Reverend John J. Unni
Father John Unni grew up in North Reading, Massachusetts. Before entering the seminary, Father John taught English at Christopher Columbus High School in Boston’s North End and ran his own landscaping business. He attended St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, where he earned a master of divinity degree and was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Boston in June of 1992. For the past 17 years, he has been pastor of Saint Cecilia Parish where he has focused his ministry on education, health, and spiritual growth—especially for those who are marginalized and impoverished. When he’s not presiding at Mass, Father John keeps busy by serving on the board of directors of Pine Street Inn, Saint Cecilia House, a residence for seniors of limited income in the Fenway, and Health Equity International, an organization dedicated to providing essential health services to the people of southern Haiti, especially the most vulnerable.
Mark Donohoe has been an active parishioner at Saint Cecilia since 1989. He finally took the plunge and moved from volunteer to full-time employee in 1994. A graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, he also received a master’s degree in pastoral ministry from Boston College and is a certified pastoral associate. In this role, he is involved in all things liturgical and sacramental and is the go-to person for baptisms, weddings, annulments, and funerals.
Director of Facilities & Events
Lisa Pickering started at Saint Cecilia in February of 2016 and feels truly blessed to part of this thriving community. Her responsibilities include facility management and coordinating and executing the large parish events. Before joining our parish, Lisa worked for Catholic Charities in a family shelter for three and a half years where she managed the office and facilities and also direct care. While busy raising her family, she managed to take on a variety of jobs as a working mom including cleaning disabled adult homes, restaurant manager, and pharmacy technician. Lisa and her husband Ralph have been an active part of the Marriage Ministry at Saint Cecilia and have been married for almost 30 years. They have four children and one grandchild. Lisa has a personal connection with people struggling with addiction and is excited to start 12-Step meetings in our new community room space. Lisa and her family live in Hull where she enjoys cooking for family and friends and spending long days on the beach.
Director of Finance and Development
Colleen joined the Saint Cecilia staff in the summer of 2018, after being awarded a master of business administration and master of theological studies dual degree from Boston College. Prior to returning to graduate school, she completed her undergraduate studies at the College of the Holy Cross, did a post-graduate volunteer year in Ecuador, and directed service and immersion programs for the Holy Cross Chaplains’ Office. As the Director of Finance & Development at Saint Cecilia, Colleen works on business management, stewardship, and long-term strategic planning. In her free time, Colleen enjoys running and cooking.
Communications and Operations Manager
If you call the parish office or visit during the week, you’ll meet Leah, ready to help you get what you need! She also coordinates and arranges the bulletin, email blasts, other parish communications each week, and keeps many other “behind-the-scenes” things running at Saint Cecilia. She is also involved with an nonprofit in Kenya, Friends Kenya Rising, that works to assist students and their families as they rise out of poverty. A native of Maine, Leah loves to travel when unhampered by a global pandemic.
Director of Faith Formation and Parish Visibility
Scott MacDonald was raised in Wakefield, Massachusetts. He had been part of the Saint Cecilia community for many years but began officially working for Saint Cecilia in 1997 as Director of Faith Formation. Scott’s position is composed of three parts: faith formation, parish visibility, and development of lay ministerial leadership. While there are multiple facets to his career at Saint Cecilia, he most prefers his role as the director of faith formation because he enjoys accompanying individuals on their journey to developing a deeper faith in Jesus Christ. In an earlier life, Scott was the manager and caterer for the Hasty Pudding Club at Harvard and he also catered private events. In his free time, he enjoys reading, cooking, theater, and listening to music.
Director of Music
Rob oversees the music program at Saint Cecilia and also serves on the faculty at Brandeis University as associate professor of the practice of choral music. At Brandeis University Rob oversees the vocal program, conducts the Brandeis choral ensembles, teaches conducting and choral methods, and serves as the performance track adviser for vocalists. Rob has served on the faculties of Dartmouth College, Pomona College, Claremont Graduate University and Mount St. Mary’s College. He holds degrees in conducting, piano, and voice from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Temple University and the University of Southern California. Additionally, he served as director of music for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. An active commissioner of new music, Rob has given several world premieres of works for both orchestral and choral forces. He served as counsel to the New Hampshire Council on the Arts and is the past president of the Eastern Region of the American Choral Directors Association.
Giovanna Franchi is a familiar face to many of us. A longtime parishioner and South End resident, Giovanna joined the parish staff in 2020 to assist with pastoral care and to support the Saint Cecilia CARES ministry. Giovanna is a spiritual director with training in the Ignatian tradition and the Spiritual Exercises. She is a licensed mental health counselor with many years of private practice. Among her other areas of expertise, Giovanna has extensive experience in counseling individuals with substance abuse disorders, trauma, and grief. Oh, and she was also a flight attendant for 27 years! Giovanna is available for pastoral counseling and spiritual accompaniment. Email her to set up an appointment.
Fr. Jim Shaughnessy, SJ
Fr. Jim Shaughnessy, SJ joins the parish staff on a part-time basis to assist with pastoral support, the celebration of Mass, and the sacrament of reconciliation. Fr. Jim joins the cadre of staff who graduated from the College of the Holy Cross. Born and raised in Dedham, Fr. Jim entered the Jesuits in 1971. He started working at Tufts Medical Center in 1986, a committment he’s maintained, volunteering at Tufts Medical Center in the palliative care department. Fr. Jim looks forward to seeing new and old faces as all continue to venture out!