Funeral Mass will be celebrated April 30, 10:30 a.m. at Santa Clara Church, Oxnard, for Msgr. Charles F. O’Gorman, senior priest and former pastor, who died April 23 at St. Joseph Health and Retirement Center in Ojai.A native of County Cavan, Ireland, Msgr. O’Gorman served 63 years in the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, including 20 years as a military chaplain (1957-77). He then served most of the last 34 years at Santa Clara Church and its parochial mission, Santa Clara Chapel, including 13 years as a “retired” priest.
Until recently, in fact, he heard confessions every Saturday at the chapel, presided twice a week at its 8 a.m. Mass (and regularly on Sundays), and spent most days at the chapel until 5 p.m. “I provide a presence here,” he told The Tidings in an Oct. 24, 2008 article on Ventura County priests who serve well past retirement age.
Msgr. Jon Majarucon, Santa Clara’s current pastor who was 16 years old and a junior at Santa Clara High School when he first met Msgr. O’Gorman, called his predecessor “a source of great stability, encouragement and support, well-loved and so respectful of the pastors that have succeeded him,” and said the senior priest’s willingness to celebrate liturgies at the last minute when an emergency arose was “a blessing.”
Charles Francis O’Gorman was born Jan. 27, 1925 in Corgarive Ballyhaise, Ireland, and was ordained from All Hallows College in Dublin on June 20, 1949, for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. His first assignment was as associate pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Tujunga, followed by similar assignments at St. Lucy (Long Beach) and St. Bede (La Canada), before becoming a military chaplain, earning a Bronze Star medal for his meritorious service with Marine air units in Vietnam, where he served from 1967-69.
After a study assignment in Rome in 1977, he was named administrator of Santa Clara in January 1978 and became pastor a year later, serving until 1990. He also served as dean of Deanery 3 and on the Archdiocesan Priests Personnel Board.
Upon retirement, he became senior priest at Santa Clara, but also served as administrator at neighboring St. Anthony Church in 1995, and for a year as financial administrator of St. Peter Claver, Simi Valley, before settling into fulltime ministry at Santa Clara Church downtown and Santa Clara Chapel in Oxnard’s northeast sector known as El Rio.
“I go where I am assigned,” the priest often referred to as “Msgr. Charlie” said of serving at the chapel. “I am just helping; it fills a need. It’s something worthwhile, just as it has been for my whole priestly life — to meet people’s spiritual needs. And I also find it rewarding spiritually myself. I find fulfillment in baptisms and confessions.”
A rosary will be celebrated April 29, 7:30 p.m. at Santa Clara Chapel.
Fr. Donald Potthoff, founding pastor of St. Denis, dies
Funeral arrangements were pending at press time for Father Donald William Potthoff, 90, who died April 22. Father Potthoff was the beloved founding pastor and pastor emeritus of St. Denis in Diamond Bar, overseeing the construction of the new church dedicated in 1990.
A Los Angeles native, he entered Los Angeles College junior seminary after graduating from Washington High School. He completed his studies at St. John’s Seminary and was ordained on May 7, 1949.
Father Potthoff served as associate pastor at St. Catherine of Siena Church, Reseda, and at Visitation, All Saints and St. Gerard Majella parishes, Los Angeles. He was Newman chaplain at Cal State Los Angeles for four years before his appointment as the first pastor of St. Denis in 1971.
Father Potthoff celebrated Mass at St. Denis in a temporary worship space for nearly 20 years until the new church was built and formally dedicated by Archbishop Roger Mahony in April 1990. The long-awaited church --- reflecting Mediterranean, colonial, and mission-style designs --- was a source of pride for its parishioners and pastor.