Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pastor Was Integral Part of Little Ferry Community

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pastor Was Integral Part of Little Ferry Community

Article excerpt

The Rev. Arthur Humphrey was in hospice care when superstorm Sandy's tidal surge deluged his Little Ferry church, St. Margaret of Cortona.

As the devastation came into focus, church trustees and Father Humphrey's friends made the decision to shield the pastor from the awful news.

"We needed to," said Regina Coyle, a trustee of the 600-family Roman Catholic parish, which serves Little Ferry and Moonachie, the Bergen County towns hit hardest by Sandy. "Even if he understood what was going on, we didn't want him bothered by it. We needed to keep him at peace with everything he was going through."

The man known as Father Art fought melanoma for several years and died early Saturday at Villa Marie Claire, the residential hospice in Saddle River operated by Holy Name Medical Center. He was 63.

A Union County native, Father Humphrey came to St. Margaret of Cortona in 2000 from Montclair State University, where he was a chaplain and chairman of the interfaith campus ministry. He became an essential part of the Little Ferry community, offering prayers and benedictions at Borough Council meetings and even officiating at Mayor Mauro Raguseo's April wedding.

At his last public appearance, he said a prayer at the June ceremony naming the Little Ferry post office after Marine Sgt. Matthew Fenton, a native son killed in Iraq in 2006.

"Father Art was a good man and quite the perfectionist," said Raguseo, a former Eucharistic minister. "He was very regimented and did things a certain way, but he was a great pastor and had a good sense of humor -- a dry sense of humor."

Coyle said Father Humphrey was "very organized and very much in charge -- he commanded a room when he walked in."

Father Humphrey entered Villa Marie Claire a week before the Oct. 29 storm. He arrived from a nursing facility in Teaneck.

The tidal surge sent 3 feet of water from the Hackensack River into St. Margaret's sanctuary and 2 feet into the social hall. Floodwaters also damaged the rectory and destroyed Father Humphrey's garaged SUV.

Sanctuary 'in pieces'

Repairs at St. Margaret will cost an estimated $750,000, said Jim Goodness, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Newark. …

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