Francis B. Gilligan, O.S.A.

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1916 – 1988 (June 11)

Francis Bernard Gilligan was born in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 3, 1916, to Thomas A. Gilligan and Ellen Fanning. He had four brothers and fours sisters. Thomas, his older brother, became a member of the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova, and two of his sisters became Sisters of Saint Joseph. He was baptized in the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi on November 26, 1916, and received his early education in the parish grammar school. He attended Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia for two years and then transferred to Augustinian Academy on Staten Island, New York, from which he graduated as a postulant in June 1935. Frank was accepted into Our Mother of Good Counsel Novitiate, New Hamburg, N.Y., and professed simple vows on September 10, 1936. His college years were spent at Saint Mary’s Hall, on the campus of Villanova College, Villanova, PA, where he professed solemn vows on September 10, 1939. He graduated with a B.A. degree in philosophy in June 1940, and pursued theological studies at Augustinian College, Washington, DC. He was ordained to the priesthood at Trinity Chapel on May 29, 1943. While studying theology he received a master’s degree in speech and drama from The Catholic University in 1944. 

Father Gilligan’s first assignment was to Malvern Preparatory School, Malvern, PA, in 1944, and except for a summer assignment in 1952 to Our Mother of Good Counsel Parish in Los Angeles, CA, he spent the next 27 years at Malvern as a high school teacher. For 15 years he was prefect of studies as well as moderator of the drama club, yearbook, and school paper. In 1959 he became headmaster of the school served in that capacity until 1971. In 1968 Father Gilligan was appointed prior of the Augustinian Community. 

In 1971 he was transferred to Saint Thomas of Villanova Parish, Rosemont, PA, as prior of the Community and associate pastor. Four years later in 1975, he was assigned to Saint Genevieve Parish in Flourtown, PA, as associate pastor. In 1977 he was transferred to Saint Rita Parish, Philadelphia, and two years later he became pastor and prior of Old Saint Augustine Church, Philadelphia. He returned as prior and pastor of Saint Rita in 1981 and remained there until he was transferred to Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Church in Atlantic City, N.J., in 1987. From there he supervised the Province’s summer residence at Ocean City, N.J. 

In 1988, in declining health, he was re-assigned to Old Saint Agustine in Philadelphia, and was residing at Saint Thomas of Villanova Monastery, Villanova, at the time of his death on June 11, 1988, due to heart failure. Father Gilligan was known for his sense of humor and ready wit. His influence on the many young men with whome he came in contact during his years at Malvern cannot be measured.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on June 16, 1988, at the Church of Saint Thomas of Villanova, by the Prior Provincial, Father Joseph A. Duffey, O.S.A. The homilist was Father Joseph Grifferty, a close friend and former member of the Malvern faculty. Father Gilligan is buried in the Augustinian plot at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, PA.