Published January 17, 2008
Marist Father Richmond J. Egan, who, as a leader at Atlanta’s Marist School, reached out to students from modest backgrounds and grew its campus in northeast Atlanta, died Saturday, Jan. 12, at Saint Joseph’s Hospital. He was 67.
The cause was a result of an embolism he suffered Jan. 2, said a statement from the school.
A leader in Catholic education circles, Father Egan led the independent Catholic school as its president during the past seven years.
“He was funny, astute, ethical with razor-like precision, and concerned about those who needed assistance of any kind. He was a consummate planner, but he was also ready to act whenever and however it was required,” said Marist Father Joel Konzen, the school principal. “It will take some time to adjust to his absence, but I commend him to God, confident that he’s traded a swivel chair for a better seat by far.”
Father Egan during his tenure more than doubled the school’s endowment to $14.5 million and pushed the school to think long term with strategic planning and campus master planning. He helped the school buy 21 acres for future expansion.
Father Egan also helped launch Marist’s Reach for Excellence program. The rigorous three-year, academic boot camp helps sixth-graders improve critical thinking skills. It is geared toward middle school students from underserved neighborhoods.
James Tally, the Marist School board of trustees chairman, called Father Egan a “wonderfully loving, compassionate and caring priest” who always pushed the school to live up to its mission of academic excellence, the heritage of Catholic education, and the spirit of the Society of Mary.
“The Marist mission was first and foremost in his heart. His passion was to be certain that this mission was nourished and strong throughout the school, and at this he truly excelled,” said Tally.
About 1,000 students attend the school, located on Ashford-Dunwoody Road in suburban DeKalb County. It celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2001.
Father Egan was born in 1940 in Cambridge, Mass. He graduated from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and master of arts degree in liturgical studies. He earned additional graduate degrees, including journalism and public affairs from American University and a law degree from Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minn.
He took his first vows at the Marist novitiate in Rhinebeck, N.Y., in 1962 and was ordained a priest in Washington, D.C., five years later.
“I will, along with his brother Marists, miss him greatly,” said Marist Father Ted Keating, the provincial superior of the Marists’ Atlanta Province.
Father Egan’s 40 years as a Marist priest were focused on students in secondary and undergraduate education. He also taught at Catholic schools and colleges in New Jersey, Ohio and New York.
Before coming to Atlanta, Father Egan served as rector of the Marist seminary in Washington, D.C., and worked on Newsfront, a religiously-oriented television program as news director and executive producer.
Outside of the school, Father Egan was a member of Atlanta’s Downtown Rotary Club. He also enjoyed Irish culture, taking frequent trips to the Emerald Isle and celebrating Mass at a small country church. It was a special treat to receive one of his chocolate cakes or loaves of Irish soda bread.
He is survived by a sister, Martha, of Arlington, Mass., a brother, Frederick, of Springfield, Mass., and nieces and nephews.
Family and members of the Society of Mary will receive visitors on Thursday, Jan. 17, at Our Lady of the Assumption Church, 1350 Hearst Drive, NE, Atlanta, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. There will be a wake service in the church at 6 p.m., followed immediately by a reception on the campus of Marist School.
On Friday, Jan. 18, visitors will be received at Our Lady of the Assumption from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., followed by a Mass of Christian Burial in the church and burial in Westview Cemetery.
Suggested memorial contributions may be sent to Marist School, Reach for Excellence, or to the Society of Mary.