Obituary: The Rev. Monsignor George David Birge, 87, Fairfield University graduate

The Rev. Monsignor George David Birge

The Rev. Monsignor George David Birge

The Reverend Monsignor George David Birge, 87, was called to eternal rest on January 20, 2015. Monsignor Birge was deeply loved by his family, friends and parishioners, and will be remembered by all as a priest who shepherded his flock, reached out to the lost sheep and found God in all people.

His kindness, compassion and humor will be truly missed. His enduring humility and devotion to his faith and family were unparalleled.

Monsignor Birge was born on March 22, 1927 to the late Marie Graham and Raymond Bernard Birge. Fondly known as “Bo” to his family and friends, he grew up in the Academy Hill neighborhood of Stratford, Connecticut during the Great Depression, and was the fourth of seven children. He served as an altar boy at Saint James Church and attended Center School and Stratford High School, where he was class president, captain of the basketball team and voted “Most Popular” by his classmates.

His mother accepted his diploma at graduation because he enlisted in the Navy during his senior year during World War II. He served in the South Pacific, and told stories about his time in China navigating the Yangtze River on the LST #636 transport boat. While in China, he also consulted with Jesuits he met in Shanghai about becoming a priest.

Upon returning to the States, Monsignor Birge attended Fairfield University and graduated in 1951 as a member of the first graduating class, and was the first alumnus to be ordained a priest. He then attended St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield and Saint Mary Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland and was ordained into the priesthood in 1956. He continued to be a lifelong learner and earned a Masters in Divinity from Yale Divinity School in 1976 as well as certification from the Westchester Institute for Training in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy.

Monsignor Birge devoted his life to caring for people and served the Diocese of Bridgeport in many important positions. He was an inspiring teacher at the former Notre Dame High School for Boys in Bridgeport, Stamford Catholic (now Trinity Catholic) High School, and the former Christ the King Seminary in Fairfield. He was a dedicated parochial vicar at Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish in Fairfield, Saint Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport, Saint Clement Parish in Stamford, and Saint Pius X in Fairfield.

He was a respected Judicial Vicar at the Bridgeport Diocesan Marriage Tribunal. He was a caring and appreciated pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Georgetown, Saint Patrick Church in Redding, Saint Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, and Holy Trinity Church in Sherman. In his retirement, he came full circle to serve as a senior priest in his home church of St. James in Stratford.

Monsignor Birge was a truly beloved and integral part of the lives of a large family.

He is survived by his brother, James Birge and his wife Jane of Stratford, four sisters, Marie Minahan of Stratford, Nancy Goodrich and her husband Robert of Stratford, Jane Greenwood and her husband Richard of Trumbull and Ellen Stadtmueller and her husband John of Stratford as well as his brother priests of the Diocese of Bridgeport, especially his dear friend Monsignor John Hossan. He was predeceased by his parents, brother Robert Birge and his wife Elizabeth, brother-in-law William Minahan, niece Kathy Minahan, as well as his dear friends Monsignors Vincent Cleary, Joseph Fitzgerald, Jean Tetreault and Reverend William Conklin. He had forty-three nieces and nephews, as well as eighty-one great and ten great-great nieces and nephews, who adored him as “Father Bo”.

The family would like to express special appreciation to his niece, Jeanne Massey for her devoted caregiving. Monsignor Birge had a zest for life and in his free time enjoyed playing golf, going on vacation with family and friends, and calligraphing Christian Zen sayings.

His life and memory will be celebrated with a Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday, January 24, 2015 at 10:30 a.m. at Saint James Church, 2070 Main Street, Stratford officiated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport. Interment will be private with full military honors. Visitation will be at Saint James Church on Friday, January 23, 2015 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 pm. with a Vigil Mass celebrated at 7:30 pm. At the request of the family, donations may be made to Saint James Church “Care of Our Father’s House”, 2070 Main Street, Stratford, CT 06615 or The Fairfield University Fund for Financial Aid, 1073 North Benson Road, Fairfield, CT 06428 in memory of Monsignor George D. Birge .

Galello-Lunchansky Funeral Home, 2220 Main Street, Stratford is entrusted with arrangements.

To celebrate a life please visit us at www.galellofuneralhome.com.

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