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Pastor Emeritus of St. Cletus Parish in La Grange

CHICAGO (January 2, 2013) – Rev. Charles G. Gallagher, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago for 68 years and pastor emeritus of St. Cletus Parish in La Grange, died Saturday, December 29, 2012.  He was 93 years old.  Fr. Gallagher was a skillful writer and for 22 years was the editor of Sursum Corda, a newsletter for retired priests published six times a year.  His recent resignation as editor would have taken effect the first day of this year.

A Chicago native, Fr. Gallagher grew up on the city’s north side.  He graduated from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic School, Quigley Preparatory Seminary and the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary.  He was ordained by Cardinal Stritch in 1944.

Fr. Gallagher’s first assignment was assistant pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Oak Park, where he served for seven years from 1944 to 1951.  For the next four years, he was a chaplain in the United States Army, remaining in the reserves after his active duty.

From 1955 to 1971, Fr. Gallagher served as an assistant pastor at three suburban parishes and one in Chicago. These included: Divine Infant Jesus in Westchester from 1955 to 1962; St. John Vianney in Northlake from 1962 to 1967; St. Isaac Jogues in Niles from 1967 to 1970; and Our Lady of Mercy Parish on Chicago’s north side from 1970 to 1971.

In 1971, he was named pastor of St. Cletus Parish in La Grange, the second priest to serve in that capacity for the parish, founded in 1951.  For 18 years, Fr. Gallagher served the families of St. Cletus, which at the time numbered over 2000.  Though retired from active ministry in 1989, Fr. Gallagher continued to serve the St. Cletus community particularly for special occasions, especially the annual Mass for veterans on July 4.

Bobbie Kallal has worked at St. Cletus for over 30 years and was hired by Fr. Gallagher.  She used the words “remarkable” and “dedicated” in describing Fr. Gallagher, who she said insisted on greeting everyone in the church vestibule before Masses.  “He had a knack for getting people interested in his projects and they wound up using talents they never knew they had,” Kallal said.  The parish’s 25th anniversary booklet notes that St. Cletus was a special parish because it reflected the leadership of Fr. Gallagher.  Kallal noted that he was a great administrator and writer and the people had a great affection for him.

Visitation for Fr. Gallagher will take place from 3 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, January 3, at St. Cletus Church, 600 West 55th Street in La Grange. Auxiliary Bishop John Manz will be the main celebrant at a funeral Mass for Fr. Gallagher at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, January 4, at St. Cletus.

Interment will take place at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines.  Fr. Gallagher is survived by two sisters, Frances Murray and Loretta Moran and many nieces and nephews.

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