Musically talented priest Father Gorman dies at 62

| January 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

Father James David Gorman, a priest known for his music in ministry, died Jan. 4 at age 62.

Father Gorman was born March 13, 1954, in Red Wing and ordained to the priesthood May 30, 1981, at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. After growing up in Goodhue and completing a degree in music, he studied for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul.

Father James Gorman

Father Gorman first served at the Cathedral of St. Paul as an associate pastor from 1981 to 1984. He spent his final 16 years of active ministry at Risen Savior in Burnsville as the assistant pastor from 1995 until he retired in 2011 due to an ongoing battle with cancer.

The first thing really that comes into mind when I think of him is, he was a very spiritual, joyful, faith-filled person,” said Marianne Brass, who had known Father Gorman since 1995 as a Risen Savior parishioner and later as a staff member.

Brass worked with Father Gorman when she joined the parish staff in 1999. She is now the parish’s communications and community life coordinator.

Brass said Father Gorman took time to connect with parishioners and excelled at ministering to the sick.

He would be always very compassionate when he went and visited the sick in the hospital or he went to anoint people,” Brass said. “I always heard that from the families — how compassionate he was and how nice he was when he came to visit.”

People also knew Father Gorman for his passion for the arts, particularly music. He could play the trumpet, flute and piano in addition to singing well.

He sometimes played the piano and sang for his homilies at Mass, sometimes with music he wrote. He also used icons and art in his homilies.

When he would give homilies with his music, it was just wonderful to hear because he would sing some of them,” said Angela Bitzenhofer, a Risen Savior parishioner who had known Father Gorman since 1995.

Outside of the liturgy, Father Gorman would share his musical talents in various parish events. He also used icons when teaching the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, which Neil Bitzenhofer, Angela’s husband, witnessed while serving with the RCIA team.

Each October or November, he would have an icon presentation for the candidates where he would lay out all these icons with candles in front of them,” Neil said. “Then we would have readings, and he would talk about each of the icons.”

After his retirement, Father Gorman continued to assist at Risen Savior and other parishes where he could despite his continued battle with cancer. The Bitzenhofers often drove Father Gorman to and from Rochester for his cancer treatments.

He always kept his sense of humor,” Neil said. “He always had a good outlook even though things were bad.”

Father Gorman kept up his musical endeavors in his final years, too. That included playing the piano at the funeral of his mother, Jeanette, in 2015.

A funeral Mass for Father Gorman will be 10 a.m. Jan. 10 at Risen Savior. Visitation will begin one hour before the Mass. Interment will be set for a later date in St. Columbkill cemetery in Goodhue.

Besides his ministry at Risen Savior and the Cathedral, Father Gorman’s other associate pastor assignments included: Incarnation, Minneapolis (1984-1987); Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, Bloomington (1987-1990) and St. John the Baptist, New Brighton (1990-1991). He also served at St. John the Baptist in Vermillion as parochial administrator from October 1991 to April 1993.

Father Gorman then served as a pastor of St. Boniface in St. Bonifacius and St. Mary of Czestochowa in Delano from 1993 to 1995. He also served as parochial administrator at Immaculate Conception, Watertown, in 1993.

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Category: Local News, Obituaries