambodia, as well as being a social activist for Catholic causes. His awards include the prestigious archdiocesan Mission Society Award and the Bishop Donnelly Memorial Award for outstanding individual achievement toward Catholic social justice.
In his retirement, he continued to serve the Catholic community by celebrating the Mass and administering the sacraments at various parishes.
Father Blackall also is survived by his nephews and nieces and several grandnieces and great-grand nieces and nephews.
Auxiliary Bishop Christie A. Macaluso, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Hartford, celebrated a Mass of Christian Buria on May 21 at St. Peter Claver Church. Burial was in his family plot at Fairview Cemetery in West Hartford.
Donations in Father Blackall’s memory may be made to Archdiocese of Hartford Catholic Charities, 839-841 Asylum Ave., Hartford, CT 06105-2801.