Fr. Maurice Gallagher

His Heavenly Father has called him home. His earthly work is done.
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Father Maurice Orlando Gallagher, 94, died Monday, May 25, 2015 at Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waukon. Funeral services were held Saturday, May 30 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Hanover. Burial was at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Hanover.
Honorary casketbearers were all of Father Maurice’s nieces and nephews. Casketbearers were Maury Gallagher, Greg Whalen, Leonard Bulman, Floyd Mount, Tom Tierney, Joe Gallagher, Jr., David Mulholland, Don Gallagher, Jr., Shawn Gallagher and Rob Sweet.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated in the near future at Sacred Heart Church in Avondale, CO. Arrangements are pending.
He is survived by two sisters, Idella (Bernard) Bresnahan of Waukon and Karen Sweet of Minneapolis, MN; three brothers, Robert (Connie) of Waukon, Joe (Inez) of Dorchester and Donald (Charlene) of Bossier City, LA. He was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, Vernon Gallagher and Thomas Gallagher; and a sister, Dorothy Deeny.
Father Maurice Orlando Gallagher was born May 4, 1921 in Hanover Township, the son of Maurice Francis and Estella (Dahlen) Gallagher. He was baptized and confirmed at St. Mary’s Hanover Catholic Church and graduated from Immaculate Conception High School in Lansing in 1939. In September 1939 a somewhat reluctant seminarian reported to the Pontifical College Josephinum in Worthington, OH.
Somewhat reluctant? Yes, but the price was right for an education, $100 a year for tuition, room and board. Somewhat reluctant? Yes, but he stayed for 11 years. He had heard the call. He was ordained into the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church June 3, 1950.
Prior to his ordination, he had volunteered for assignment to Pueblo, CO, the area of the country most in need of priests at that time. Following his ordination, he was assigned as Assistant Pastor to Sacred Heart Cathedral in Pueblo. Subsequent assignments as Pastor included Saint Joseph’s Parish in Salida, CO and Saint Mary’s Parish in Walsenburg, CO. From 1979 to 2000, Father Gallagher served as Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Avondale, CO, with missions in Boone and Fowler.
Father Maurice, as he was known to family, friends and parishioners, carried the faith and rural midwestern values he acquired growing up in northeast Iowa into his ministry. For most of his career, he served in areas which were economically depressed. He was known for his service to those in need, service which also extended beyond the members of his parish to the hundreds of migrant workers and their families who annually toil in the fields around Avondale, CO.
There was no pretension in this man. He was as comfortable in his faded blue jeans doing chores in a stable as he was in the vestments worn in the more formal aspects of his ministry. He was down to earth, strong willed, single minded and driven to serve others. Father Maurice had a special ability to fix broken lives, console people’s sorrow, and comfort them when they lost someone important in their lives.
He recognized that to properly minister to the spiritual needs of those he served, their physical and emotional needs also required attention. That was the foundation of his ministry. He would not let bureaucracy stand in his way when serving others.
“All I do,” Father Maurice would say, “is what I’m supposed to do. A priest has to be a servant of the people. If he’s not, he’s missing his calling.” Through 65 years as a Priest, Father Maurice never missed his calling. His mission was “to act justly, love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6.8) And he did.
Rest in peace, Padre.
The family requests memorials in lieu of flowers. Memorials may be sent to Los Pobres Center for the Poor, P.O. Box 304, Avondale, CO 81022 or dropped off at Martin Funeral Home in Waukon. Father Gallagher is the founder of Los Pobres Center for the Poor, which serves farm workers from southern Colorado weekly.
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