Published April 19, 2007
Father Andrew George McCormack, SM, died Sunday, April 15, at the age of 76 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Home in Atlanta. He was admitted to the home for those terminally ill with cancer more than a week ago, suffering with lung cancer and a resulting pneumonia. He had been living in retirement with fellow Marist religious near Marist School since 1999.
Funeral services for Father McCormack will be held on Saturday, April 21, at Our Lady of the Assumption Church, beginning with a wake with viewing at 10 a.m. and followed by the funeral Mass at 11 a.m. The church is located at 1350 Hearst Drive, N.E., Atlanta.
Father McCormack was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on May 14, 1930, the only son of Andrew John McCormack and Gertrude Faley McCormack. He attended St. Nicholas of Tolentine Elementary School in Jamaica, N.Y., from 1936 to 1944. He then entered Cathedral College, the high school seminary for the Diocese of Brooklyn, where he studied for two years. While there he met his lifelong friend and future Marist priest, Father Eugene Hughes. The two young men originally aspired to become diocesan priests, but they both developed a strong attraction to serve the church as priests in a religious order dedicated to Mary. Accordingly, in September 1947 they both entered St. Mary’s Manor, the minor seminary of the Marist Fathers and Brothers in South Langhorne, Pa., to finish high school and begin their college studies. Father McCormack went to the Marist novitiate Our Lady of the Elms in Staten Island, N.Y. After a year of novitiate, he professed first vows in the Society of Mary, Sept. 8, 1951.
After religious profession, Father McCormack moved to Marist College in Framingham, Mass., for two years of studies in philosophy and then went to Marist College in Washington for the required four years of theology.
On Feb. 2, 1957, 50 years ago, Father McCormack along with Father Hughes was ordained a priest in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington by Bishop Michael J. Keyes, SM, bishop-emeritus of Savannah.
The decades of his priestly ministry stand as a testament to his dedicated life of service to God’s people in secondary education and then in parish work.
His first assignment was to the recently opened St. Peter Chanel High School in Bedford, Ohio, where he stayed until 1961. He was then assigned as a teacher to Marist School in Atlanta for four years, followed by two more years at Chanel High School. He then went to St. Joseph’s Manor in Bettendorf, Iowa, as a professor at the college seminary of the Washington Province. Three years later, in 1970, he began a period of teaching at the Marist high school seminary in Penndel, Pa., where he himself had been a high school seminarian. He stayed there from 1970-1977 and was superior of the community and institution for the two years of 1975-1977. He returned as a teacher to Ohio for a year, and then to Marist School in Atlanta in 1978 where he was first a teacher and then superior of the community starting in 1982 and continuing for five years.
At the beginning of 1988, Father McCormack took on the second phase of his apostolic service to the church, this time in parish work. On Jan. 1, 1988, he became an associate at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Atlanta. He was able to take two months that fall for a personal renewal, then returned to Assumption and took on the extra duties of being Animator for Marist Laity. In 1991 he became pastor of the parish as well as superior of the community, posts he held until 1997. At that time he moved to a new assignment, as associate of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Wheeling, W. Va. At the same time he became vocation director of the Washington Province. A little over a year later, he returned to Atlanta to enter retirement.
The Society of Mary mourns the loss of this honorable priest servant, recalling how anyone who knew him was immediately touched by his warm affability and enthusiasm. A devotee of the theater, especially the Broadway musical, wherever Father McCormack was stationed, he always wound up as director of the spring musical, or the annual play, or some choral presentation. He was an avid musician and enjoyed playing the piano for long stretches. He was dedicated and always available in his ministry, deeply spiritual in his prayer life and liturgical celebrations, and genuinely friendly in all personal relations. For a period of time in the 1970s he was deeply involved in the charismatic renewal. What those who knew him will likely miss most about Father McCormack is his gift of humor, his infectious laugh, and his sheer and undisguised delight at being with others.
Father McCormack is survived by his three sisters, Gertrude Young, Catherine Elliot, Theresa Christovao, nieces and nephews, and grandnieces and grandnephews, as well as by his brother priests and Religious in the Society of Mary, the religious community that he called his family for almost six decades.