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Rev. Msgr. Richard E. McCabe, MSW

Deceased: 2009-09-12

Diocese: AUSTIN

CSM Graduation Year: 1975


Monsignor Richard McCabe, the long-serving pastor of Emmaus Catholic Parish in Lakeway and founder of Caritas of Austin, died Saturday, September 12, 2009, four days shy of his 80th birthday. The Rev. Larry Connelly, a longtime friend, said McCabe had been under hospice care for several weeks.

McCabe leaves behind a legacy of four decades of service in the Austin area, both as the leader of the church he helped found and as the creator of the nonprofit charity that helps feed and house the homeless. He also founded the area’s Big Brothers program, as well as several programs that help aid drunken-driving offenders.

“He was a very compassionate, very dedicated man,” said the Rev. Samuel Hose, who is now pastor at Emmaus Catholic Parish.

Hose said McCabe had a knack for getting things done and for finding the right people to do them.

In a 2005 American-Statesman article published right before McCabe’s retirement, a friend described him as a “hardheaded Irishman who never gives up.”

“When he made up his mind something was going to happen, it happened,” Hose said.

McCabe was raised in Milwaukee and served in the U.S. Army in the 1950s.

Connelly said McCabe had a conversation with an Army chaplain while stationed in Germany about entering the priesthood.

The chaplain told him there were many priests in Milwaukee, but not many in Austin, so that’s where he was most needed.

“Austin wasn’t all that big back then,” Connelly said. “It was basically just the University of Texas and the state government.”

McCabe began in 1958 as an assistant pastor in an Austin church but commuted to Lakeway to say Mass in people’s homes.

In 1963, he helped found the Lakeway Ecumenical Church, which served both Catholics and Protestants until the two congregations separated in the mid-1990s.

Under McCabe’s direction, the church in Lakeway blossomed into a real parish, Connelly said, in part because of McCabe’s ability to draw people to the service.

Hose said a vigil will be held Wednesday evening for McCabe at the Lakeway church, followed by a funeral Thursday.