Obituaries, Week of Feb. 4, 2023

Father Coleman J. Costello, a retired priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, was born Sept. 28, 1941, was ordained to the priesthood on May 27, 1967, and died Sat. Jan. 21, at age 81.

Born in Brooklyn, Coleman Costello was raised in St. Adalbert’s parish in Queens, attended high school at LaSalle Military Academy on Long Island, and studied at St. Vincent’s Seminary in Latrobe, Va. and St. John’s University in Queens. 

During the course of his priestly career, Father Costello served the Diocese of Brooklyn as Parochial Vicar for St. Saviour (Brooklyn), St. Francis de Sales (Belle Harbor), St. Anthony of Padua (Brooklyn), St. Vincent de Paul (Brooklyn) and St. Andrew Avellino (Brooklyn). He also served as part-time chaplain of Holy Cross High School (Flushing). 

In the early 1970s, Father Costello transitioned from a role as a parish priest to a ministry working with young people struggling with drug and alcohol problems. 

That included establishing a not-for-profit referral agency called The Outreach Project. 

“Father Costello was very sensitive to the needs of people who were on the fringes of society,” said Msgr. John Bracken, who became good friends with Father Costello when both served as priests at St. Francis de Sales in the late 1960s. 

“He was a missionary, touching the lives of the people who needed to know the most that God loved them,” he added 

Msgr. Bracken added that Father Costello was a “warm, welcoming priest with a truly outgoing personality who always put smiles on the faces of those he came in contact with.” 

He spent his later years at the Bishop Mugavero Residence for Retired Priests in Douglaston, Queens. 

A funeral Mass for Father Costello was celebrated by Bishop Robert Brennan at Immaculate Conception Center, Douglaston, New York, on Jan. 25, followed by interment at St. John Cemetery, Middle Village, New York. 

Sister Mary James Fox died on Dec. 28, at age 90, the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk announced. Born in Brooklyn in 1932, Mary Joan Fox was baptized in Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Brooklyn. When she was 17 years old, she entered the congregation of the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk in Blue Point, New York.

Soon after professing her perpetual vows six years later, and taking the name Sister Mary James, she embarked on a 26-year ministry in education. She taught at Our Lady of Grace (Howard Beach), Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Ozone Park), St. William the Abbot (Seaford, New York), and Our Lady Star of the Sea (Stamford, Connecticut), where she also served as principal. Her last teaching position was at Holy Family High School (Huntington, New York), where she was an instrumental member of the math department from 1968 to 1979. 

After that, she turned her ministry to bookkeeping, a role she filled for 24 years at Our Lady of Mercy (Hicksville, New York) and another seven years at Our Lady of Hope (Middle Village). Following her retirement, Sister Mary James continued to serve in her community’s business office. 

Sister Mary James earned a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University and a master’s degree from St. John’s University and Randolph-Macon College. 

She is survived by her sister, Helen Fox Brown, and seven nieces and nephews, 14 grandnieces and grandnephews, and six great-grandnieces and great-grandnephews. 

At the time of her death, Sister Mary James had been an Ursuline Sister for 72 years. 

Her life was celebrated with a funeral Mass on Jan. 4 at Our Lady of the Snow Mother Church in Blue Point.