Father George Patrick Monaghan, pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Rockwall and a priest of the Diocese of Dallas for 40 years, died on May 18 of an apparent heart attack, two days after his 67th birthday, his family said.
Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 24 at Sparkman Richardson Funeral Home, 1029 S. Greenville Avenue, Richardson, TX, 75081. Visitation also is scheduled for Sunday, May 24 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, 1305 Damascus Road, Rockwall, TX, 75087, with a vigil to follow at 7 p.m. The funeral Mass will be on Monday, May 25 at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, followed by graveside services at 1 p.m. at Restland Cemetery, 13005 Greenville Avenue, Dallas, TX, 75243.
Father Monaghan was born May 16, 1953, in Battle Creek, Michigan, to George William Monaghan and Elizabeth Frances (Blatchford) Monaghan. He was the oldest of six children.
He attended first through eighth grade at St. Joseph Catholic School in Battle Creek, Michigan, from 1959-1967, and a portion of his ninth grade at Lakeview High School in Battle Creek before the family moved to Richardson in the spring of 1968 for the older George Monaghan to work as an insurance executive.The family moved to temporary quarters near St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church and the soon the family became an integral part of the growing church and school community.
It was at St. Paul the Apostle where, family members said, a seed for a priestly vocation and working with Catholic youth was planted in a teenage George Monaghan. While his siblings attended the Catholic school for a time before moving on to public school, George Monaghan went on to Richardson West Junior High School and then to Richardson High School, where he graduated in 1971.
He then enrolled at Eastfield Community College before transferring and graduating from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1974, initially intending to launch into an engineering career. The priestly call was much stronger and he entered Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving later that fall, receiving a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1978. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Thomas Tschoepe on April 26, 1980, at All Saint Catholic Church in North Dallas.
Father Monaghan’s early priestly assignments took him through various parts of the diocese when it included communities now in the Diocese of Tyler. He served as an assistant pastor at St. Luke Catholic Church in Irving; as chaplain for Bishop Lynch High School and for the Federal Correctional Institution in Texarkana and as a fill-in pastor at St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Athens.
He also served as parochial vicar at St. Monica Catholic Church, Holy Family of Nazareth Catholic Church in Irving and St. Jude Catholic Church in Allen In 1990, he began his 30-year tenure as pastor of various parishes, including Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Corsicana,; St. Patrick Catholic Church in Denison, and St. Joseph Catholic Church in Commerce. In 2010 he was assigned to Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Rockwall.
Msgr. Leon Duesman, who served as a priest for the diocese for 50 years before his retirement, remembers his own time as the parochial vicar at St. Paul the Apostle when he first encountered the Monaghan family. He said the young high school student quickly got involved assisting with youth activities at the parish, but also became a lifeguard and lifeguard manager. As a young priest, Father Monaghan also assisted Msgr. Duesman with youth activities at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in Plano and Mary Immaculate Catholic parish in Farmers Branch.
As a young priest, Father Monaghan also was assigned twice to Holy Family Catholic Church in Irving and was instrumental in the transition when the parish was building and moving into a new church, said Msgr. Jerry Duesman, the longtime pastor of the Irving parish who retired in 2012.
“He was very committed to the young people with a very strong sense of mission,” Msgr. Jerry Duesman said.
Father Monaghan’s youngest brother John recalled his brother as “a rule follower,” committed to Christ, but who also had a dry sense of humor.
His sister, Joan Lomax, recalled the days at St. Paul the Apostle where the family would spend most of their Sunday. She said as a priest, his brother had a tough role as a son, brother, uncle and shepherd to his church communities and she recalled that he presided over numerous baptisms and weddings for his siblings and nieces and nephews, a precious gift to the family.
“I always saw him taking care of his parishes and saw him in those roles, but for me, he was my big brother,” she said. “He absolutely loved being a priest. He loved what he did even though sometimes it was not easy, it was what he loved, his servitude and actually being in the parishes and interacting with everyone and getting to know them.”
She said that because of the COVID-19 and shelter in place orders, the close family had been unable to get together as often as before, but that she spoke with him on his birthday, on Saturday, May 16.
“We ended with, ‘I love you,’ ” she said. “With our faith, we know he’s been called home and that for whatever reason God needs him with Him, not here. His job here is done and we have no doubt that he is in a much better place.”
Father Monaghan was preceded in death by his father. He is survived by his mother, Elizabeth “Betty” Monaghan; sister, Joan Lomax; and four brothers, Robert Monaghan, Patrick Monaghan, Timothy Monaghan and John Monaghan; and five nieces and five nephews, and six great-nieces and two great-nephews.