Father Jeremiah Moynihan, longtime pastor and hospital chaplain, passed away March 28, 2014, at Rochester General Hospital after a long illness. He was 74.
Father Moynihan grew up in Rochester’s St. Monica Parish, where he attended the parish school before completing his seminary training at St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester. He spent several years as a friar at the Trappist Abbey of the Genesee in Piffard before earning his bachelor’s degree from St. John Fisher College, said Father William Leone, one of Father Moynihan’s classmates at the Pittsford college. The two became fast friends because they grew up in similar neighborhoods on Rochester’s west side and shared a love of sports, especially Notre Dame football, the New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals. Father Moynihan was very loyal to his friends, Father Leone noted.
"Once you became a friend of his, he would do anything for you and you could always count on him. If you needed anything he would be right there, doing the best he could for you," Father Leone said.
Father Moynihan was ordained by Auxiliary Bishop John E. McCafferty on March 15, 1974, at St. Stephen Church in Geneva. After ordination Father Moynihan served as associate pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Corning until 1977, when he became associate pastor at Holy Cross Parish in Charlotte. In 1982 he left that post to become chaplain at St. James Mercy Hospital in Hornell, where he served until 1998. While ministering at the hospital he also served as pastor at St. Ignatius Parish in Hornell from 1984-98.
After leaving Hornell in 1998 Father Moynihan became pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Elmira. Eight years later he also became parochial administrator of neighboring St. Casimir and St. Charles Borromeo parishes, which in 2009 merged with Our Lady of Lourdes to form Christ the Redeemer Parish. When he retired from his pastorate at Christ the Redeemer in 2010, Father Moynihan said he felt privileged to have been able to be a part of so many people’s lives and he cherished the opportunities to comfort people during their lowest moments and celebrate with them during their most joyful times.
Father Moynihan was a compassionate priest who showed special concern for the poor and the sick and was especially attuned to the challenges faced by parents and families, Father Leone noted. After emigrating to the United States from Ireland in search of a better life, Father Moynihan’s father supported his six sons and two daughters by working as a police officer in Rochester, Father Leone said.
"He really appreciated … the great jobs that moms and dads do for their kids and all they sacrifice for them," Father Leone said. "He would really sympathize with people and the struggles they faced, which made him a very good priest."
Father Moynihan is survived by his brothers, Michael (Gail), Thomas (Barbara), Martin (Debbie Leckinger), John (Rosie) and James (Hiroko) Moynihan; several nieces, nephews and cousins; and many dear friends.
Father Moynihan will lie in state April 2, 2014, from 4 to 7 p.m. and April 3, 2014, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 296 Flower City Park, Rochester. His funeral Mass will be held April 3, 2014, at 10:30 a.m. at the cathedral. Interment will be at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester. A memorial Mass will be held April 12, 2014, at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 1100 W. Church St., Elmira.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Clergy Relief Society, 4492 Lake Ave., Rochester, NY 14612.