Father James F. Slattery, a diocesan priest for nearly 64 years and founding pastor of Brighton’s Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, died May 11, 2005, at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Pittsford after an extended illness. He was 89 years old.
Father Slattery was born in Rochester and grew up in St. Monica’s Parish. He attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries and was ordained in 1941. He served as assistant pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Brighton, from 1941-50; St. Ignatius Loyola, Hornell, from 1950-53; and St. Vincent de Paul, Corning, from 1953-60.
In 1960 Father Slattery took over the reins of the brand-new Our Lady Queen of Peace community, and he remained there as its pastor for the next 26 years.
“He was very generous, cooperative and wonderful to minister with. And he was well respected by the teachers, students and parents,” said Sister of Mercy Judy Kenrick, who was principal of the former parish school from 1964-76, when she was known as Sister Mary Karen. “His efforts and accommodating spirit have made Queen of Peace Church what it is today. He loved it, he loved it — and he did so many extra things behind the scenes.”
Father Slattery’s sister, Sister of St. Joseph Jamesetta Slattery, said her brother thought highly of his parish community.
“The people were magnificent to him. Anything he wanted to do, he could rely on them to see it through,” she remarked.
Father Paul Wohlrab, who lives in retirement at Spencerport’s St. John the Evangelist, first met Father Slattery in 1929 when they entered St. Andrew’s Seminary together. They remained close friends over the years; he, Father Slattery, the late Msgr. Leslie Whalen and the late Auxiliary Bishop Dennis W. Hickey often met for Friday-night fish fries. Sister Slattery also noted that her brother was given a membership at Oak Hill Country Club at the time of his ordination, and would play golf on Thursdays for many years.
“All of us always admired how he knew everybody, it seemed, wherever he would go. He was a very personable person,” Father Wohlrab recalled. “Whenever he met anybody, he was so interested in them that it immediately got to be a nice relationship with him. And, of course, that happened especially with his parishioners.”
For such a strong ability to connect with people, Father Slattery was actually a bit on the quiet side, his sister said.
“He had that kind of a personality. Of all things he was a good listener,” remarked Sister Slattery, who currently resides on the same floor of the motherhouse where her brother lived.
Father Slattery retired in 1986 and moved to St. Louis Church in Pittsford, where he remained highly active. Sister Kenrick was reunited with him 10 years ago when she began working at St. Louis, where she serves as a pastoral associate.
“Whenever he was called upon for anything, he was always there to do it,” she said.
Father Slattery entered the Sisters of St. Joseph Convent Infirmary in 1999 and moved to the newly constructed SSJ facility in 2003. Five years ago he attended the opening of the James Slattery Building, a parish center at Our Lady Queen of Peace.
Father Slattery is survived by his sisters, Sister Slattery and Josephine S. Tuohey, and many nieces and nephews.
His funeral Mass was to take place May 14 at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, with Bishop Matthew H. Clark presiding. Interment was to be at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester.
Memorial donations may be made to the James Slattery Building at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church or to the Sisters of St. Joseph Infirmary.