ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Roch Coogan, OFM, 84, a professed Franciscan friar for 63 years and a priest for 58, died Aug. 1 at St. Anthony’s Hospital.
A wake and wake service were held Aug. 4 in the friar’s chapel at St. Anthony Friary, St. Petersburg. Guardian James Toal, OFM, celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial on Aug. 5 at St. Mary’s Our Lady of Grace Church in St. Petersburg. Burial followed at Calvary Catholic Cemetery, Clearwater, Fla.
Born Nov. 18, 1928 to Joseph and Mary Coogan, Roch was baptized Thomas David on Dec. 2, 1928 at St. James Church in Haverhill. He attended Norwich, Conn., Free Academy for two years before entering St. Joseph Seminary, Callicoon, N.Y., in 1943, where he completed high school and the first two years of college.
Roch was received into the Order on Aug. 12, 1948, taking the religious name Roch Anthony. He professed simple vows one year later. Roch studied philosophy at St. Stephen’s Friary, Croghan, N.Y., and St. Anthony Friary, Butler, N.J., receiving his bachelor’s degree from St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y., in 1951.
He then pursued theological studies at Holy Name College, Washington, where he professed solemn vows on Sept. 17, 1952. In 1954, he was ordained to the priesthood at the Franciscan Monastery, Mount St. Sepulchre, in Washington.
Roch’s first assignment was parochial vicar at Holy Name Parish in Garfield, N.J., where he served from 1955 to 1957. He then served one year as pastoral associate at St. Francis Chapel in Providence, R.I., before becoming a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force, a role he held until 1964.
For the next three years, he served at parishes in New Jersey, including St. Ann’s Parish in Fair Lawn and St. Leo’s Parish in Elmwood Park. In 1973, he earned a master’s degree in education from Iona College, New Rochelle, N.Y.
Roch then filled a variety of roles in the South, including serving as chaplain and director of the pastoral care department at St. Anthony’s Hospital until 1980. In the spring of 1981, he attended the Institute for Continuing Theological Education at the North American College in Rome. Later that year, he began special duty for the U.S. Air Force in St. Petersburg until he was appointed pastor of St. Mary Parish in Americus, Ga., in July 1982.
From 1985 to 1993, he served at ministries in the south, including as campus minister at Georgia State University in Atlanta, pastor of Our Divine Savior Parish in Tifton, Ga., and guardian of St. Anthony Friary, St. Petersburg.
Roch joined the HNP Ministry of the Word team in 1999 while he was residing at St. James Parish, Belleair Bluffs, Fla. He returned to St. Anthony Friary as senior associate friary in 2004 before moving to Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa, Fla., where he remained for one year. In 2006, he returned to St. Petersburg and, in 2009, retired as chaplain at Bay Pines Veterans Administration Medical Center.
Roch was predeceased by his parents and stepmother, Susan Coogan.
Donations in memory of Roch may be made out to: Franciscan Friars-Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd St., New York, NY 10001.