Msgr. Fitzsimmons, canon lawyer and pastor, dies


fitzsimmonseugene-webMsgr. Eugene J. Fitzsimmons, a priest remembered for his pastoral skills, knowledge of canon law, friendly relations with non-Catholics and general good humor, died May 9. He was 81.
He was a pastor for 22 years, serving longest at St. Michael Parish, Gibbstown, 1985-2000. He was also pastor at St. John the Baptist, Camden, 1978-84, and Immaculate Conception, Camden, 1984-85.
A canon lawyer, for five decades Msgr. Fitzsimmons served with the Tribunal, most recently as promoter of justice.
He retired in 2009.
Msgr. Fitzsimmons also served for years as ecumenical officer for the diocese.
Father David Klein, current judicial vicar for the Diocese of Camden, began working in the Tribunal in 2002, when Msgr. Fitzsimmons was judicial vicar for the court of second instance. “He was a genuinely nice man, affable, a good priest, and very thorough with his work,” said Father Klein.
Even after retirement, Msgr. Fitzsimmons was always happy to impart his knowledge of canon law to Father Klein. “He was well-read on issues and topics, and was a resource. He readily and easily shared his wealth of information and experience.”
Msgr. Leonard Scott, who worked many years with Msgr. Fitzsimmons in the Office of the Tribunal, recalled a “friendly and jovial” priest who was “meticulous” in his work. “He worked hard and studied the law,” he said.
Born in Newark, Msgr. Fitzsimmons studied for the priesthood at St. Charles College, Catonsville, Md.; Jordon Seminary, Monimnee, Mich.; and at St. Charles Seminary, Overbrook, Pa.
He was ordained on June 11, 1960 at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Camden. He earned a doctorate in canon law from North American College in Rome.
His first assignment was as parochial vicar, Our Lady Star of the Sea, Cape May, 1960-61. He also served as parochial vicar at Holy Maternity, Audubon, 1969-71; Immaculate Conception, Camden, 1971-75; and St. John, Collingswood, 1977-78.
He was administrator of St. Martin de Porres, Hammonton. 1975-77. He was also on the faculty at Camden Catholic High School, Cherry Hill, and was the State Regent of the Catholic Daughters of America.
A funeral Mass was celebrated May 13 at St. Rose of Lima Church, Haddon Heights.