Name: Father Jack Gallagher
Years ordained: 29
Current assignment: Pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Davenport, canonical pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Blue Grass and a judge on the Marriage Tribunal.
How did you know you were being called to priesthood? I thought I knew in high school, but wasn’t quite sure. So after college I went to work on Wall Street and then the Vietnam War came. I didn’t want to be drafted so I joined the Air Force and remained there for eight years.
When I was in Thailand, I was talking to a priest about my vocation. He advised me to get out of the military, get a job and then make a decision about entering the priesthood. So that’s how I came to Iowa. I was invited to a job interview in Walcott, working out at the I-80 Truck-O-Mat doing accounting work. After the first year I was thinking about the priesthood, but I got a raise and so I waited a year or two more before I realized I had to stop running away from making a decision.
Aside from your ordination Mass, what was your most memorable Mass? Nine months after I was ordained, one of my classmates was murdered in his rectory. I was at his funeral Mass in Jackson, Tenn. Because there was a big crowd, we were in a public auditorium having his Mass. Next door in the courthouse the man who murdered him was being arraigned. The priest’s pastor said, “Before anyone gives the sign of peace you have to forgive the guy (the killer).” Nobody moved. Everyone stood still; we looked around. Then the priest’s mother gave the sign of peace to her only surviving son. Once everyone saw her do it, slowly everyone gave each other the sign of peace. Even though my friend had died, he was still bringing about peace and reconciliation. I’ve never forgotten it.
What is most rewarding about being a priest? It’s the ministry of service and presence to people when they need it, whether for the sacraments or just being there.
What is most challenging about being a priest? Balancing ministry with administration.
What is your favorite Scripture passage? Hebrews: 13:5 — “… I will never forsake you or abandon you.”
What is your hobby? Genealogy; I’m doing the genealogy of my family, and a little photography and travel.