Monsignor Robert J. McCarthy Dies At 99

Monsignor Robert J. McCarthy Dies At 99

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Monsignor Robert J. McCarthy, a colorful and well-known Catholic priest in northern New York, died Saturday morning.

He was 99, according to Father Arthur LaBaff, Dean of Jefferson County for the Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg.

Monsignor McCarthy - known throughout the north country as "Father Mac" - died at the Sisters of St. Joseph motherhouse in Watertown, where he had lived for the last several years.

"Monsignor McCarthy was the oldest priest in the Diocese. He had served in a number of positions," Father LaBaff told 7 News Saturday. "He was certainly well-known to the people of Watertown and the surrounding community. May he rest in peace."

Monsignor McCarthy's funeral will be at noon Thursday at Holy Family Church in Watertown, where McCarthy was pastor emeritus.

Reverend Joseph Morgan, Vicar General of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, will be the principal celebrant, with priests of the Diocese concelebrating.

Father Stephen Murray, pastor of Holy Family Church, will preach.

Monsignor McCarthy's body will be received with prayers at the church at 7 PM Wednesday, with calling hours at the church until 9 PM, and then calling hours will be held again at the church Thursday morning from 9 AM to 11:30 AM.

Father McCarthy was perhaps best known as the "Carney Priest," for his ministering to people who work on carnivals and fairs. He frequently traveled to perform weddings, baptisms and funerals for carnival workers.

"They're poor guys, they don't have any connection at all with the public, they just work so I was the really the first one to ever get to know them and speak with them," McCarthy said in a 2016 interview with 7 News.

He also served as chaplin of the Watertown fire department for decades. An annual day at the Jefferson County fair sponsored by Watertown city firefighters for children from the Disabled Persons Action Organization is named for Monsignor McCarthy.

Monsignor McCarthy was also a fixture on local radio for years with a program of inspirational messages named after the Gospel song "Turn Your Radio On." 

Monsignor McCarthy celebrated his 70th year as a priest in 2016.

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