Msgr. Flaherty, former Atlantic City pastor, dies

Msgr. John Francis Flaherty, who was for decades an influential priest in the Diocese of Camden and especially Atlantic City, died Monday, Aug. 2, at Villa Raffaella in Pleasantville.

He was 92 and had been a priest for 55 years.

He was pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea, Atlantic City, 1974-93, and administrator of St. Monica, Atlantic City, 1965-74. He had been retired since 1993.

Msgr. Flaherty, born in Camden to Mary and Patrick J. Flaherty on Feb. 1, 1918, attended St. Mary’s Grammar School and Camden Catholic High School, graduating from the latter in 1937.

After graduation, he worked at the Campbell Soup Company, before joining the United States Coast Guard in 1942. After four years, which included convoy duty in the North Atlantic, he entered the College of South Jersey, completing his studies in 1948.

After studying at Christ the King Seminary, he was ordained on March 26, 1955 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Camden.

He was parochial vicar at St. James Ventnor, 1955; Holy Saviour, Westmont, 1960-63; and St. Joseph, Camden, 1963-65.

He was also a member of the Priests Council, Vocation Advisory Board, Presbyteral Council, Inter-Parochial Board, and the Diocesan Ecumenical Commission.

Msgr. Dominic Bottino, Parochial Vicar at Divine Mercy Parish in Vineland, knew Msgr. Flaherty for 40 years, dating back to when Msgr. Bottino was a transitional deacon at Holy Spirit, Atlantic City, where Msgr. Flaherty was pastor.

During Msgr. Flaherty’s pastorship at Our Lady Star of the Sea, Msgr. Bottino was assigned there, as well, as a Parochial Vicar.

Calling his friend “faithful, jovial, humble, and energetic…most in love with the poor,” Msgr. Bottino spoke of a man who was “built like a bulldog,” and so devoted to learning Scripture that he would re-write the Bible in his own hand, and of a man who would spend late hours, after a long day, giving Communion to the sick.

Msgr. Bottino also recalled his constant energy.

“For those who knew him we cannot recall a time when he was not in motion — in ministry, in thoughts, in recreation, and in prayer.”

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday, Aug. 6, 10:30 a.m. at Our Lady Star of the Sea, Atlantic City. Interment will be at Calvary Cemetery, Cherry Hill.

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