Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


LaSalette Father James D. Caffery Dies

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published June 23, 2011

LaSalette Father James D. Caffery died on Friday, June 17, after a brief illness. He was 78 years old.

The priest, who was in his 51st year of ordination, died at St. Francis Hospital, Hartford, Conn., where he was hospitalized for pneumonia on June 15.

Known to people as “Fr. Caff,” he was the former pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Smyrna. He also served in ministry at St. Matthew Church, which was then located in Fairburn, and now is in Tyrone, and at Our Lady of LaSalette Parish in Canton. He served in Georgia for 16 years, leaving in 2006 for Florida. In 2009, he moved to Hartford House in Connecticut.

Memories written in his online guest book described him as approachable, never too busy to say hello, a mentor. One couple said Father Caffery witnessed their marriage in 1997 at St. Thomas the Apostle and he baptized their son, whom they named James in his honor.

“Thank you Fr. Caff, for your love and support of so many souls. We miss you! We wish we could be at your funeral, but we pray for your soul and hope to meet again someday,” wrote Ann Green of Indiana.

Deacon Bill Hampton served with him at St. Matthew Church and they quickly became close friends.

“If you looked up the definition of priest in the dictionary, his picture would be there,” he said.

Deacon Hampton said he joked with Father Caffery that he gave the same homily, time after time, with the same message: “Love one another as I love you.”

Away from the parish, Father Caffery relaxed by going out to dinner with friends, walking around the community and watching baseball.

“Trust me, he was a Red Sox fan,” said Deacon Hampton.

A native of Middletown, Conn., he made perpetual vows as a Missionary of Our Lady of LaSalette in 1957 and was ordained a priest of the order in May 1960. Among other assignments, Father Caffery taught at LaSalette seminaries in Connecticut and served at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church in Sulphur, La.

He was buried at Mt. St. Benedict Cemetery, in Bloomfield, Conn., following a funeral Mass celebrated on Monday, June 20, at the LaSalette community in Hartford. In Atlanta, a memorial Mass was to be celebrated at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Smyrna, on Thursday, June 23.

A memorial Mass will be celebrated at St. Matthew Church in Tyrone on Saturday, July 9, at 5 p.m.

Contributions may be made in Father Caffery’s memory to the Missionaries of LaSalette Retirement Fund, 915 Maple Ave., Hartford, CT 06114-2330.