Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Passionist Father Joseph Fahy Dies

Published January 25, 2007

Father Joseph Fahy, CP, Ph.D., parochial vicar at St. Paul of the Cross Church and long-time priest in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, died Monday, Jan. 22, after a brief illness. He was 78.

A vigil and rosary in memory of Father Fahy was planned for Thursday, Jan. 25, from 7 to 9:30 p.m., at St. Paul of the Cross Church. Father Jed Sumampong, CP, pastor, was to preside.

On Friday, Jan. 26, Archbishop-emeritus John F. Donoghue will celebrate the funeral Mass for Father Fahy at 2 p.m. at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta. The homilist will be Father John J. O’Brien, CP.

Father Fahy, who was ordained on April 28, 1956, and celebrated his golden jubilee just last year, has ministered in the archdiocese for most of the last two decades, principally as a member of the Hispanic Ministry Office.

A native of Washington, D.C., he came to the archdiocese in 1983 at the invitation of then-Father Bill Hoffman to help celebrate Masses in Spanish, as the growing need could not be met by local priests alone.

Father Fahy brought the Mass in Spanish to Catholics in 17 parishes or missions across North Georgia, on a traveling circuit with Father Hoffman.

An occasional contributor to The Georgia Bulletin, Father Fahy was an active and accomplished author, who used his writing skill and his articulate voice to advocate for those in need, particularly those in prison. He also taught in the archdiocesan formation program for permanent deacons.

Ordained in Union City, N.J., on April 28, 1956, he spent the 1960s ministering in the Union City parish of St. Michael’s, an area he said was home to the second largest Cuban community in the United States after Florida. He had studied Spanish as an undergraduate at Georgetown University and continued while in theology school and then in Puerto Rico, where he was sent by the Passionists.

Attending night school at New York University, he earned a master’s degree in Latin American history with a specialty in Cuban history “because I was working with (Cubans) and wanted a more specialized knowledge of the people.”

He later earned a master’s degree in theology from Princeton Theological Seminary and a doctorate in theology from Harvard University.

“I think awareness, too, of trying to serve these people who don’t know the language, the culture, (who are) trying to get jobs, raise their children, make a life for themselves, trying to help such worthy people,” has been inspiring, he said in an interview with The Georgia Bulletin in June 2006. “If they are making such sacrifices, the little sacrifices we are called upon to make in comparison don’t seem too serious.”

Father Fahy said his own vocation among Hispanic immigrants, offering the Mass in their native language and trying to preserve their “treasure” of the faith, came “in part from certain traditions in the (Fahy) family” and then from “God’s grace.”

“I have always been so grateful to the Lord to be able to preach the Gospel in another language,” he said.

St. Paul of the Cross Church is located at 551 Harwell Road, NW, Atlanta. The Cathedral of Christ the King is located at 2699 Peachtree Road, NE, Atlanta.