Former Franciscan Brother With Teaching, Counseling Background Named Prelate of Honor
ROCKVILLE CENTRE, NEW YORK, June 5, 2007 — Pope Benedict XVI conferred the papal honor of monsignor on Father Paul F. Rahilly, pastor of St. Joachim parish, Cedarhurst, N.Y. Msgr. Rahilly was one of two monsignors to be named a Prelate of Honor, which is bestowed upon priests holding significant canonical offices or having more advanced years. The title is distinguished by red piping and buttons on a black cassock, and a purple sash.
“I never expected to receive the honor—saw no reason for it and still don’t,” Msgr. Rahilly said. “The reaction from the parishioners has been overwhelming. It is a shared honor.”
Msgr. Rahilly has been pastor at St. Joachim parish since 1994. He said the best part about the experience has been “getting to know so many people on a first–name basis” and sharing in their sorrows and joys.
“My life here is so filled with people,” he said. “It’s been a very happy experience. I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
Msgr. Rahilly was born on Valentine’s Day and raised in Oyster Bay, N.Y. He was a Franciscan Brother for 20 years before entering the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington, N.Y. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from St. Francis College, Brooklyn, N.Y., and a master’s degree in theology from St. John’s University. He also completed graduate studies in psychological counseling at Long Island University, Brookville, N.Y.
As a brother, he taught at Our Lady of Lourdes School, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Bishop Ford High School, Brooklyn, N.Y.; and St. Anthony High School, then in Smithtown, N.Y., where he taught English and religious education and also served as guidance counselor.
During his time as a brother, he worked with divorced and separated Catholic support groups and with high school and college retreat groups.
Msgr. Rahilly was also part-time parish counselor at Sts Philip and James parish, St. James, N.Y., for six years. For three summers between 1978 and 1980, he served as parish administrator at Most Precious Blood Mission parish, Davis Park, N.Y.
“It was the nicest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” he said, referring to taking the ferry to Fire Island.
He said both his involvement in parish life and being a Franciscan Brother influenced his decision to enter the priesthood.
“I would never have become a priest if I hadn’t been a brother,” he said. He also said his background in education influenced his preaching.
He was ordained a priest May 9, 1981 and assigned to St. Raphael parish, East Meadow, N.Y., followed by St. Thomas the Apostle parish, West Hempstead, N.Y., and SS Cyril and Methodius parish, Deer Park, N.Y.
In the mid–1980s, he helped found the AIDS team at Nassau University Medical Center, where he worked with as many as 30 in–resident patients and others affected by the virus.
“In many ways it was a life–changing experience,” Msgr. Rahilly said. “I’m a changed person because of that ministry.”
Msgr. Rahilly has been described as engaging and humorous.
“He has a marvelous sense of humor,” said Franciscan Brother Patrick Murphy, who has known him for about 40 years. “It’s a humor that really lifts people up.”
Editor’s Note: Photo Courtesy of The Long Island Catholic/Greg Shemitz
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About The Diocese of Rockville Centre
Celebrating its Golden Jubilee, the Diocese of Rockville Centre (www.drvc.org) was formed in 1957 and covers 1,198 square miles in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The diocese serves approximately 1.4 million Catholics (total population in both counties is approximately 2.8 million). There are 134 parishes in 115 towns. Last year over 18,000 baptisms, 18,000 confirmations, 19,000 first communions and 4,000 marriages took place in the diocese. There are approximately 22,000 students in Catholic elementary schools; 13,000 in secondary schools and 3,300 in higher institutions. There are 69 Catholic elementary and high schools and one Catholic college in the diocese. There are also 120,189 total students in religious education. Catholic Health Services of Long Island consists of five hospitals, three nursing homes, a community-based home for those with special needs and a hospice. Last year, Catholic Charities assisted more than 59,000 individuals who are poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged on Long Island. (4/20/07)
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