Hundreds of mourners gathered at St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Allen Park for the funeral of Fr. Stephen Rooney, the ending of a whirlwind story for all who loved the Irish-born Downriver priest.
Fr. Rooney died Aug. 16 in a tragic boating accident on the Detroit River that also claimed the life of parishioner Robert Chiles. Authorities found Fr. Rooney’s body in Lake Erie four days later, bringing some semblance of closure to a community that grew to love the welcoming, warm-hearted pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Trenton. Fr. Rooney was 66.
People gathered at St. Frances Cabrini — chosen for the funeral because of its larger capacity and proximity to St. Joseph — to share their final goodbyes Aug. 26.
“Fr. Rooney and I shared meals many times and were very good friends,” Fr. Marc Gawronski, who is now the temporary administer of St. Joseph Parish, told Detroit Catholic before Mass. “Fr. Rooney liked to entertain, he liked to welcome people. He always made sure things were well prepared, you could tell he planned in advance, preparing everything just for you.”
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