In 2019 as he marked his 65th ordination jubilee, he told The Catholic Sun that he owed his life and vocation to his parents. “They were people who believed in the Church, who went to Mass frequently and made sure that I did — and they taught me how to pray.”
Rev. Msgr. John J. Heagerty died at the age of 96 after many years of priestly service to parishes in the diocese as well as seven years as an educator and eventually principal at Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School in Syracuse.
Born to John and Florence Hollenbeck Heagerty on Syracuse’s North Side, he attended St. John the Baptist parish. He held a master’s degree in education from Syracuse University, a certificate in administration from Georgetown University and a certificate in curriculum from Marquette University in Milwaukee.
He studied for the priesthood at St. Andrew and St. Bernard seminaries in Rochester and was ordained in 1954 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse.
Msgr. Heagerty’s pastoral assignments included associate pastor at St. Mary’s in Skaneateles and Blessed Sacrament in Syracuse and pastor of St. Patrick’s in Chittenango, St. John the Evangelist in Syracuse, St. Paul’s in Binghamton and St. Matthew’s in East Syracuse, where he served for 21 years until his retirement in 1997. Msgr. Heagerty also served as a member of the faculty at Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School in Syracuse in 1963, and as principal of the school from 1967 to 1970.
In retirement, Msgr. Heagerty assisted in a number of parishes, including St. Joseph’s in Liverpool, St. Joseph’s in Camillus and St. Mary’s in Cortland, as well as Christ the King Retreat House in Syracuse. He lived at The Nottingham in Jamesville, where he celebrated Mass at the healthcare center.
He also loved to play golf, and did so as recently as spring of this year.
In his jubilee interview, he shared that “I’ve been impressed, every place I’ve been, at the ability of the people to believe in spite of difficulties. They have faith, and they have hope and charity.” Msgr. Heagerty added then that he hoped those he served would recall him as someone who “believed in God and practiced.”
Msgr.’s funeral was held Aug. 25 at St. Matthew’s Church in East Syracuse and he was laid to rest at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Oswego in a private ceremony.