Obituaries

3301 Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19149

215-624-5150 | 215-624-3302

 

Rev. Msgr. Charles E. McGroarty passed away on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at Holy Redeemer Hospital, at the age of 86.

The Rev. Msgr. Charles E. McGroarty was the fourth child born to Edward and Margaret McGroarty on February 26, 1934.  He grew up, along with his siblings, Jane, Edward and William in Collingdale, PA.  He attended St. Joseph Grade School in Collingdale, PA, St. James High School in Chester, PA and Saint Joseph's College (University) where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree.  In 1953, the year his mother died, he felt a call to religious life, influenced by his pastor at St. Joseph Parish and the priests he'd known at St. James High School.  His father convinced him to wait until after his college graduation to enter Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary.  While at Saint Charles Seminary, he also obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree.  In 1959, he was sent to Rome by Cardinal O'Hara to study at the Gregorian University with residence at the North American College.  He was ordained a priest in Rome on December 19, 1962 by Archbishop Martin O'Connor, rector of the North American College.  He finished his studies for his S.T.L. (license in Sacred Theology) in the spring of 1963 and returned to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
 
 
Upon returning to Philadelphia, Father McGroarty began his priesthood assigned to St. Raphael Parish for the summer of 1963.  In September, he began teaching at Roman Catholic High School from 1963 to 1965.  He continued his studies at the Catholic University in Washington, DC obtaining a Masters in Sociology and Marriage Counseling in 1967.  He continued in the teaching ministry as an instructor of Moral Theology at St. Charles Seminary from 1967 to 1970.  Later he became an Associate Professor of Sociology in the College Division from 1967 to 1975, as well as, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology at the Seminary from 1976 to 1986.

 
Father McGroarty devoted many years of his priesthood to Family Life.  He was appointed Assistant Director of the Catholic Family Life Bureau in 1966 and then was named Director of the Bureau in 1972.  During his time at the Family Life Bureau Father McGroarty was instrumental in implementing numerous programs for engaged couples, married couples, natural family planning, separated & divorced, widows & widowers, parent & teenage communication, Anniversary Masses for couples married 25 years and 50 or more years, workshops for priests, and so on and so on. In recognition for Father McGroarty's many contributions to Marriage & Family and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, he was named a Monsignor in 1976.  A title well deserved!  Msgr. McGroarty's mind, energy and work ethic never ceased to amaze his staff. He was never afraid to try something new.  Msgr. McGroarty enjoyed working with his fellow priests and laity in order to advance the mission of the FAMILY throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  His work and accomplishments at the Family Life Bureau helped couples and families throughout the Archdiocese.  During his time at the Family Life Bureau, Monsignor resided at Saint Michael Parish, 2nd & Jefferson St. and Saint Bartholomew Parish, Philadelphia where he enjoyed celebrating Mass and helping in various ways.
 
In 1980, Msgr. was given a Governor's Appointment to serve as a delegate from Pennsylvania to the White House Conference on Families.  During this time, Monsignor also served as a Clinical Member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapist (AAMFT), as well as, a Clinical Member of the National Alliance of Family Life (NAFL).  Monsignor strongly advocated for the Respect Life Program as the Program's Archdiocesan Coordinator from 1969-1988.  He also functioned as the Chairman of the Pennsylvania Statewide Coordinating Committee for Pro-Life Activities from 1975-1981.
 
In November, 1983, Monsignor McGroarty was asked by the late Bishop James McHugh, of the Diocese of Camden, to make a presentation at the International Federation For Family Life Promotion in Hong Kong, China.  Monsignor accepted and it was there that Monsignor met and spoke with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, now Saint Teresa of Calcutta.
 
Monsignor also worked as the Director of the Archdiocesan Public Affairs Office from 1977-1980, and as a member of the Department of Justice & Rights for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference from 1981-1988.  He served on the Archdiocesan Council of Priests from 1988-1996.  Monsignor sat on the Board of Advisors for Father Judge High School from 1997 to 2001 and again from 2008 until his retirement in 2014, in addition to his being on the Board of Advisors for Saint Hubert High School from 2003-2009.
 
In 1987, Monsignor McGroarty was appointed Pastor of Saint Matthew Parish.  His years in education and family life prepared him for all of the challenges presented in running a large parish and school.  He worked hand-in-hand with parish groups to build a strong Catholic Community, where people of all ages felt welcome.  He positioned St. Matthew Parish to be a resilient anchor in the Mayfair Community.  He championed the cause of Catholic Education and took pride in the accomplishments of the faculty and students of Saint Matthew School.  Monsignor worked tirelessly in Saint Matthew Parish caring for the spiritual and corporal needs of the parishioners, as well as, the priests living in the rectory.  Monsignor never lost sight of a responsibility to care for the older priests in the rectory.  If they wished to stay at the rectory, Monsignor made sure that their needs would be met and that they would be taken care of at the rectory.  Those priest were more than appreciative.  He served as a dedicated and faith-filled leader of Saint Matthew Parish for twenty-seven years. 
 
Monsignor's good works have been recognized by many organizations.  He was presented with the Presidential Award from Holy Family University in 2007.  That year, he also received Archdiocesan Recognition for support of Catholic Education.  In 2008, The National Catholic Education Association bestowed on him the Distinguished Pastor Award (Region lll) for support of Catholic Education.  Saint James Catholic High School's Alumni honored Monsignor on the Wall of Honor in 2011.  In addition, he was given the Annual Mayfair Business and Civic Associates Award in 2012.  In 2016, Monsignor was a "Hall of Fame Honoree" at the inaugural award ceremony host by the Foundation For Catholic Education Phila-North.
 
In June, 2014, at the age of 80, Monsignor retired as pastor of Saint Matthew Parish.  After retirement, Monsignor continued to remain active in his ministry to the priesthood and the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia by returning to where it all began 86 years ago at Saint Joseph Parish, Collingdale, PA.  Monsignor remained active, celebrating Mass and hearing confessions at Saint Joseph Parish until the time of his death on March 17, 2020.
 
Monsignor always said that he enjoyed his priesthood and the various ministries and people he worked with and met over the years, although challenging at time, he remained a good and faithful servant.
 
Monsignor wrote the following as he reflected on his priesthood, "The priesthood for me was challenging and a learning experience.  This was because of those who I shared high school years, seminary years, Family Life years, pro-life ministry and parish years.  You gave me much. You gave me happiness, many challenges, many opportunities to learn and grow.  And so I say a very sincere thank you - don't forget me and pray for me."
 
Rest in peace, Monsignor, you will never be forgotten as we pray for you and to you.
 
Monsignor will be sadly missed by his many nieces, nephews, family, friends and brother priests throughout the Archdiocese.
 
Memorial Mass and Life Celebration for Monsignor will be scheduled at a later date. Information will be posted on www.stmattsparish.com and John F. Fluehr & Sons Inc. (jffluehrandsons.com) website.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory to The Friends of St. Matt's 3000 Cottman Ave. Philadelphia PA 19149 would be appreciated.



John F. Fluehr & Sons, Inc.

Funeral Home Serving Families Since 1898

3301 Cottman Avenue
Philadelphia PA 19149

215-624-5150
215-624-3302

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