Father Fitzpatrick remembered as ‘kind and gentle’ pastor

| January 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

In this file photo from 2005, Father John Fitzpatrick, right, helps Wilder Sosa learn English at MORE school in St.Paul. DAVE HRBACEK | THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT

When Jane Mohr of St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul Park first met Father John Fitzpatrick in the late 1970s, she was studying nursing and working on a college degree.

She would talk to him after Mass, and received encouragement in her desire to become an RN, she said. Father Fitzpatrick, who served as pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas from 1978 to 1987, died Jan. 7. He was 92.

“He was a kind and gentle man, and very good with parishioners,” said Mohr, 85, who worked as a nurse for about 12 years before retiring in 1997 at age 62. “At that point in my life, I had things I wished to discuss with him before I went back to college. He was just very kind, very helpful. He was willing to listen to people. And, that was one of the things I greatly appreciated about him.”

Father Fitzpatrick was born in St. Petersburg, Florida and later attended Nazareth Hall after moving to Minnesota. After that, he went to the St. Paul Seminary to study for the priesthood, and was ordained in 1952.

His longest assignment was at St. Andrew in St. Paul from 1952 to 1965. Other parish assignments include St. Mary of the Lake in Plymouth, Nativity of Mary in Bloomington, St. Timothy in Blaine, the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis and St. Joseph in Lino Lakes (now St. Joseph of the Lakes), which was his final assignment before retiring in 1995. He also served as a chaplain at Home of the Good Shepherd senior care facility and as the director of vocations for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

“He was just a very, very good man who helped our parish through a very tough time,” said Mohr, who joined the parish in 1959 and still is a member. “He held our parish together.”

She noted that Father Fitzpatrick came after another priest serving the parish, Father Thomas Adamson, had been arrested in 1977 after a young parishioner of St. Thomas Aquinas came forward and accused him of sexual abuse. After other claims were made, Adamson eventually was removed from ministry and laicized.

Mohr credits Father Fitzpatrick for helping the parish deal with the aftermath of the abuse, noting that “he was willing to talk to the people about it.”

The funeral Mass for Father Fitzpatrick will be 11 a.m. Jan. 24 at St. Timothy in Blaine, preceded by a one-hour visitation. Interment will be at Resurrection Cemetery in Mendota Heights.


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Category: Obituaries