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Father Jeremiah Singleton, 82

Former pastor of St. Anthony, Fort Lauderdale, served in South Florida for more than 50 years

Update: Archbishop Thomas Wenski will celebrate a memorial Mass for Father Jeremiah Singleton on Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, at 5 p.m. at St. Anthony Church, 901 N.E. Second St., Fort Lauderdale.

MIAMI | Funeral services were held today, Nov. 27, 2023, in his native Ireland for Father Jeremiah “Jerry” Singleton, 82, an archdiocesan priest who last served as pastor of St. Anthony Church in Fort Lauderdale.

A fan of Irish and country-western music who loved playing golf and returning to the “home farm” in Ireland, Father Singleton died Nov. 24, “peacefully, surrounded by his loving family and in the wonderful care of the staff of Araglen House, Boherbue,” according to the online funeral notice.

Father Jeremiah "Jerry" Singleton, born July 16, 1941; ordained June 13, 1965; died Nov. 24, 2023.

Photographer:

Father Jeremiah "Jerry" Singleton, born July 16, 1941; ordained June 13, 1965; died Nov. 24, 2023.

He had been a priest for 58 years, arriving in South Florida after his ordination in Ireland. He retired from active ministry in 2014, after serving as pastor of St. Anthony for nearly a decade. He had served as parochial vicar there from June 2002 until his initial appointment as temporary administrator in July 2004, and pastor in December 2005.

His funeral Mass, celebrated at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Cullen, County Cork, Ireland, was livestreamed and can be viewed on YouTube (above. His niece's remarks begin at 1:11).

Father Singleton was born in County Cork, Ireland, and studied for the priesthood at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Thurles, County Tipperary. Ordained in the Thurles cathedral June 13, 1965, he was among 11 priests ordained that year for the Diocese of Miami, which then included the 16 counties in the southern half of Florida. Ten of those priests were Irish born, like himself, and had not set foot in the U.S. before coming to South Florida.

His first years here he served as parochial vicar at St. Helen, Vero Beach (1965-67); St. Joan of Arc, Boca Raton (1967-69); and Sacred Heart, Homestead (1969-70). He served as administrator of San Isidro, Pompano Beach, (1970-71) and Our Lady of Guadalupe, Immokalee (1971-77), while also serving as assistant director of the archdiocese’s Rural Life Bureau.

According to a Building the City of God profile from July 2014, Father Singleton realized during his time in Immokalee that he had an alcohol addiction and sought professional counseling.

Asked how it affected his ministry, he said: “It informs your whole life. I got into AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and it gave me a whole new understanding of my vulnerability, and how you're not an island unto yourself. And (it provided) a new understanding of God the Father. Prior to that, it was 'Do you believe that God loves you?' But through AA, I experienced it. That influenced my relationship with God, and how I related to others.”

After a one-year leave of absence, he served on the staff of the Catholic Service Bureau (now Catholic Charities) in West Palm Beach and as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart in Lake Worth (1978-80). From January 1980 to December 1982, he served at Holy Cross Parish in Indiantown. All were part of the Archdiocese of Miami until the Diocese of Palm Beach was created in 1984.

Father Singleton then went on an extended leave of absence. Seeking to help others out of substance abuse, he studied the subject at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. He then worked at the Palm Beach Institute, became clinical director of Anon Anew in Boca Raton, and eventually executive director of the Hanley-Hazelden Center in West Palm Beach.

He returned to active ministry in the Archdiocese of Miami in 2001, completing higher studies at the Pope John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, before beginning his last assignment, at St. Anthony, in June 2002.

Father Singleton also was proud of his work with migrants, he said in that City of God profile, because “you come to realize what is really significant in your life. The day-to-day story about the migrants was survival — for rent, for food. They always gravitated to the Church. We also had to become their advocates for the state. All that opens you up to what it means to survive and be a human being. And how you're aided by the spiritual.”

Father Singleton is survived by a brother, Noel, two sisters-in-law, Cecelia and Ann, nephews, nieces, grandnephews, grandnieces, extended family, and a wide circle of friends and clergy in Ireland and the U.S.

Comments from readers

James D Davis - 12/09/2023 04:25 PM
I'm both sad and glad to learn of Father Jerry's passing. He was a true pastor and Christian statesman. He shared the best of Irish spirituality with South Florida.