Father Kevin J. O’Reilly, who served as academic dean and professor of dogmatic theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, died suddenly Feb. 1. He was 51.
He was named professor of dogma and academic dean for the seminary in 2006, having served as professor of dogmatic theology there since 2004. He also taught in the Religious Studies program.
He was a parochial vicar at Our Lady of Angels parish, the Bronx, 1996-1999, until beginning graduate studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he earned a doctorate in dogmatic theology. He also served as a weekend assistant at several parishes.
Cardinal Dolan presided at the Funeral Mass Feb. 6 at St. Margaret of Cortona Church, the Bronx. Father Daniel P. O’Reilly, brother of Father O’Reilly and pastor of Corpus Christi parish in Manhattan, served as principal celebrant and homilist.
Also presiding were Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop James Massa, rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary; Rockville Centre Auxiliary Bishop Richard Henning; Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Gerald Walsh; Auxiliary Bishop Peter Byrne and Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen.
Bishop Massa, in a phone interview with CNY Feb. 9, described the disposition at the seminary since Father O’Reilly’s passing. “I would say we move between two poles, as people often do after a great loss: between grief and gratitude. There’s still a heaviness.”
A vigil candle burns next to Father O’Reilly’s class picture that hangs on a wall of the first floor of the seminary.
Gratitude is paramount “for all that he did as academic dean, as professor, as faculty adviser, as thesis director,” the bishop said. Many of the students, lay and seminarians and permanent deacon candidates, were writing master’s theses under his tutelage.
“He was involved not only in the teaching of the seminarians, as well as the advisement—giving them feedback on their progress toward ordination.”
“He did so much,” Bishop Massa said, adding Father O’Reilly made himself available in numerous parishes to celebrate Sunday Mass. “He was just somebody with indefatigable energy…He had decades more to give. That’s the sorrow that we hold in our hearts.”
The rector also remembered Father O’Reilly as an exemplary homilist at Mass. He recalled his humor, always quick with a pun or a funny story.
“His lectures, which were brilliant, in very difficult areas of theology, were always peppered with really funny, hilarious jokes,” Bishop Massa said.
Born in Manhattan, he grew up in the Bronx and attended St. Margaret of Cortona School, the Bronx, and Regis High School in Manhattan. He studied for the priesthood at St. Joseph’s Seminary and was ordained in 1996.
He also earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Columbia University.
In addition to Father Daniel O’Reilly, survivors include his parents, Kevin and Loretta O’Reilly; two other brothers, Timothy and Sean; two sisters, Kathleen O’Reilly and Mary Pat Adamson; six nephews and two nieces.
He was preceded in death by an uncle, Father William M. Creaven.
Interment was at St. John Cemetery in Middle Village, Queens.