Oldest priest in Scranton dies on Good Friday at 99


The Diocese of Scranton’s oldest and longest-ordained priest, Monsignor James T. Clarke, died on Good Friday at age 99.

Monsignor Clarke was ministering to others even on his deathbed, said the Rev. Thomas Muldowney, the vicar general/director of clergy personnel of the diocese.

With his health failing, Monsignor Clarke was admitted Wednesday to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, where Father Muldowney visited him in the intensive care unit and said the Commendation of the Dying prayer.

“When I got done, he said, ‘Now, can I pray for you?’ It was one of the most touching moments of my life,” Father Muldowney said. “I think that summarizes his life. He was a very good, holy priest, a man of prayer and a man of service.”

Pastor emeritus of St. Ignatius Church in Kingston, Monsignor Clarke was a resident at St. Therese Residence.

Born in Scranton on Oct. 17, 1913, Monsignor Clarke attended Scranton public schools and St. Thomas College, which is now the University of Scranton.

Ordained on Dec. 8, 1938, Monsignor Clarke served in several churches and positions in Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wayne counties.

Another account notes:

Bishop Emeritus James Timlin said he knew Monsignor since 1939.

“He was a wonderful priest, and as I say, a very bright person, a wonderful conversationalist and wonderful preacher because he has such an intellectual background,” said Bishop Timlin.

His last assignment as pastor was at St. Ignatius in Kingston.

The church’s office manager Mary Lewis said Monsignor Clarke hired her in 1976. She visited with him just days before he passed.

“He held my hand and he said what happy days at St. Ignatius, and that meant so much to me,” said Lewis.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…

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