Msgr. Thomas E. Gilleece, pastor of St. John and St. Mary parish in Chappaqua and former chancellor of the archdiocese, died June 15 at White Plains Hospital. He was 76.
Msgr. Gilleece served at St. John and St. Mary, 2007-2018, and was chancellor of the archdiocese, 2001-2007. He was pastor of St. Paul, Congers, 1990-2001.
Msgr. Gilleece taught at Cardinal Spellman High School, the Bronx, 1970-1978, and served as associate secretary for education in the archdiocese, 1978-1990.
Cardinal Dolan will offer the Funeral Mass at St. John and St. Mary Church, 15 St. John Place, Chappaqua, Friday, June 22, at 10 a.m. Msgr. Gilleece’s cousin, Father Hugh Murphy, pastor of Our Lady of the Lake parish in Mount Arlington, N.J., Diocese of Paterson, will deliver the homily.
The Mass of the Holy Eucharist will be offered at St. John and St. Mary, Thursday, June 21, at 7:30 p.m. Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Walsh, vicar for clergy, will be the celebrant. Msgr. Thomas Kelly, pastor of St. Augustine parish in Larchmont, will deliver the homily.
A wake service will be held at St. John and St. Mary from 2 to 6 p.m. June 21.
“He was totally committed to everything he entered into, leading off with his priesthood,” Father Murphy said. “He was very dedicated to the priesthood and his parish. He was very warm-hearted, bright and intelligent.
“He was raised in a family of deep faith. They had a very strong and joyful strength of faith.”
Msgr. Kelly and Msgr. Gilleece first met almost 60 years ago as students at Cathedral College. Msgr. Kelly said Msgr. Gilleece officiated weddings of former students and baptisms of the children of his former students.
“Tom served the people of the archdiocese as a high school teacher, parish priest, education administrator and chancellor. He served the archdiocese and the people in many different capacities and served in each one very well with a personable touch and a sense you were listened to and respected,” Msgr. Kelly said.
Msgr. Gilleece loved to tell stories in his homilies, and the two of them mutually researched stories they shared in their Sunday homilies, Msgr. Kelly said.
“He did it with his sense of humor, his teaching ability and his down-to-earth wisdom,” Msgr. Kelly said of Msgr. Gilleece’s ability to weave stories into his homilies.
Born in the Bronx, he attended Our Lady of Mercy School and Cardinal Hayes High School. He completed his studies for the priesthood at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, and received a master’s degree from Fordham University.
He was ordained by Cardinal Francis Spellman in 1967 and served as parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception, Manhattan, 1967-1970.
He was named a monsignor in 1995 and was selected for a five-year term in the College of Consultors in 2005.
His sisters, Winnie Jaeger and Eileen Prisinzano, and his brothers James and Kevin, survive him. His sister, Patricia Myron, and his brother, Father Michael Gilleece, predeceased him.
Burial will follow the Funeral Mass at Gethsemane Cemetery, Congers.