Brother remembers Father Roach for love of sports, family farm

| June 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

Jerry Roach will miss the Saturday morning phone calls he got for more than two decades from his brother, Father Francis Roach, who died June 14 at age 89.

When Father Roach retired from active ministry in 1997, he moved to Faribault but stayed connected to his family. His younger brother, Jerry Roach, lives on a 120-acre farm near Prior Lake, and looked forward to the weekly conversations that centered on news updates on the community and pro sports.

Father Francis Roach

“He’d call me on schedule every Saturday morning. … You could expect his call at 10 or 10:30,” Jerry Roach, 83, recalled. “The first thing he’d say was, ‘What’s the news today?’”

Talk often would turn to the Minnesota Twins and Vikings. It evoked memories of when the two of them would go to games at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington while Father Roach was assigned nearby. He often got tickets during his time at Nativity of Mary, 1959-1965. Other assignments were as an assistant pastor at St. John (1956-1959) and St. Andrew (1965-1969), both in St. Paul, and St. Austin in Minneapolis (1969-1971). He was pastor of St. John Vianney in South St. Paul (1971-1984) and St. Joseph in Rosemount (1984-1997).

The games and sports talk were a continuation of a relationship that developed on the family farm. It was there that Francis had his first thoughts about the priesthood. Eventually, he left the farm and went to Nazareth Hall, and was ordained a priest of what was the Archdiocese of St. Paul June 2, 1956.

Just six months later, his other brother, Jim, drowned in Mill Pond Lake in Jordan at the age of 17. One year after his ordination, Father Roach presided at Jerry’s wedding to Lorraine at St. Therese in St. Paul. They have four children, including two sons who work on the farm.

That farm, which has been in the family more than 130 years, was a place Father Roach visited often throughout his life. Sunday dinners were common, sometimes occurring after Jerry and his brother attended a Vikings game. Jerry was always drawn to his brother’s positive attitude and willingness to help anyone in need.

“He was very dedicated. … He would help anybody else, no matter what it was,” Jerry said. “He never knew how to say no to anybody.”

Father Roach also maintained a cheerful disposition, even when his health was failing near the end of his life.

“He always had a smile on [his face], he always really showed a good attitude,” Jerry said. “Up to the day before he died, he had a smile. … He still was lucky enough to give a smile a couple times that last day before he died.”

The brothers were cousins of Archbishop John Roach, who led the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis from 1975 to 1995, and who died in 2003.

A visitation will be held 3-7 p.m. June 22 at St. Michael in Prior Lake, with a rosary at 7 p.m. led by the Rosemount and Prior Lake Knights of Columbus Assemblies. The funeral Mass will be 10 a.m. June 23, with visitation from 8:30-9:45 a.m. Interment will be in St. Michael Cemetery in Prior Lake.

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Category: Local News