Obituaries, Week of Feb. 6, 2021

Father Kevin J. O’Reilly, S.T.D.

Community Mourns Young, ‘Witty and Brilliant Teacher Of Church Doctrine’

Father Kevin J. O’Reilly, S.T.D., Academic Dean and Professor of Dogmatic Theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary, died on Feb. 1. He was 51.

Born on Nov. 23, 1969, he was ordained on May 11, 1996. He graduated from Columbia University and held a doctorate in Dogmatic Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome.

“The seminary community is shocked and stricken with sadness over the sudden death of Father O’Reilly,” said Bishop James Massa, rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary. “For more than sixteen years, he has been an outstanding teacher of the most difficult subjects of theology. With hilarious puns and great stories from parish life, he made topics like the doctrine of the Trinity and the divinity and humanity of Jesus come alive in his classroom.” 

“Many of our recently ordained priests and permanent deacons, not to mention many lay MA students, know Father Kevin as a witty and brilliant teacher of Church doctrine. He held the bar high for his students, and highest for himself. I would say that he was one of the towering intellects of his generation of priests in the New York area. My brother-priests and I have lost a colleague and a friend who practiced what he believed. We will miss him terribly.”

Bishop Massa said Father O’Reilly played a critical role in the merger of the priestly and diaconate formation programs of St. Joseph’s, Dunwoodie and Immaculate Conception, Huntington. He added that his expert guidance helped the New York State Department of Education and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) recognize the degree programs, currently available in the downstate dioceses.

Father O’Reilly is survived by his brother, Father Daniel O’Reilly, and their parents Loretta and Kevin O’Reilly. 

Final Farewell to Brooklyn Priest Remembered as ‘Kind, Compassionate’

Father James Fraser

Father James Fraser, a retired priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, died on Jan. 27,  at Bishop Mugavero Residence, Douglaston. He was 82.

Born in Brooklyn on Jan. 24, 1939, and baptized at Holy Name Church, Park Slope, he attended Cathedral College and Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington.

He was ordained to the Priesthood on May 29, 1965, by Bishop Bryan McEntegart at St. James Pro-Cathedral, Downtown Brooklyn.

Father Fraser’s first assignment was as an assistant at Fourteen Holy Martyrs, Bushwick, 1965.

He served as parochial vicar of the parishes of Our Lady of Victory, Bedford-Stuyvesant, 1966; Holy Family, Flushing, 1966-80; St. Columba, Marine Park, 1980-85; and Holy Trinity, Whitestone, 1985-2010.

In 2010, Father Fraser became a senior priest and lived at Holy Family, Flushing, until 2012 when he moved to the Bishop Mugavero Residence in Douglaston.

He was one of the founding members of the Bishop’s Committee on Alcoholism, and served on the panel from 1972 to 1980.

“Father Jim Fraser was kind, compassionate and a gentle soul,” said Deacon Matt Oellinger, director of the diocesan Office of Senior Priests.

“He cared about everyone he met and was a champion for people suffering with addictions. He was always grateful for anything you did for him…. He was a fine, faithful priest and I am so blessed to have had him in my life,” Deacon Oellinger said.

All arrangements and burial are private. A Memorial Mass has not yet been scheduled.

Lawyer, Vet, Papal Knight and Bishops’ Counselor, Recalled as ‘Good Steward’

By Ed Wilkinson, Editor Emeritus

Mr. Joseph H. Farrell and wife, holding The Tablet’s St. Francis de Sales Award, at The Tablet Centennial Dinner in 2009.

Mr. Joseph H. Farrell, a lawyer who was active in numerous diocesan and legal organizations, died on Dec. 5, at Brookdale Hospital after a struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was 90.

Born in Belle Harbor, Farrell was a lifelong resident of St. Francis de Sales parish, where he attended elementary school. He then went to Brooklyn Prep and graduated from Fordham University and New York Law School. He was admitted to the Bar in 1962.  He was a lifelong member of the firm of Conway, Farrell, Curtin & Kelly.

Farrell was past president of the Brooklyn Bar Association and the Lawyers Club of Brooklyn and past chairman of the NYSBA Section of Insurance, Negligence and Compensation Law and past chairman of the NYC Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

He also served as president of the Catholic Lawyers Guild, Kings County.

Among the many boards he served were Mercy First and the Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh. He also was a member of the Downtown Athletic Club’s Heisman Trophy Committee.

A Papal Knight of St. Gregory and a member of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, he was named the CYO Man of the Year in 1972 and was a recipient of the Pope John Paul II Distinguished Stewardship Award. He also was active with The Cathedral Club of Brooklyn and the Long Island Emerald Association.

Farrell also received The Tablet’s St. Francis de Sales Award at The Tablet Centennial Dinner in 2009.

A Korean War veteran, he was awarded the Bronze Star and Silver Star for Valor.

A Funeral Mass was celebrated on Dec. 11 at St. Francis DeSales, Belle Harbor.  Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio presided. Msgr. John Bracken was the main celebrant and homilist. Msgr. Robert Harris was among the concelebrants as well as Fathers William Sweeney, the pastor, and James Cunningham, associate priest.

Msgr. Bracken recalled that Farrell was a counselor to Brooklyn bishops as far back as Archbishop Bryan J. McEntegart. He also advised Auxiliary Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan and Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens and was counsel to St. Vincent’s Home, Brooklyn.

“He always offered prudent and wise advice,” said Msgr. Bracken. “He was serious and thoughtful and always a gentleman but he always had a smile on his face and had a great sense of humor.  He was a great raconteur. He could tell a story.  It was a pleasure to be in his company.

“He was a good steward. He was generous with the gifts that he had been given. He gave himself as a great husband and father, a good family man. He was always readily available at the church and in the community.”

Farrell is survived by his wife of 65 years, Joan (Sharkey); their children Joseph S. and Patricia Anne Harty; his brother Peter; and grandchildren Ryan, Patrick, and Kelly Anne Harty.

Burial was at Holy Cross Cemetery, Flatbush.

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2 thoughts on “Obituaries, Week of Feb. 6, 2021

  1. It was with shock and sadness that we learned yesterday of the death of Father O’Reilly. He was a visiting priest at our parish church St. Barnabas, in the Woodlawn neighborhood of the Bronx. We were always happy when Father O’Reilly appeared at the altar, because we knew we were in for a sermon which delved deeply into serious religious issues, though you could count on it being laced with humor. A humble and self-deprecating man, he will be truly missed.

    Requiescat in Pace

  2. Our family will miss Fr. O’Reilly so much. My teens were so upset because they really enjoyed how Fr. O’Reilly linked his great stories to important faith lessons in his homily. My 11 year-old was able to tell us about his favorite homily from one of Fr. O’Reilly’s masses. He left such an impact on all of us and made us more faithful. Thank you God for the gift of his priesthood. May he be gazing upon the face of Our Lord whom he loved and served so faithfully. Amen.