John L. Gallagher, O.S.A.

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1906 – 1982 (March 27)

John Leo Gallagher, son of John L. Gallagher and Elizabeth McMenamin, was born in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania on October 11, 1906. He attended Saint Mary’s Parish grammar school in Phoenixville and Saint Mary’s Commercial High School for one year. After working for a year in his hometown he entered Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, New York, where he distinguished himself as a student leader, president of his class, and won letters in baseball, football, and basketball. Received into Good Counsel Novitiate, New Hamburg, New York on September 8, 1927, he professed simple vows on September 9, 1928, and solemn vows on September 9, 1931. He entered the professorium at Villanova where he majored in philosophy and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1932. His theological training was obtained at Augustinian College, Washington, DC, where he was ordained to the priesthood on June 11, 1935. Catholic University awarded him a Master of Arts degree in history in June 1936.

Father Gallagher was assigned in 1936 to Villanova Preparatory School, Ojai, California, where he taught for 11 years and acted as procurator for the last seven years there. Here and in several secondary schools with which he was later associated he instituted and/or enhanced a school band, to afford students an opportunity to develop their musical talents but also to encourage school spirit and community pride. From 1947 to 1953 he was prior and principal of Saint Augustine High School, San Diego, CA., where he was instrumental in building a gymnasium and an additional classroom complex, thus doubling enrollment. 

Returning to the east cost he was chosen prior and founding principal of Archbishop Prendergast High School, Drexel Hill, Pa., in 1953, and when the new building was dedicated he became the first principal of Monsignor Bonner High School on the same grounds. From 1959 to 1960 he was rector of Colegio San Agustin, Havana, Cuba. From 1960 to 1965 he engaged his energies in pastoral work at Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Parish, the Bronx, N.Y. From 1965 to 1968 he was principal of Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, DC. After a brief assignment in 1968 at Austin Preparatory School, Reading, Massachusetts, he was assigned to Saint James Parish, Carthage, N.Y., in 1969, and to Our Mother of Consolation Parish, Chestnut Hill, Pa., in 1970. He was named prior at Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Parish, Atlantic City, New Jersey in (1971 and retired there in 1975.

Blessed with a winning smile Father Gallagher made good use of his leadership qualities and athletic prowess in forwarding his profoundly spiritual apostolate, principally in education. He possessed to an eminent degree the ability to establish a responsive rapport with all age groups. His idea of “community” involved not only the Augustinian community but the whole student-body as well, and indeed the entire neighborhood and town. As a result he was able to enkindle enthusiasm in all to rally to the support of the school. He was a truly vibrant personality and priest.
For a number of years he patiently endured the ravages of a debilitating cancer and was lovingly cared for by the Sisters of Saint Joseph at Saint Joseph Villa, Flourtown, Pa., where he died on March 27, 1982.

Father John Gallagher is buried in the Augustinian plot at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, Pa.