Photo: Bishop Walsh greets priests after his ordination as bishop in 2003. Gregory A. Shemitz photo
Retired Bishop Paul Henry. Walsh, who served as an auxiliary bishop of the Rockville Centre diocese from 2003 until his retirement in 2012, died on Saturday, October 18, 2014. He was 77 years old. He was the loving brother of Michael and his wife Susan. He is also survived by his niece Jennifer Buell (Ian) and nephews Timothy (Kate) and Michael.
A wake will be held for Bishop Walsh at the Church of Saint Patrick, (280 East Main Street, Smithtown, NY 11787) on Tuesday, October 21, 2014 from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. and Wednesday, October 22, 2014 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
The Mass of Transferral will take place at the Church of Saint Patrick, Smithtown, on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. Auxiliary Bishop Robert Brennan will be the presider and homilist.
The Funeral Mass will take place at the Cathedral of Saint Agnes, (29 Quealy Place, Rockville Centre, NY 11570) on Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. Bishop William Murphy will be the presider and homilist. Burial will follow at Saint Patrick Cemetery in Smithtown.
“The return of Bishop Paul Walsh to our Father in heaven seemed imminent these past few weeks,” said Bishop Murphy. “Yet his loss has struck his family, friends, beloved parishioners, our whole Diocese, and me personally because he was for us all a priest and bishop who lived only for Christ and His people. His gentle demeanor and his kind disposition are hallmarks of a priest who served the Church in the Dominican Order with distinction and who came home to us to become a parish priest because all he wanted as a priest was to be a pastor. And pastor he was after the mind and heart of Jesus Christ. In Centerport and for many years at St. Patrick in Smithtown he touched hearts and changed lives simply by being the holy man everyone loved as ‘their priest’. When the Holy Father Pope John Paul II named him an Auxiliary Bishop in 2003, he took on new pastoral work assisting me in the pastoral care of the whole Diocese. For him it was simply continuing to pastor in a larger field the same people he loved wherever he had served before. What a gift he was and what a gift he remains for us all. May the choirs of angels, Dear Bishop Paul, lead you into paradise, may the martyrs come to welcome you and take you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem.”
“He was a trusted mentor and role model a good number of the younger priests who served with him, including myself,” said Bishop Robert Brennan, auxiliary bishop, Diocese of Rockville Centre.
Born August 17, 1937 in Brooklyn to Paul J. and Dorothy Kehlenbeck Walsh, Bishop Walsh’s family moved to Long Island when he was in elementary school. He attended Saint Barnabas School in Bellmore and Seton Hall High School in Patchogue. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Providence College in Rhode Island and studied for the priesthood at the Dominican House of Studies in Dover, Massachusetts, and the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., receiving master’s degrees in philosophy and theology. He was ordained a Dominican priest on June 9, 1966 by Bishop Paul F. Tanner at Saint Dominic Church, Washington, DC.
He was first assigned as head chaplain and teacher of Moral Theology at Providence College in Rhode Island in 1967. In 1974, then Father Walsh became Director of Formation for the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC where he was involved with the formation of students preparing for the priesthood. He also studied Moral Theology at the Jesuit Weston School of Theology in Weston, Massachusetts.
He returned to the New York area in 1978 as pastor of the Church of Saint Vincent Ferrer in Manhattan. During his time there, Father Walsh would also serve as the prior of his community for two and a half years.
He returned to Long Island in 1983, serving as an associate pastor at the Parish of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Centerport and was incardinated as a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre the following year.
In 1988, he was assigned as an associate pastor at the Church of Saint Patrick, Smithtown and was named pastor in 1990. On May 27, 1996, Father Walsh was named Honorary Prelate to His Holiness Pope John Paul II with the title of Monsignor.
Monsignor Walsh also served on the Admissions Board of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington from 1997-2001 and on the Board of The Long Island Catholic newspaper from 1999-2001. In 1995 he became Chaplain for the Suffolk County Police Department.
On April 3, 2003, Pope John Paul II, now Saint Pope John Paul II appointed Monsignor Walsh auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre and he was installed on Ascension Thursday, May 29, 2003 at the Cathedral of Saint Agnes in Rockville Centre.
Bishop Walsh then became vicar of the Western Vicariate of the Diocese and pastor of Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Church, Roosevelt. He continued as pastor until 2009.
During his retirement and through to his final days, Bishop Walsh selflessly served the parishioners of the Church of Our Holy Redeemer, Freeport.
Upon his retirement in August, 2012, Bishop Walsh sent a letter to the priests of the Diocese expressing his gratitude for the support and friendship extended to him over the years. “I came to the Diocese of Rockville Centre because it was the same Diocese of my family. I am grateful for the friendship of the clergy and the people who have prayed for me and with me and supported me in so many ways,” he wrote. “Although I was very happy to be a Dominican priest, there was always something in my heart reminding me that serving the people and being with the people as a parish priest was always attractive to me.”