A Mass of Christian Burial for Msgr. Joseph L. Stafford, pastor emeritus of Holy Family, Fresh Meadows, was celebrated June 7 at the church. He died June 4 at New York Hospital Queens. He was 80 years old.
Born in Brooklyn, Msgr. Stafford attended St. Therese of Lisieux School, Flatbush; Cathedral Prep and College, Brooklyn; and Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington. He was ordained June 1, 1957 by Bishop John J. Boardman at St. James Pro-Cathedral, Downtown Brooklyn.
He served as an assistant at Holy Rosary, Bedford-Stuyvesant, 1957, and later that year was assigned to the faculty of Cathedral Prep. He was appointed to the faculty of Cathedral Prep, Elmhurst, when it opened in 1963.
He served as pastor of St. Jerome, East Flatbush, 1978-89, and Holy Family, 1989-2007.
He also served as president of the Brooklyn-Queens CHSAA, 1968-78. He was named a monsignor in 1986.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio was the main celebrant of the funeral Mass. Special concelebrants included Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros, Msgr. William Flood, and Fathers Casper Furnari, James Frasser, Francis M. Lynch and Louis Aufiero. Msgr. Flood preached the homily.
Msgr. Flood, a friend since seminary days, said Msgr. Stafford was “a steady friendly good student, who was pleasant to be with.”
“During his time in Cathedral Prep, he was a math and science teacher,” recalled Msgr. Flood, who also was on faculty at Cathedral.
“He moderated some of the sports.”
Msgr. Flood remembered that that Msgr. Stafford was pastor at St. Jerome’s when fire heavily damaged the church building. “He was able to rally the community and rebuild the church,” he said.
Msgr. George Schuster, a classmate, said, “I lived with him at St. Jerome’s in Brooklyn. He was very precise. He was very much programmed to the lifestyle of being prompt, being forceful in his determination. His parish was always his main concern. He was a dedicated pastor, always dedicated to the people, to the sisters and to the students of the school. He was always present.
“He was a great sports fan. He was up to the minute with the Mets. He was a sports enthusiast and enjoyed playing tennis.
“He also loved to read historical books. “
Msgr. Stafford was predeceased by his brother, Msgr. Raymond Stafford. Burial was in Mount St. Mary Cemetery, Flushing.