Fr. Paul Gerard Driscoll: April 18, 1938 – Jan. 14, 2022
Where does one begin to explain the importance of the life of a true son of the church, whose love of the Eucharist, Our Lady, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium define his existence?
I first met Fr. Driscoll when, as an associate priest at the parish of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Centerport, he was conducting a meeting at the home of Gerard Crosson, whose son continues his family’s pro-life legacy at the LI Coalition for Life. Father was informing us of the efforts of a small, financially motivated lobby exerting influence on the NY State legislature to change the 1880’s protective abortion law to an unprecedented 6-month law, which far surpasses the abortion limits in Europe today. Despite visits to Albany and heroic efforts at many of our churches, June 1970 saw the devastating NY State abortion law promoting the killing of our unborn brothers and sisters up until the sixth month of pregnancy. Thus, NY became the abortion capital of the world.
Bishop Kellenberg, seeing the need for genuine knowledge and leadership, appointed
Fr. Driscoll as the first full-time priest to coordinate pro-life activities in our diocese. No other diocese in the nation had our Bishop’s enthusiasm. His new assignment brought him to many parishes, teaching, organizing and praying for the protection of our babies, the sanctity of our families, and the establishment of critical care for mothers in need.
Although this is a daunting job in itself, Father had time to write five books, debate pro-abortion advocates, promote approved Marian apparitions – especially Fatima – and collaborate on an audio of miraculous healings from Lourdes. This was done with Brian Dennehy, a fellow alumnus from Chaminade.
One of Father’s many interests was American Musical theatre. Like his beloved G.K. Chesterton, he had a comment for everything, a quality that caused him to adapt more than one Fr. Brown Mystery to the stage, which tickled audiences from Molloy to Centereach.
Fr. Driscoll considered swimming as his first hobby, having won the Harris Cup (the highest athletic award) while at Catholic University, and he continued to swim every day until his first heart event in 2000. Despite this, some may say that his likeness to Father Brown was uncanny. Chesterton described Fr. Brown as “shabby and shapeless [in appearance], his face round and expressionless, his manner clumsy.” Even so, no one will forget the audience response as Fr. Driscoll played Father Brown so well.
Father’s fascination with the theatre gave way to numerous “walk on” roles on Broadway, the Paper Mill Playhouse, The Manhattan City Center, and the York and St. James theatres.