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Rev. Msgr. Martin T. Geraghty

Deceased: 2023-04-09


Seminary Graduation Year: 1965

CSM Graduation Year: 1970

Monsignor Martin T. Geraghty, the beloved former pastor of St. Francis de Sales, passed away last Sunday morning, the parish announced on Facebook. Geraghty, who served the parish for 18 years, was in hospice care at Calvary Hospital at NYU Lutheran in Brooklyn during his final days.

Father Bill Sweeney, the current pastor of St. Francis de Sales, and Father Jim Cunningham, the parish’s pastoral associate, were both sitting in the dining room with family when they received the call that Monsignor Geraghty had passed away.

“We knew it was coming,” said Father Jim Cunningham during mass on Monday. “It’s kind of appropriate that early on Easter morning he experienced the resurrection, this great, faithful, holy priest.”

Geraghty was born on March 6, 1940, in Brooklyn and attended St. Francis Xavier parish and school in Park Slope. Feeling a call to the priesthood at a young age, Geraghty enrolled in the Diocese of Brooklyn’s six-year minor seminary program between Cathedral Prep High School in Elmhurst and Cathedral College in Douglaston.

During this time, Geraghty enjoyed a wide array of extracurricular activities, from singing in the school’s choir and writing for the school’s newspapers, to fielding grounders as an infielder for the school’s baseball team and snagging rebounds as a forward for the school’s basketball team.

After graduating in 1959, Geraghty left New York to study at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland and eventually the Pontifical North American College in Rome. His years of studying paid off on Dec. 16, 1964 when Geraghty became Father Geraghty as he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Francis F. Reh at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

As a newly ordained priest, Father Geraghty started his ministry as an assistant at St. Elizabeth’s in Ozone Park in 1965 and St. Joan of Arc in Jackson Heights from 1965 until 1968. Shortly after, Father Geraghty returned to his old stomping grounds and joined the faculty of Cathedral College, where he taught for almost 20 years.

In 1988, Father Geraghty was named the pastor of St. Francis de Sales, an assignment that ultimately defined his priesthood. Two years after the assignment, Father Geraghty was named a monsignor.

In the 16 years that followed, Monsignor Geraghty, who was of Irish descent from Westport, County Mayo, began to feel at home in Rockaway, where he came to know his parishioners and support them during their best and worst moments. Nothing, however, could have prepared Monsignor Geraghty for the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Belle Harbor, just two months apart.

During this time, Monsignor Geraghty presided over 12 memorial services for members of St. Francis de Sales who died on 9/11, the last of which was three days before the crash of Flight 587 on Nov. 12, 2001. In the aftermath of both tragedies, Monsignor Geraghty became a source of support for grieving parishioners.

Monsignor Geraghty’s support, however, went beyond St. Francis de Sales. While pastor, he was active in “pan-religious organizations” like the Rockaway Catholic-Jewish Council. He also served as the chairman of the Diocese’s Catholic-Jewish Relations Committee, the first director of the Diocesan Language School, and the chaplain of the NYPD Emerald Society.

As a result of his service, the news of Monsignor Geraghty’s departure from St. Francis de Sales in 2006 was met with harsh pushback from members of the community, who petitioned Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio to reconsider his decision that Geraghty would become the new pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine in Bayside after the sudden passing of Monsignor John Lavin.

“It’s hard to leave. I’ve been here for 18 years,” Geraghty said at the time. “I love it here, and I love the people. It’s my life.”

Despite the new assignment, Monsignor Geraghty stayed connected to Rockaway in the years that followed, often returning for weddings and funerals and to fill in for the peninsula’s parishes. In 2014, Monsignor Geraghty celebrated 50 years as a priest before retiring the following year and receiving the Father Mychal Judge Memorial Award.

Per Monsignor Geraghty’s wishes, he will be waked at St. Francis de Sales on Wednesday and Thursday from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. The mass of transferral will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday night, and the funeral mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Friday. He will be buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Staten Island.

As the parishioners of St. Francis de Sales grieve their former pastor, many can find comfort in the words that Monsignor Geraghty spoke prior to leaving the parish in 2006.

“I appreciate that they want me to stay…And they know I love them,” said Monsignor Geraghty. “I’ll still have sand in my shoes.”