Father Francis Patrick Gaffney, retired pastor and educator, dies

Father Francis Patrick Gaffney, retired pastor and educator, dies

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Father Francis Patrick Gaffney, 78, a retired educator and pastor, died July 3.

Since 2010, Father Gaffney had been retired from active ministry, after serving 46 years at Catholic schools and parishes in the Diocese of Camden.

Born in Roscommon, Ireland, he was ordained a priest on June 14, 1964 in Thurles, Ireland by Bishop Thomas Morris, and soon came to Westmont, where he began his first assignment as parochial vicar at Holy Saviour until 1967.

He served as pastor at Saint Ann Parish, Elmer from 1991 until 1994, when he then began a pastorship at Mary, Mother of the Church in Bellmawr, serving until 1999. A year later, after ministering in-residence at Saint Luke, Stratford (1999-2000), he returned to Saint Ann, serving first as administrator, and then as pastor, until 2003.

His last assignment was as senior priest at Saint Mary Parish, Cherry Hill.

Father Gaffney was parochial vicar of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Camden, 1967-68; Saint Nicholas, Egg Harbor, 1968-72; Saint Peter, Pleasantville, 1972-73; Transfiguration, West Collingswood, 1981-84; Most Holy Redeemer, Westville Grove, 1986-89; and Saint Luke, Stratford, 1989-91.

In addition to his parish work, Father Gaffney has served on the faculty of the Cathedral Academy in Camden; Saint Joseph High School, Hammonton; and Paul VI High School, Haddon Township. He also was active in the Diocesan Tribunal for many years as an auditor, judicial vicar and judge.

Father John Killeen was pastor at Saint Mary Parish in Cherry Hill, while Father Gaffney was In-Residence there and working in the Tribunal. He recalled a “straight shooter” with an “extraordinary mind.”

“What he said was what he believed in, and he was a deep thinker,” Father Killeen said, adding that his friend had a passion for astronomy.

“He would spend nights admiring the stars, and he knew them all by name,” he said.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on the morning of Saturday, July 9 at Saint Clare of Assisi Parish, Church of Saint Michael, in Gibbstown. Interment will be in Ireland.

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