Full of Grace – Msgr. Francis Flaherty, served for decades in Atlantic City

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flaherty-webBefore spending the last 55 years of his life serving the Catholic Church in South Jersey as a diocesan priest, Msgr. Francis Flaherty served his country for four years in the United States Coast Guard, where his work included convoy duty in the North Atlantic.

It was this love of service, first to his country and later to his faith, before he died on Aug. 6, 2010 at the age of 92, which separated Msgr. Flaherty from the rest.

He was a respected clergyman of the Diocese of Camden but he held a special place in Atlantic City, where he spent the largest portion of his years of active ministry.

Born in Camden on Feb. 1, 1918, he attended St. Mary Grammar School and Camden Catholic High School, graduating from the latter in 1937.

After graduation from high school, he worked at the Campbell Soup Company, before joining the U.S. Coast Guard.

Four years later, Msgr. Flaherty entered the College of South Jersey, and after his education there and at St. Philip Seminary in Boston; and Christ the King Seminary in St. Bonaventure, N.Y., he was ordained a priest on March 26, 1955 in Camden. His first assignment was as parochial vicar at St. James, Ventnor, where he stayed until 1960.

He served as parochial vicar, as well, at Holy Saviour, Westmont (1960-63) and St. Joseph, Camden (1963-65) before being named administrator at St. Monica, Atlantic City (1965-74), and eventually pastor at Our Lady Star of the Sea, Atlantic City in 1974, remaining there until his retirement in 1993.

Researched by Peter G. Sánchez and James A. McBride