by Robert Gillis
Published in the Boston City Paper July 2006
It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Father Clement L. Pelletier, SJ, on October 26, 2005. Father Pelletier served the B.C. High community for over forty years and was one of those men — one of those great priests, great human beings that I always remember so fondly.
For three of my four years at B.C. High, (it was Father Callahan in sophomore year), Father Pelletier was my French teacher. He was gregarious, friendly, kind, and had a sense of humor that was all too rare for an instructor.
I wasn’t great at French and often struggled to keep up my B, but he was always there, always available, always kind. When I needed a recommendation letter to Boston College, he was the teacher I asked to write it. And although finances prevented me from attending that college, I am sure his recommendation helped me gain that acceptance letter.
His many obituaries do not mention his great love of photography. He always had his camera and hundreds — maybe thousands — of the pictures in BC High yearbooks throughout the decades were his work. Looking back on my own 1983 yearbook, I see so many examples of his excellent photography. He is listed as the Renaissance (our year book’s name) moderator of photography but he was so much more.
His French class was always enjoyable. He had a lot of running themes and mannerisms that were very endearing. For example, we prayed before each class, and his prayer always began, “We ask you God our father.” He often added a prayer that when we got our test scores back we would not kick ourselves anywhere that would do permanent damage! He would tell us to pass up our homework, “Quick like a bunny,” and when asked if this was an easy or hard test, he always gave the same response, “Medium.”
When someone wasn’t paying attention (often that was me) he would tap on that person’s desk and sing, “Good morning to you!”
He had traveled many times to France and every Christmas, the last class before vacation was spent showing his slides of that beautiful country. For us, it brought the language alive.
He once related a very funny story to me. A jovial man, he was always very respectful and polite to parents during teacher/parent conferences. But one night, a student’s mother came to the school wearing a preposterous hat with large springs, from each dangled a piece of plastic fruit. Even the slightest nod of her head caused the entire contraption to bounce around, fruit everywhere. Father told me he nearly busted a gut to keep from laughing.
Father Clement Pelletier was a beautiful human being, an outstanding teacher, a terrific, loyal priest, and a genuine friend to all who knew him.
Rest in peace, Father Pelletier, You were one of the best priests — one of the best people — I ever met. My life is better because you were part of it.
Robert Gillis, BC High, proud member of the class of 1983.
The images in this post are from the BC High yearbook.