Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Retired Priest Was 'Heart and Soul' of Parish; Dies at 78

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Retired Priest Was 'Heart and Soul' of Parish; Dies at 78

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Times-Union staff writer

Monsignor Patrick Madden had such a way with people that they flocked to his door to talk about their needs or to receive an inspiring boost.

And he was so beloved that when he said his Westside church needed a new sanctuary, the money came in without a hard sell.

The retired Irish priest, who was pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Blanding Boulevard for 31 years, died March 10. He was 78. His funeral was Monday, and he was buried at San Lorenzo Cemetery in St. Augustine.

"No matter who came to the rectory door, he spent time with them and make them feel special," said Sharon Pritchett, a parishioner who has known Madden since 1970. "Everyone will tell you that he was kind and gentle. He taught us that we had a loving, forgiving God that we could turn our problems over to no matter how big they were."

The tall, soft-spoken priest quickly became the "heart and soul" of the church, Pritchett said. He retired in 2001 and celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination in June.

Caron Wilson, who had known Madden for years, said his calm, reassuring attitude provided a safe harbor for people to discuss their concerns.

"You always felt like you were in the presence of a higher power when in his company," Wilson said. "The spirit of God surrounded him. He was brother, father, friend, confidant, whatever you needed at the time."

Born in County Mayo, Ireland, he attended St. Patrick's Seminary and St. Patrick's College where he studied Latin and Greek. He came to the Diocese of St. Augustine a few months after his ordination in June 1953.

After serving in several South Florida parishes, he completed his doctoral studies at Catholic University in Washington In 1958, he came to Jacksonville, where he ministered at Assumption Catholic Church on the Southside and taught at Bishop Kenny High School. …

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