SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Diocese of Savannah confirmed Father Jeremiah McCarthy, a longtime priest at Blessed Sacrament and friend of WTOC, passed away Thursday afternoon at his home in Savannah.
During 35 years as a priest in Savannah, Father McCarthy was more than the spiritual leader of one church. He was a proud part of many different Savannah communities.
“He was involved with the families. He would get out and eat with the families and go to all the events and all the ballgames. He was just that kind of guy who wanted to be part of the community family, I guess you would say,” Blessed Sacrament School Principal Lynn Brown said.
The County Cork native counted himself among Savannah’s Irish and was a faithful member of the local Catholic Community.
“Never met a stranger, was always quick to speak and make a friend.”
He was also a part of the WTOC family, providing insight, guidance, and commentary as a co-host on our broadcast of the St. Patrick’s Day Mass for years.
“Of course, getting on the broadcast of the mass really ingratiated him to people well beyond Savannah, explaining what we do and why we do it during the mass,” said Caleb Harkelroad, who received all his Catholic Sacraments from Father McCarthy.
Father McCarthy passed away Thursday after a long illness and after returning to a place he comes to know as home upon receiving his first assignment as a priest here in 1978.
“He certainly had a wonderful love of God and taught that. He was also a very loyal person. I think he loved Savannah and I guess he was always loyal to the first place he worked after he was ordained.”
Brown became principal at Blessed Sacrament during Father McCarthy’s 17 years as pastor there. And that is also where he met and helped mold Harkelroad.
“Gave me all my sacraments and encouraged me to grow up in the faith and I said this morning, his priestly example was one of the reasons I was very attracted to the priesthood and tried the seminary.”
Father McCarthy retired to Savannah in 2018 - after lung ailments and a cancer diagnosis - and it is where he will be remembered as a part of the church, a part of the family, a part of the city.
“I think it was probably a bright spot in among his sicknesses and his illnesses to be back home with people that he loved.”
A vigil service was held on Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 5 p.m. at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. To view the live stream of the service, go to the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church Facebook page.
The Mass of Christian Burial was held Thursday, September 3 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist.