Published May 3, 2018
ATLANTA—Father Daniel J. McCormick, 90, the first priest ordained for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, died Thursday, April 19. The son of Daniel and Mary Ursula McCormick, he was born Dec. 2, 1927, in Lynbrook, New York.
Following high school in Malverne, New York, he served in the U.S. Navy from 1946 to 1948 on a destroyer and in the submarine service. He attended St. Joseph’s College in Philadelphia from 1948 to 1950 before transferring to St. Philip Neri in Boston, a school that specialized in accelerated Latin. In preparation for ministry in the Savannah-Atlanta Diocese, he attended St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland, finishing his studies in philosophy in May 1957.
In July 1956, the Diocese of Atlanta was established, and Father McCormick was the first priest ordained by Bishop Francis E. Hyland for the new diocese on June 1, 1957. Upon arrival in Atlanta, he was temporarily assigned to St. Thomas More Church, Decatur, and assisted at St. John Chrysostom Melkite Church, Atlanta. His first permanent assignment was at St. Anthony of Padua Church, Atlanta. He taught religion at St. Joseph High School in downtown Atlanta and worked with the children at the St. Joseph orphanage in Washington. He also studied sociology at Fordham University, New York, in the early 1960s and briefly served as assistant director of Catholic Charities in Atlanta in 1963.
Father McCormick served as pastor and parochial vicar at many parishes, including St. Patrick Church, Norcross; St. Bernadette Church, Cedartown; St. Lawrence Church, Lawrenceville; St. Mary Church, Rome; St. John Neumann Church, Lilburn; and Holy Trinity Church, Peachtree City. He also spent over two years with the monks at Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers before returning to active service as an Atlanta diocesan priest.
He served in multiple other parish assignments and as chaplain to the Roswell police and to the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association. He served as a parochial vicar at All Saints Church in Dunwoody for over two decades and also served as a chaplain at the Atlanta Veterans Hospital. Father McCormick retired in 2013 and resided at All Saints Church until his death.
He was involved for many years in marriage preparation, including setting up a program for pre-marriage preparation, and in the Catholic Family Movement. Beginning in 1994 he served in the Province of Atlanta Court of Appeals where he was defender of the bond. He served as Vicar for Clergy of the Atlanta Archdiocese.
In 2007, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, having attended the 50th anniversary celebration for Father McCormick, talked about the pioneer priest in his Georgia Bulletin column. He said, “This first priest of the Archdiocese has endeared himself to countless thousands of people in this local Church over the years. … Father McCormick has endeavored to live out the promises that he made on June 1 in 1957 to be a priest in service to the people of God in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.”
Father McCormick, in reflections he wrote in 2007 for his jubilee, said, “My life, if it has any distinction, does so because of the many and varied people it has been my privilege to know. Life has been something like a magnificent bouquet of many flowers, all of which were gifts at some important time for me. … I am a grateful priest, transformed into something of Christ. Transformed, ‘in persona Christi,’ that I might give you the love He has given me through you.”
The funeral Mass was celebrated April 27 at All Saints Church.
Donations in Father McCormick’s memory may be made to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, 2625 Highway 212 SW, Conyers, GA 30094-4044, or online at www.trappist.net/support/donate.