Monsignor Noel Fogarty, who led the growth — both in stone and flock — of St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church in Plantation, never had the “call.”
He will tell you, as he did to the Miami Herald when he was leaving his 20-year position as pastor of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Miami Shores for St. Gregory in 1991, it was more of a desire than a calling to enter the priesthood.
“A desire to accomplish something that I looked upon as very worthwhile,” he said. “And I still do.”
Fogerty died Wednesday at 87. He served 58 years in the priesthood and the Archdiocese of Miami in numerous roles, including priest, pastor and chancellor. Pope Paul VI gave him the title Monsignor in 1974, and raised him to Protonotary Apostolic in 1995.
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Keith Koenig, owner and president of City Furniture, praised Fogarty for turning St. Gregory into a thriving school and church.
In 1994, Fogarty led a $4 million campaign to expand the parish school.
“He was a visionary in terms of developing the facilities and the ministries,” said Koenig, who chaired that 1994 campaign. “He made sure things ran well. If there was something not right he was a gentle but firm spirit and held everyone to a high standard of accountability.”
In 2008, Fogarty led another campaign to renovate the church, a $6 million, two-year campaign. He retired in 2011.
Fogarty, born Dec. 30, 1928, in County Galway, Ireland, helped fellow seminarians come to America to serve in the church.
“He was a great example, especially for younger priests,” said Father Anthony Mulderry, pastor at St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Pompano Beach. “There was a time I was a younger priest — I’m 49 years ordained — and Noel represented the archbishop in Ireland. Noel took great care of us. He would come over and make sure we had what we needed. We were working hard to make it to the priesthood and represent the church well in the U.S.”
His passing means we lose a treasure trove of historical memory.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski on the passing of Monsignor Noel Fogarty
Fogarty came to Miami as a priest in 1957, and served the Diocese of Miami since its founding in 1958. (It became the Archdiocese of Miami in 1968.) He served at various parishes and schools, including Christopher Columbus High School, Epiphany Church and St. Brendan Church in Miami-Dade and St. Bartholomew in Miramar.
He witnessed many changes in Miami after the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
“We were set up at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Little River and they would come in with only the clothes on their backs,” Fogarty told the Miami Herald in 2007. “They were hungry. The government drifted for a long time, and that left it up to the church. We had to provide jobs and medical and dental help and social help. It was a tremendous achievement by Miami and the church to absorb almost a million people.”
The church grieves his loss.
“He was vicar general to Archbishop Coleman Carroll when the diocese grew the most and the fastest,” said Archbishop Thomas Wenski in a release. “Because of his involvement in the early days of this local church, his passing means we lose a treasure trove of historical memory.”
A viewing will be at 5 p.m. Monday, with a prayer service at 7 p.m. at St. Gregory Church, 200 N. University Dr., Plantation. Wenski will celebrate the funeral Mass at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Gregory.