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placeholder April 1, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA
Obituaries
Rev. Richard McCafferty, S.J.

Rev. Richard McCafferty, S.J.

Rev. Richard McCafferty, whom many at St. Charles Borromeo Parish considered as their emeritus "shepherd," died March 18 in Los Gatos after a long illness. He was 88.

The Jesuit priest lived for some 30 years in Livermore either in residence at the rectory or as parochial administrator. Long after he stepped down as administrator he lived in the community almost until his death. "People really cherished him," said Bev Nelson, a former secretary at St. Charles and who worked closely with the priest.

Rev. McCafferty was born in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, where he attended local schools and then St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Canada. After graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in 1946 he moved to the U.S., studied business for a year, and then he worked in the advertising business in New York City.

His life took a turn when, in 1953, he joined the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, at their novitiate of the New England Province, Shadowbrook, in Lenox, Massachusetts. Being several years older than his classmates, even those who were college graduates, was not an obstacle for the former ad man, who simply fit in.

"All his life he had a youthful, pragmatic spirit, always ready for new adventure," read an appreciation of Father McCafferty from the web site of the New England Province. And many adventures followed. After making his first vows in 1955, he had a one-year regency teaching history at St. George's College in Kingston, Jamaica. He and several of his contemporaries did theology studies at Eegenhoven, outside Louvain, Belgium. He was ordained there in 1962.

Father McCafferty graduated with a master's degree in communications in 1965 and a doctoral degree in 1969. Then he taught communications at a number of institutions, including Arizona State, Pepperdine, San Jose State and Mills College in Oakland, all the while moving across the country to the western U.S. He also wrote for newspapers, and found local parishes and Newman Centers that needed help. For a time he worked with film studios and TV producers.

He began teaching at Los Positas College in Livermore in 1990, beginning his long association in the Tri-Valley, and in 1994 joined the staff at St. Charles Borromeo in Livermore, when he served as administrator.

Although he had left the classroom, Father McCafferty's background as an educator and a Jesuit soon endeared him to parishioners. The priest carefully crafted his homilies. "He gave a great homily, which the older generation really appreciated," said Nelson. "He gave you a lot to think about."

To Jan Potts, who works in the communications department for the diocese, he was a lot like Archbishop Alex J. Brunett, currently serving the diocese as apostolic administrator. "Father Richard could have retired to a comfortable life of leisure, he instead offered to lead St. Charles during a long leadership vacancy."

"He was the first priest I came to know well as a person, not a figurehead, and the one who made me realize that being a Catholic Christian demanded real action from me and not just attendance at Mass. It was a privilege to work with him and to know him," Potts said.

Father Richard moved to a senior residence near the parish in 2011 along with his beloved cat, Tinkerbelle. When his health began to fail in late 2012, he was moved to the infirmary of the Jesuit's California Province in Los Gatos. He died there on March 18.

Survivors include a niece and a cousin.

The funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. April 6 at St. Charles Borromeo Parish, 1315 Lomitas Ave., Livermore. Burial will be at the Jesuit Community Cemetery in Santa Clara.

 
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