Father Thomas Hoctor; chaplain, teacher - Catholic Courier

Father Thomas Hoctor; chaplain, teacher

Father Thomas Hoctor, former longtime chaplain at Rochester Psychiatric Center, died March 22, 2011 in Alpharetta, Ga. He was 79.

Father Hoctor was born in Rochester, where he belonged to Corpus Christi Parish. He attended the parish school before completing his seminary training at St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries, also in Rochester. He also earned master’s degrees from the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Cornell University and the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University.

Bishop Lawrence B. Casey ordained Father Hoctor on June 8, 1957 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester.

After his ordination, Father Hoctor served as assistant pastor at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Irondequoit from 1957-59 and St. James Parish, also in Irondequoit, from 1959-61. He returned to St. Andrew’s Seminary in 1961 as a professor of English and literature, teaching there until 1967. He also taught English at Nazareth College from 1964-67. In 1968 Father Hoctor became an English professor at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, and in 1974 he left there to become Catholic chaplain at University of Rochester.

After ministering to the students at University of Rochester for one year, he moved in 1975 to become associate pastor at St. Louis Parish in Pittsford. He served there until 1978, when he became full-time chaplain at Rochester Psychiatric Center, where he would serve until his retirement in 2000. Father Hoctor was a "wonderfully pastoral and compassionate presence" at the center, noted his friend, Father Robert Ring.

Father Hoctor was a member of the Clergy Health Board and was president of New York’s Chaplain Association from 1980-85. He also belonged to the state’s Catholic Chaplain Committee for many years.

After his 2000 retirement, Father Hoctor continued to work part-time at the psychiatric center and assisted at Holy Trinity Parish in Webster. He later moved to Alpharetta, Ga., where he taught a class on the Middle Ages and served as a chaplain with the St. Joseph Cafasso prison ministry at Hays State Prison.

Father Hoctor was a warm and thoughtful man who had a great sense of humor and valued friendship, Father Ring said. He maintained many of his friendships with diocesan priests even after he moved to Georgia.

"He was a good friend to many of us over the years. He had a deep concern for the well-being of his brother priests, and often went out of his way to put that concern into action when a fellow priest needed extra support or help," he said.

Father Hoctor is survived by his sister, Sister Marion Hoctor, SSJ, of Rochester; his sister-in-law, Barbara Hoctor of McKinney, Texas; and by his friends and caregivers, Theresa and Robert Lynch of Alpharetta, Ga. He also is survived by many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.

His funeral Mass was celebrated March 25 at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Alpharetta, Ga. A Memorial Mass has been scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on April 18 at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse, 150 French Road, Pittsford. Interment will be at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester.

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