Father Gerald T. Connor passed away Dec. 7, 2012, at the age of 84.
A Rochester native, Father Connor attended Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish as a child before entering St. Andrew’s Seminary in Rochester in 1942. After completing his studies at St. Andrew’s followed by St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester, he was ordained by Bishop James E. Kearney on June 5, 1954, at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Father Connor’s first assignment was at St. Monica Parish in Rochester, where he served as assistant pastor from 1954-58. He later served as assistant pastor at St. Alphonsus Parish in Auburn from 1958-64, St. Ann Parish in Hornell from 1964-68 and St. Joseph Parish in Penfield from 1968-71. He became diocesan director of vocations and spiritual director of Becket Hall in 1971 and served in those positions until 1977.
He always was willing to serve as a mentor for seminarians and young priests, even after his days at Becket Hall, and was active on the diocesan team that taught pastors how to be good supervisors for priest interns, noted his longtime friend Father Bernard Dollen.
After leaving Becket Hall and his post as diocesan vocations director, he became pastor of St. Pius Tenth Parish in Chili in 1977 and served there until his retirement in 1998. During that time he also served as parochial administrator of St. Christopher Parish in North Chili for two months in 1989. While he was there Father Connor’s parishioners always were first and foremost in his mind, remarked Father John Rosse, another of Father Connor’s close friends.
"He was a good parish priest, a good pastor. He was always there for his parishioners," said Father Rosse, who was in Father Connor’s class at St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s.
Building relationships with parishioners had been one of Father Connor’s favorite parts of his ministry, he told the Catholic Courier in 2004 when he celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination.
"You belong to them and they belong to you. It’s a very strong relationship," he said. "There’s tremendous variety in a parish. You cover the whole gamut of human emotions and feelings."
After retiring, Father Connor ministered as needed at Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Theodore Parish in Gates for several years. He also was a member of the Knights of Columbus.
Father Connor was extremely loyal to God, the church and his friends, Father Rosse noted. He also was a strong leader who was very proud of his Irish heritage, Father Rosse said.
"He was very kind to everyone. He had a great sense of humor," Father Dollen added.
Father Connor was predeceased by his nieces, Diane Kelly and Darci Degnan. He is survived by his sister, Ann (Louis) Fien; nephews and nieces, Tom (Lynda) Fien, Nancy (Paul) Keim, Ken (Marie) Fien, Bob (Nicole) Fien, David (Karen) Fien, Mary Kay Degnan, Beth (Alan) Yost; many great-nieces and nephews; and good friend, Ross Hansen.
Father Connor will lie in state at Mercy Prayer Center, 1437 Blossom Road, Brighton, on Dec. 9, 2012, beginning at 3 p.m., with evening prayer beginning at 7 p.m. He also will lie in state at St. Pius Tenth Church, 3010 Chili Ave., Chili, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Dec. 10, 2012. Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark will preside at Father Connor’s funeral Dec. 10, 2012, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Pius Tenth Church.