Obituaries, Week of Feb. 12, 2022

Priest ‘Exuded a Certain Simple Holiness’

Msgr. Lawrence E. Hinch, a retired priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, died Thursday, Jan. 27, at age 88.

Msgr. Lawrence E. Hinch

Born on Sept. 11, 1933 in Brooklyn, Father Hinch attended Cathedral College in Douglaston, N.Y., graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in May 1955. He attended Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, N.Y.,  and was ordained to the priesthood May 30, 1959. He completed post-ordination studies at Catholic University, Ponce, Puerto Rico.

On February 25, 1988, Father Hinch was named Prelate of Honor (Msgr.) to His Holiness.

Msgr. Hinch served the Diocese of Brooklyn as parochial vicar of the Parish of Saints Peter and Paul, Brooklyn (1959); as director of the Saint Paul Cursillo Center (1966); and as pastor at the parishes of Saint Laurence, Brooklyn (1979), Saint Teresa, Woodside (1985) and Saint Teresa of Avila, South Ozone Park (1985). Later, Msgr. Hinch served as Active Senior Priest at the Parish of Holy Child Jesus, Richmond Hill (2005) and Temporary Administrator of Saint Anthony of Padua, South Ozone Park (2007).  In 2003, he retired to Holy Child Jesus Church, and in 2007 moved to Bishop Mugavero Residence for Senior Priests in Douglaston, and later to the Sunrise of Holbrook Residence, Holbrook, New York.

“I knew him for almost 40 years. He was a humble priest and a wonderful human being,” said Susana Villegas, a longtime parishioner at St.Teresa, Woodside, and Holy Child Jesus parishes, who would often perform Spanish translation duties for Msgr. Hinch. “He didn’t care where you were from … he just cared for you as a person.”

Msgr. Hinch is survived by a sister, Kathleen Dunphy; nephews Edward Dunphy, Thomas Gallagher, James Dunphy, and Shawn Dunphy; and nieces Patricia Yetman and Barbara Ann Freeman. A funeral Mass was held on Feb. 5 at Holy Child Jesus Church, Richmond Hill. Interment was at Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn.

Father Francis John Labita, a retired priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, died Jan. 31 at age 98. Father Labita was born on May 28, 1923 in New York and was ordained to the priesthood on June 11, 1949.

Father Francis John Labita

Father Labita served the Diocese of Brooklyn as pastor of the parish of Saint Patrick, Long Island City, (1977-1983). He also served as parochial vicar of the parishes of Our Lady of Angels, Brooklyn (1949); St. Mel, Flushing (1965); and Our Lady of Grace, Howard  Beach (1983).

“He was a kind, generous priest, very charitable, who exuded a certain simple holiness,” said Father Robert Powers, the current pastor at St. Patrick Church in Long Island City.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Friday, Feb. 4 at Immaculate Conception Center, Little Neck, New York. Interment was at St. John Cemetery, Middle Village, New York.

Sister Helen McTaggart, S.C., born September 26, 1932 in Manhattan, passed away Jan. 28 at Cabrini of Westchester, Dobbs Ferry, New York. Sister Helen was 89 and in her 71st year of commitment as a Sister of Charity.

Sister Helen McTaggart, S.C.

Sister Helen was one of two daughters and a son born to Michael and Catherine Walsh McTaggart. She graduated Saint Rose of Lima Elementary and Cathedral High School, both in Manhattan, and attended Saint John’s University in Queens for one year before entering the Sisters of Charity on September 8, 1951. She completed her BA in History at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, an MA in European History from Fordham University, and earned New York State Permanent Certification in Social Studies Grades 7-12. She later received a JD from Saint John’s University School of Law and was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1978.

Sister Helen divided her 52 years of active ministry between classroom teaching (20 years) and the practice of law (32 years). She taught elementary grades at St. Charles Borromeo in Brooklyn, and Saint Peter in Staten Island, and was director of education at Saint Agatha Home in Nanuet. Her high school assignments were at Bishop McDonnell in Brooklyn, Xavier College and Saint Augustine College in The Bahamas, and Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx.

In 1990, Sister Helen developed a private law practice. In 2001, she went into private practice full-time until her retirement in 2006. Her first nine years of retirement were at the Convent of Mary the Queen in Yonkers. In 2015, she joined the retired Sisters of Charity at Schervier Nursing Care Center in the Bronx and later moved to Cabrini of Westchester, where she died.

A funeral Mass was celebrated on Feb. 2 at St. Margaret of Cortona Church, the Bronx. Interment was at St. Joseph Cemetery, Yonkers, New York.

Sister Eleanor Nishio, RSM, a member of the Sisters of Mercy, Mid-Atlantic Community for 73 years, died on Wednesday, Jan. 12 at  McAuley Hall Health Center in Watchung, New Jersey, at age 93.

Sister Eleanor Nishio, RSM

Born in Passaic, New Jersey, she attended St. Gerard Majella Elementary School, Hollis, New York, and Mercy Juniorate High School, Brooklyn.

She entered the Sisters of Mercy Novitiate in Syosset in September 1947 and professed her final vows in September 1953. Sister Eleanor received a BS in Education from Fordham University and an MS in Education and Art History from SUNY New Paltz, New York.

Her ministry as a teacher began at St. Gregory, Crown Heights (1950-51) and continued at St. Thomas Aquinas, Flatlands (1951-57); Queen of Angels, Sunnyside (1957-61); St. Therese of Lisieux (1961-62); Sacred Heart, Adelphi St. (1962-64); Catherine McAuley H.S. (1964-68); Bishop McDonnell DHS (1968-73); Holy Trinity DHS, Hicksville, New York (1973-75); Our Lady of Mercy Academy, Syosset (1975-84); and St. Joseph’s College, Brooklyn (1985-89).

From 1990 to 2005 Sister Eleanor was an archivist at the Convent of Mercy in Brooklyn.

A funeral Mass was celebrated at Our Lady of Mercy Church, Hicksville, New York, and burial was in St. Charles Cemetery, Farmingdale.

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