NEW YORK — R. Patrick Fitzgerald, OFM, 81, a professed Franciscan friar for 59 years and a priest for 53, died Dec. 9 at New York University Medical Center.
A wake will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 12 at St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street, with a wake service to follow. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated there at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 13 with Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, serving as principal celebrant and William Beaudin, OFM, as homilist. Burial will take place at 11 a.m. on Dec. 15 at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Totowa, N.J.
Born on March 17, 1933 in Buffalo, N.Y., to William and Florentine Fitzgerald, Patrick attended Bishop Timon High School. He studied at St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., from 1951 to 1954, before he was received into the Order in August of that year at St. Bonaventure Church in Paterson, N.J. He was given the religious name Brennan and professed first vows in Paterson one year later.
After studying philosophy at St. Francis College, Rye Beach, N.H., and theology at Holy Name College, Washington, D.C., Patrick professed solemn vows in 1958 at Christ the King Seminary in Allegany, N.Y. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1961 at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington. Following his ordination, Patrick spent a year of training in pastoral theology at St. Anthony Shrine, Boston.
The majority of Patrick’s life as a friar was spent in education and pastoral ministry. In 1962, he became an instructor at Archbishop Walsh High School in Olean, N.Y., where he taught religion, American history and economics for eight years. He received his master’s in education from St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, in 1970 and that same year became director of student activities there. Patrick held this position for 15 years, also serving as director of SBU’s Reilly Center from 1979 to 1985.
After a decade and a half at St. Bonaventure, Patrick requested a change in ministry and was assigned to St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City, where he remained for the rest of his life. Patrick served as an associate and worked in the ongoing formation program for nine years. In 1995, the popular confessor and spiritual director was appointed director of the parish’s senior services program, a role he held until his death. He also served as chaplain for the New York Police Department’s Midtown South Precinct.
In 1998, on his 65th birthday, he resumed using his baptismal name, Patrick. Patrick was a classmate of Mychal Judge, OFM, the first recorded victim of the Sept. 11 tragedy.
Patrick is survived by a niece, Terri Dowd of West Seneca, N.Y., and several cousins.
Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars-Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd St., New York NY 10001.
— Compiled by Maria Hayes