Generally Speaking: Remembering Father Patrick Fursey O’Toole

Renowned former Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Parish Pastor Patrick Fursey O’Toole died on Wednesday, March 8, at age 80.  The beloved Roman Catholic priest was the pastor of St. Patrick’s Church from 1988 to 2004.

St. Patrick’s Parish was established in 1849 in the village of Fort Hamilton and as part of the Township of New Utrecht. The church didn’t become part of Brooklyn until 1894, and then part of the City of New York in 1898.

In 1999, Father O’Toole had the additional distinction of presiding over his church’s 150th anniversary.  He received an apostolic blessing from Pope Paul II, and congratulatory messages from Cardinal John O’Connor, the archbishop of New York and from Brooklyn Bishop Thomas Daily.

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In 1993, he served as the grand marshal of the Brooklyn Irish-American Parade, and in 2001 as the grand marshal of the annual Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade. In 2004, the Ragamuffin Parade Committee tapped him to lead thousands of costumed children up Third Avenue as its grand marshal.

On December 16, 2004, he shared the stage in the auditorium at Fort Hamilton High School for the Bay Ridge Sesquicentennial celebration birthday party marking the 150th anniversary of the year when Yellow Hook was renamed Bay Ridge. The good padre gave the invocation for the occasion.

Father Fursey O’Toole, who became a Knight of the Holy Sepulcher in 1977, immigrated from Ireland where he had been ordained as a priest and will return to the old sod where he will be interred in Galway.

A mass of transferral was held on Sunday at St. Patrick’s with 20 priests in attendance. Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Chappetto, vicar general for the diocese, representing Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, was the chief celebrant, with Auxiliary Bishop James Mazza and St. Patrick’s current Pastor Michael Hardiman among the co-celebrants.

On Monday, a funeral mass took place at St. Patrick’s with Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez presiding. This time, over 40 members of the diocesan clergy, many of whom served at St. Patrick’s, were in attendance. During his remarks, Bishop Sanchez — who became a close friend of O’Toole’s — referred to him as “feisty Fursey,” which resulted in good nature laughter.

Part of the service included America’s Tenor Danny Rodriquez singing “Ave Maria.”  Father Marty Kull, who served as parish priest under O’Toole, gave the homily. Ladies and fellow Knights of the Holy Sepulcher also participated in the service.

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