Love of God motivated missionary brother to be a salesman for Christ

Brother Patrick Hegarty, 1921-2018

Hegarty,_Br_Pat_obit_June_2018Brother Patrick Hegarty SVD, 97, who helped to make Ireland’s The Word one of the country’s most successful magazines, died on May 28.

“Brother Patrick sometimes was a man of few words, but you could read the twinkle in his eyes,” said Divine Word Father Quang Duc Dinh, provincial of the Chicago Province. “His engaging personality and interest in people made him a stellar representative of the Society of the Divine Word and the Catholic faith.”

Born in County Galway, Ireland, in 1921, Pat Hegarty was the eldest of Michael and Margaret (nee Duignan) Hegarty’s six boys.

As a young man, he completed his studies and worked as an apprentice at Thomas Corry & Sons, Ltd., a general store in Kilsallagh, Galway, Ireland. In 1944, he joined the Society of the Divine Word at St. Patrick’s College, Donamon Castle in Roscommon. Three years later, he professed first vows and took the religious name Columba. After the Second Vatican Council when Brothers were given the option to continue using their religious name or return to their baptismal name, he chose to be known again as Patrick.

Brother Patrick worked in Great Britain during the 1950s, at Divine Word College in Rome in the early 1960s, and in the United States thereafter.

For decades, Brother Patrick put his salesmanship skills to work for the Society of the Divine Word. While assigned to Donamon Castle, Ireland’s oldest continuously occupied castle, Brother Patrick traveled the country’s rugged West country and sold Divine Word greeting cards. In part due to his toil, today’s Divine Word Missionaries at Donamon are Ireland’s largest producer of religious greeting cards.

In the 1953, Brother Patrick’s superiors placed him in charge of circulation for their Catholic magazine called The Word. For seven years, he traveled by motorbike and sold the publication in Ireland, England and Scotland. Under Brother Patrick’s care, The Word grew to become Ireland’s leading religious publication.

He then was called to Rome and worked at the Generalate, the world headquarters of the Society of the Divine Word. He served as secretary to the mission secretary at Pontificio Collegio San Pietro Apostolo until being assigned to the United States in 1965.

For 40 years, he traveled the Eastern United States to sell altar wine produced at the congregation’s O-Neh-Da Winery in Conesus, N.Y. Income from that business went to Divine Word Missionaries overseas who desperately needed financial support.

In 2006 at age 85, Brother Patrick moved to Bordentown, N.J., to retire in the fashion that Divine Word Missionaries do—finding other ways to serve their fellow human beings. Fluent in German, Italian and Spanish, he volunteered at the Trenton Diocesan Office for Migrants and Refugees in Perth Ambry, N.J. While there, he helped hundreds of immigrants from South and Central America as they traversed through paperwork and navigated the immigration system.

Brother Patrick had lived at Techny since 2009. His viewing and funeral Mass will take place on Friday, June 1, at the Divine Word Residence chapel at Techny. He will be laid to rest in St. Mary’s Cemetery at Techny, Ill.

His youngest brother William, also a Divine Word Missionary, was sent to Illinois to study for the priesthood. Father Willie Hegarty, who passed away in 2008, worked in urban parishes in Chicago and Indianapolis for 35 years.

In addition to his parents and Father William Hegarty, he was preceded in death by his brothers James, Michael, Thomas and Martin He is survived by nieces, nephews and many Divine Word confreres. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations for the care of elderly and infirmed missionaries may be sent to The Rector, Divine Word Residence, 1901 Waukegan Rd., P.O. Box 6000, Techny, IL 60082-6000.

Return to Main Obituaries page