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St. Coleman shepherd remembered

Parish’s 60th anniversary celebration turns into tribute to longtime pastor, Father Thomas Foudy

POMPANO BEACH | Father Michael Garcia stood at the altar May 19 as Mass and a joyful parish anniversary celebration were about to begin, but he was not smiling as he delivered his message.

“I have some bad news,” said Father Garcia, parochial administrator of St. Coleman Parish. He paused, bowed his head and took a deep breath before continuing.

From left: St. Coleman's Father Gerald Morris, parochial vicar, Father Michael Garcia, administrator, and Father Eugene Marcone, who helps out, gather to talk during the parish's anniversary celebration May 19, which also included recognitions and celebrations of Father Thomas Foudy's life. Father Foudy, a former pastor, died the morning of the anniversary celebration.

Photographer: LINDA REEVES | FC

From left: St. Coleman's Father Gerald Morris, parochial vicar, Father Michael Garcia, administrator, and Father Eugene Marcone, who helps out, gather to talk during the parish's anniversary celebration May 19, which also included recognitions and celebrations of Father Thomas Foudy's life. Father Foudy, a former pastor, died the morning of the anniversary celebration.

“Father Foudy passed away at 3 a.m. this morning. I recently spoke to him. He apologized. He couldn’t make it to the anniversary celebration because of chemo treatments. I don’t know if this is divine providence or what, that he passed on the same day of the anniversary.”

No doubt about it. Father Foudy, former St. Coleman pastor, was front and center during the parish celebration that marked six decades of ministry and growth of the parish and school, in which the beloved Irish priest played a big part.

“He was the definition of a wonderful pastor,” Father Garcia said.

The afternoon included fellowship, food and entertainment and featured bits and pieces about the parish history since its establishment May 7, 1959.

But the highlight of the gathering was Father Foudy stories shared by those who respected and loved him, along with Irish music, photos and memorabilia of Father Foudy, including some items found unexpectedly days before the celebration and his death. The testimonies spoken from the heart pointed to the great impact the shepherd made on his sheep.

“The first time I came to the parish was in 1979,” said Joe Testa. “My first visit that day was special. I loved the people. I loved the priest. I was married at St. Coleman. My wife converted to the Catholic faith here. My four children received the sacraments here. We have been very blessed with all the priests and by Father Foudy.”

As a tribute to Father Foudy, Testa quoted some lyrics from the Broadway musical Wicked: “Who can say if I've been changed for the better? But because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”

Photos of Father Thomas Foudy are displayed as part of a memorial to him May 19, the day he died. The photos were found at the parish days before his death when staff were looking for historical items to display for the parish's 60th anniversary celebration planned for the same day he died. The man who served the parish from 1989 to 2015 was loved by many and helped expand and grow the parish and school in many initiatives.

Photographer: LINDA REEVES | FC

Photos of Father Thomas Foudy are displayed as part of a memorial to him May 19, the day he died. The photos were found at the parish days before his death when staff were looking for historical items to display for the parish's 60th anniversary celebration planned for the same day he died. The man who served the parish from 1989 to 2015 was loved by many and helped expand and grow the parish and school in many initiatives.

Father Thomas Foudy: Born Sept. 19, 1941; ordained June 10, 1967; died May 19, 2019.

Photographer:

Father Thomas Foudy: Born Sept. 19, 1941; ordained June 10, 1967; died May 19, 2019.

A plaque over the door of the St. Coleman Parish Hall features the name of Father Thomas F. Foudy, who died May 19, hours before the parish gathered to mark its 60th anniversary. The day turned into a celebration of Father Foudy's life. According to those close to him, Father Foudy, former pastor, loved St. Coleman Parish and School and was dedicated to Catholic education, supporting and helping with various initiatives to expand facilities and opportunities for students. The parish and school dedicated the parish hall to him as a permanent tribute.

Photographer: LINDA REEVES | FC

A plaque over the door of the St. Coleman Parish Hall features the name of Father Thomas F. Foudy, who died May 19, hours before the parish gathered to mark its 60th anniversary. The day turned into a celebration of Father Foudy's life. According to those close to him, Father Foudy, former pastor, loved St. Coleman Parish and School and was dedicated to Catholic education, supporting and helping with various initiatives to expand facilities and opportunities for students. The parish and school dedicated the parish hall to him as a permanent tribute.

Father Foudy, 77, a priest for over 50 years, served St. Coleman from 1989 to 2015, following in the footsteps of two other wonderful shepherds. Father Michael J. Fogarty, founding pastor, built a parish complex with the first simple church, convent, parish hall and school. Upon his retirement in 1974, Msgr. Dominic Barry became pastor. Msgr. Barry ushered St. Coleman through a period of tremendous growth and change. He built a new rectory and the present-day church with towering steeple that was dedicated in May 1986.

Upon the death of Msgr. Barry in 1989, Father Foudy became the third pastor as the St. Coleman family continued to grow. During his tenure, he substantially increased the capacity of St. Coleman School by converting the original rectory and convent buildings into classroom space, adding an outdoor gymnasium and installing state-of-the-art technology. As a permanent tribute to Father Foudy’s commitment to Catholic education at St. Coleman School, the parish hall was named in his honor prior to his retirement in 2015.

 

‘HE WAS A LEGEND’

“I came here because of Father Foudy,” said Kathy Diebold, president of the St. Coleman Women’s Council, a very active club dedicated to helping the parish. “He was friendly, welcoming. I loved him. There would be kids screaming in the church. He would stop and say, ‘That’s our future.’ It was great. He was a legend.”

Richard Porraro came to St. Coleman 55 years ago. He helped launch the annual parish Italian festival in 1984, the main fundraiser for the parish and school. He said he greatly admired Father Foudy and fondly recalled the great Italian-Irish bond the two men had.

Richard Porraro, far left, a parishioner of St. Coleman for 55 years, gathers with family and friends during St. Coleman's anniversary celebration, which also celebrated the life of Father Thomas F. Foudy. He died May 19, the day of the anniversary celebration. Porraro and Father Foudy were close friends. Porraro shared stories of his good friend saying that the priest was a role model of faith and love.

Photographer: LINDA REEVES | FC

Richard Porraro, far left, a parishioner of St. Coleman for 55 years, gathers with family and friends during St. Coleman's anniversary celebration, which also celebrated the life of Father Thomas F. Foudy. He died May 19, the day of the anniversary celebration. Porraro and Father Foudy were close friends. Porraro shared stories of his good friend saying that the priest was a role model of faith and love.

Pioneers and longtime members of St. Coleman Parish gather May 19 to celebrate, reflect on the past and remember Father Thomas Foudy, who died that morning. The parish had planned a celebration marking its 60th anniversary, and Father Foudy played a big part in the lives of many who had gathered.

Photographer: LINDA REEVES | FC

Pioneers and longtime members of St. Coleman Parish gather May 19 to celebrate, reflect on the past and remember Father Thomas Foudy, who died that morning. The parish had planned a celebration marking its 60th anniversary, and Father Foudy played a big part in the lives of many who had gathered.

“He helped me bury my wife when she died,” said Porraro. “He was there when I married my second wife. He was a big part of my life. He was committed to living life as a priest.”

Father Garcia, 30, was appointed administrator of St. Coleman upon the departure of Father Henryk Pawelec, who succeeded Father Foudy. Father Pawelec resigned in August 2018 after an archdiocesan investigation determined he had misappropriated parish funds. Obviously, the parish family was shaken and many parishioners left deeply disturbed.

Sandy Barry is one of those faithful, who stayed with forward-looking hope. The parish is starting to grow again, and Father Garcia is picking up where Father Foudy left off, adding new ministries and initiatives.

“He came in and he has been a true shepherd,” she said. “He has gone out of his way to reach out to everyone, making them feel welcome. People are coming back. Today is a homecoming, and it is the day that Father Foudy passed away. He was a big part in this parish.”

She shared that she and Father Foudy were both going through chemo. “He would say, we will get through this,” she said.

She called this “a new chapter” in St. Coleman’s 60-year history, adding, “We have a new sense of life in the parish. It is so good.”

 

FUNERAL SERVICES

A vigil for Father Foudy is scheduled for Wednesday, May 22, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., followed by a Mass Thursday, May 23, at 11 a.m., both at St. Coleman. The church is located at 1200 South Federal Highway, Pompano Beach.

Born Sept. 19, 1941, in Inagh, County Clare, Ireland, the youngest of 14 children, Father Foudy was ordained June 10, 1967, in Thurles, Ireland. He came to South Florida that same year and served as parochial vicar at St. Timothy, Miami (1967-69); St. Margaret, Clewiston (1969-70); and St. Anthony, Fort Lauderdale (1970-71). He studied in Rome from 1971 to 1974 and upon returning joined the faculty at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, teaching dogmatic theology. He was named pastor of St. Coleman in 1989 and remained there until his retirement from fulltime ministry in June 2015.

This article has been corrected to note that Father Foudy taught dogmatic, not moral, theology at the major seminary.

Comments from readers

Angela Schack - 05/25/2019 10:19 PM
Father Foudy anointed my mom when she was in the hospital over 16 years ago and married my son after he had heart surgery - he said the prayers of the parishioners got him through that. He was so knowledgeable and so caring - he loved the children and the school . We were expecting him to do another mass at St. Coleman’s but that didn’t happen. I went to a St Patrick’s celebration for him at Knights of Columbus - another happy memory. God rest his precious soul. - our Lord took him to eternal peace - no more pain. We are blessed having Father Michael who is a wonderful caring devoted priest!!
Robert Gibbons - 05/23/2019 06:28 AM
I worked with Father Foudy as his colleague on the Seminary faculty. He had taught me previously, when I was a student. I learned so much from him. I have one correction for this article: he taught dogmatic theology, not moral theology. May he rest in peace.

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