2006-02-10 / Community

Monsignor Geraghty Continues On To New Parish

By Roseanne Honan

Pictured: Monsignor Geraghty (left) with Tom Murphy at a December 2005 Civic Association Holiday Party.
Pictured: Monsignor Geraghty (left) with Tom Murphy at a December 2005 Civic Association Holiday Party.

In a few short weeks, Monsignor Martin T. Geraghty will continue his mission of faith as head of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Bayside, after the untimely passing of their pastor, Monsignor Lavin.

Religious leaders become a part of important sacred milestones in many people’s lives, providing comfort, healing, and spiritual guidance. For the Roman Catholic religion, priests are witnesses in the celebrations of happy times, such as weddings and baptisms; and in periods of mourning, most notably in our community, the terrible losses of September 11 and Flight 587.

For the past 18 years, Monsignor Geraghty has fulfilled his responsibility as a caring and dedicated pastor of St. Francis de Sales Church. In the process, he also became a pillar of community togetherness and understanding on the Rockaway peninsula, becoming active in pan-religious organizations such as the Rockaway Catholic-Jewish Council. “It’s God’s grace to help each other. You love to do it,” said Monsignor Geraghty when talking about his commitment to the priesthood and the community. “It’s hard to leave. I’ve been here for 18 years. I love it here, and I love the people. It’s my life.”

Monsignor Geraghty’s reassignment has left parishioners stunned and saddened. On an even more poignant note, he is leaving on the Centennial Anniversary of St. Francis de Sales Church. Many parishioners have started a petition imploring Bishop DiMarzio, the head of the Brooklyn Diocese, to keep Monsignor Geraghty at St. Francis de Sales. The petition requests that residents write their own personal stories of how Monsignor Geraghty provided strength and support, most especially during the tragic times our tight-knit community faced.

During the aftermath of September 11, Monsignor Geraghty imparted compassion and tenderness to families who lost loved ones during the attack, and celebrated many funeral masses and memorials for the hard-hit peninsula. When Rockaway was thrown into chaos once again two months later when Flight 587 crashed in Belle Harbor, Monsignor offered support and counseling during the community’s emotional strains. His reassuring words helped people overcome the devastating effects of that year.

While it is difficult for Monsignor Geraghty to be reassigned, he is reassured that the parishioners will welcome the new monsignor with open arms. “We have a great community and great relationships, and people will continue that tradition,” said Monsignor Geraghty.

Monsignor went on to explain that priests are given six-year terms at a particular parish, with one six-year renewal. In recent years, many were given the opportunity to stay longer at their parishes. Monsignor Geraghty was at the end of his third term when Bishop DiMarzio asked him to relocate to St. Robert Bellarmine’s due to the special circumstances.

With the upcoming centennial celebration events at St. Francis de Sales fast approaching, Monsignor Geraghty hopes to come back and be able to see the fruition of months of planning.

When discussing the petition that is being passed around St. Francis, Monsignor is touched, but wants the transition to be a peaceful event. “I appreciate that they want me to stay, and they want to express their love [through petitioning]. And they know I love them.”

Although we are losing a vital asset to the community, St. Francis de Sales Parish and the Rockaways were fortunate enough to have Monsignor Geraghty for 18 years. Monsignor’s message of love and understanding will continue, and he is forever intertwined with the lives he touched. The community will always be grateful for his wisdom, kind words, and devotion to our beachfront town. Now, Monsignor will be able to share his experiences and spiritual commitment with the parishioners of St. Robert Bellarmine. And Rockaway is never too far away from Monsignor Geraghty’s thoughts. He quipped with a smile, “I’ll still have sand in my shoes.”

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