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Rev. Msgr. Charles E. McGroarty

Deceased: 2020-03-17


Seminary Graduation Year: 1963

Rev. Msgr. Charles E. McGroarty

Msgr. Charles E. McGroarty, 86, a leader of Catholic family life programs and pastor emeritus of St. Matthew parish in Philadelphia, died Tuesday, March 17, of a ruptured aortic aneurysm at Holy Redeemer Hospital.

Born in Collingdale to Edward and Margaret McGroarty, he graduated from St. James High School in Chester and earned a bachelor’s degree in science from what is now St. Joseph’s University.

While Msgr. McGroarty was in college in 1953, his mother died. Influenced by her loss and the advice of his pastor at St. Joseph parish in Collingdale, he felt a call to religious life. He enrolled in St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.

Since he hadn’t taken Greek and Latin at St. Joseph’s, and because seminaries had exacting language requirements then, he was advised that he would have to repeat his college studies. He agreed, and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree.

In 1959, he was sent by Cardinal John O’Hara to study at Rome’s Gregorian University, and was ordained a priest in Rome on Dec. 19, 1962. He completed his studies in sacred theology in 1963 before returning to Philadelphia.

Msgr. McGroarty served for a short time as an assistant at St. Raphael parish before becoming a math and religion teacher at Roman Catholic High School.

He studied at Catholic University of America in Washington for a master’s degree in sociology and marriage counseling, and then returned to St. Charles Borromeo as an instructor in moral theology. Later, he became an associate professor of sociology in the seminary’s college division.

As the Catholic Church became more interested in family life, Msgr. McGroarty was appointed assistant director of the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s Family Life Bureau in 1966 and its director in 1972. His staff numbered almost a dozen.

In recognition of his contributions to marriage and the family, he was named a monsignor in 1976.

In 1987, Msgr. McGroarty was named pastor of St. Matthew parish. He remained there until 2014, when he became pastor emeritus with residence at St. Joseph in Collingdale, returning to the parish where his religious aspirations had begun.

Msgr. McGroarty is survived by many nieces and nephews.

A memorial Mass and life celebration is being delayed by the coronaviru pandemic, but will be held later at St. Matthew.

Donations may be made to the Friends of St. Matt’s, 3000 Cottman Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19149.