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LENIHAN Msgr. John Lenihan, former Vicar General for the Diocese of St. Augustine, passed away on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 after suffering a short illness. He was 83. Msgr. John Joseph Lenihan, son of the late Malachy Lenihan and Julianne McCarthy, was born on July 14, 1929 in Castlemaine, County Kerry along Ireland s southwest coast. Each summer he returned to the family farm in Castlemaine where his family still lives. He studied for the priesthood at St. Kieran s College in Ireland and was ordained at St. Mary s Cathedral in Kilkenny on June 7, 1953. He served in two Irish parishes before moving to Florida in March 1956 at the invitation of Archbishop Joseph P. Hurley. Msgr. Lenihan, a priest of the Diocese of St. Augustine for 57 years, held several diocesan positions under four bishops and served in two parishes in South Florida (Immaculate Conception, Hialeah and St. Anthony, Fort Lauderdale) before moving to Northeast Florida. In 1958, Msgr. Lenihan was appointed pastor of a new parish, St. Patrick s in North Jacksonville. He served there for 10 years before he was appointed pastor at Christ the King where he served from 1968 to 1977. In June 1977, Msgr. Lenihan became pastor at San Jos where he served for 22 years before retiring. Msgr. Lenihan, while tending to his parish responsibilities, served as Director of Catholic Charities from 1958 to 1974. It was during his tenure with Catholic Charities that he obtained a master s in social work from The Catholic University in Washington. He also founded the Morning Star schools throughout Florida. Bishop John J. Snyder appointed Msgr. Lenihan Vicar General of the diocese in 1980 a post he held for 10 years. He was a unique and gifted priest and a very special friend to me from the moment I arrived to the diocese, said Bishop Snyder. It was his work at Catholic Charities however that led him to developing strong relationships with other faith leaders. He was a Civil Rights activist in the 1960s and committed to working for peace and justice. In 1973, Msgr. Lenihan received the Brotherhood of Man Award presented to him by the National Conference of Christians and Jews for his courageous leadership farsightedness and industry in participating in the economic and educational expansion of Florida He represented the diocese on the Interfaith Council that was formed under his leadership in 1979 and served as the diocesan ecumenical officer from 1980 until his retirement in 1999. Msgr. Lenihan, in a 1999 Florida Times-Union article on his retirement, said his two proudest achievements are the vibrant religious life of his parish and his work building bridges of understanding among Jacksonville s different faiths. Msgr. Lenihan is survived by his two sisters, Sheila Linnane and her husband Joe, and Eileen Cullinan and her husband Noel, several nieces, nephews and grand nieces and nephews. All are from Ireland. Visitation will be Monday, Feb. 11 from 5 to 7 p.m. with a vigil service at 7 p.m. at San Jos Catholic Church, 3619 Toledo Road, Jacksonville. The funeral Mass will be celebrated Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 9 a.m. at San Jos Catholic Church. In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Augustine, 134 East Church St. Jacksonville, Fl. 32202 or San Jose Catholic School, 3619 Toledo Rd. Jacksonville, Fl. 32217. Please Sign the Guestbook @ Jacksonville.com
Published in the Florida Times-Union on Feb. 10, 2013
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