Father Fitzpatrick, Priest And Teacher, Dies In Marietta
Published: October 18, 2007
MARIETTA—Father John Joseph Fitzpatrick was equally at home under the bright stage lights as he was in the classroom at Aquinas High School in Augusta, where he was the beloved “Father Fitz.”
The Savannah native entertained theatergoers as the milkman Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” and as an aging vaudeville star in “The Sunshine Boys,” among his acting roles.
“He was a commanding presence on stage,” said Peggy Lloyd, the media specialist at the Catholic high school. Father Fitzpatrick was a close friend to Lloyd’s family, where her children loved him as a “friend, as well as a teacher and mentor.” In the classroom he grabbed the attention of his teenaged students, whether it was history, English, or Latin class. “He used his theatrical talents in the classroom,” Lloyd said.
Father Fitzpatrick, 73, a priest of the Diocese of Savannah, died of cancer Sept. 28 in Marietta. In his retirement he continued to serve the church by celebrating Mass monthly at Transfiguration Church in Marietta. He was a priest for 47 years.
Bishop J. Kevin Boland, who visited Father Fitzpatrick at his home before his death, said the priest touched many lives working with people.
Like all diocesan priests Father Fitzpatrick’s ministry was serving people, Bishop Boland said. “He touched their minds and hearts with a gentleness and compassion that was grace-filled,” he said.
Father Fitzpatrick was a regular presence at Aquinas High School for two decades. He joined the teaching staff in 1970 and served as its principal from 1990 to 1994. He started the high school’s drama department, which performed spring musicals. Bishop Boland said Father Fitzpatrick’s talent was well known. “His resonant voice will long be remembered. Music, song and choreography were an integral part of his persona,” he said.
Father Fitzpatrick attended the Benedictine Military School in Savannah before attending St. Mary’s Seminary in Maryland. He was ordained in Savannah’s Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in 1960. He served as assistant pastor of St. Joseph Church in Macon from 1960-1964 and as administrator of St. Matthew Church in Statesboro from 1968-1970.
When he left the high school, he was the pastor of St. Michael Church on Tybee Island from 1995 until he retired in 2003.
Remembrances may be made to the Priests’ Retirement Fund, Catholic Pastoral Center, 601 East Liberty St., Savannah, GA 31401-5196.