By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
When Jimmy Fitzpatrick was a boy, he liked to play priest by crafting a pretend chalice from the aluminum foil of a candy bar.
With his makeshift chalice, little Jimmy would proclaim, “Dominus vobiscum” (Latin for “The Lord be with you”) to which his sister would reply, “Et cum spiritu tuo” (Latin for “And with your spirit”).
Little Jimmy Fitzpatrick grew up to be Msgr. James J. Fitzpatrick, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Lower Makefield, Bucks County.
Msgr. Fitzpatrick died after a lengthy battle with lung cancer Monday, March 8, 2010, at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne.
He was 58 years old.
Among other assignments, Msgr. Fitzpatrick was also a former pastor of St. Philip Neri Parish in the Queen Village section of Philadelphia, a former archdiocesan director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and a former associate to the vicar in the Archdiocese’s Office of the Vicar for Administration.
The second of three children of James C. and Teresa S. (Scaringi) Fitzpatrick was born March 22, 1951, in Phoenixville, Chester County.
“Even though he went through different stages in his life, he always wanted to be a priest,” recalled his sister, Kathleen Daher, 63.
Family was a high priority to Msgr. Fitzgerald, his sister said. “He was a great brother. He always liked to tease – always in a good way, though.”
As a young boy, Jimmy also liked to hide then abruptly pop up as a prank to family members.
In later years, he was an avid golfer and fan of Penn State football and the Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies.
Msgr. Fitzpatrick’s signatures were his smile and cheerful disposition, his sister said. “I just miss him so much. He was so sweet and kind.”
He graduated from St. Mary of the Assumption Parochial School in Phoenixville in 1965 and from St. Pius X High School in Pottstown in 1969.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University in University Park in 1973 and a master of spaninity degree in 1984 from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.
He was ordained a priest in 1984 and named a monsignor by Pope John Paul II in 1998.
Assignments also included parochial vicar at St. Cecilia and St. Agatha-St. James parishes in Philadelphia and Queen of the Universe Parish in Levittown.
Msgr. Fitzpatrick also served as a hospital chaplain, assisted in the formation of seminarians at St. Charles Seminary and served as an auditor in the archdiocesan Office of the Metropolitan Tribunal.
He served as an associate to the vicar in the Archdiocesan Office of the Vicar for Administration from 1994 to 1996 and as director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith from 1996 to 1998.
He was named pastor of St. Philip Neri Parish in Philadelphia in 1998, where he served until 2003, when he was named pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Lower Makefield, where he served until his death.
Cardinal Justin Rigali celebrated Msgr. Fitzpatrick’s funeral Mass March 12 at St. John the Evangelist Church in Lower Makefield.
Father Paul C. Convery, C.O., a classmate from St. Charles Seminary, delivered the homily.
Father Convery remembered Msgr. Fitzpatrick as a happy priest with a hearty laugh, one who befriended a great variety of people.
At the same time, Msgr. Fitzpatrick was a realist who wasn’t afraid to speak up on behalf of the things of God and of Jesus for His people, the teachings of the Church, the importance of the sacraments, the sanctity of life and children in the womb.
“He loved the priesthood, the faith, the Church because He loved the Great High Priest, Jesus,” Father Convery said.
Shortly after Msgr. Fitzpatrick learned of the severity of his illness, he told Father Convery: “I’m not afraid of dying.” Then, motioning toward a crucifix on the wall, continued, “Because of what He did on the cross for us, we can’t really die.”
Msgr. Fitzpatrick was preceded in death by an adult nephew, Barry Jones.
In addition to his parents and sister, he is survived by a younger brother, Robert; two nephews and two nieces.
Interment was at Resurrection Cemetery, Bensalem.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.