- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 25, 2005

John P. McGovern, 79, Catholic priest

John Patrick McGovern, a Roman Catholic priest, died Aug. 16 at Providence Hospital in the District of respiratory failure after a brief illness. He was 79.

Born Nov. 23, 1925, in Providence, R.I., he attended Providence College from 1950 to 1952.

In 1943, he joined the Navy, serving during World War II in the Southwest Pacific Theater as a signalman on LST 917. He was in five major invasions including a battle in Okinawa that involved the greatest number of American casualties in the war. He formed rosary groups that prayed amid the fighting.

After the war, he worked for the New Haven Railroad in Providence.

In 1949, he began studying at the School of St. Philip Neri, a seminary in Haverhill, Mass., for delayed vocations. He entered the Dominican Novitiate in 1952 to prepare for the priesthood in the Order of Preachers (Dominican Fathers).

He was ordained in 1959 at St. Dominic Church in the District by Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle.

During his 46 years in the priesthood, Father McGovern had many assignments within the Eastern Dominican Province of St. Joseph throughout the country, including St. Mary in Johnson City, Tenn., St. Catherine in New York, Holy Name in Philadelphia, St. Gertrude in Cincinnati and River Forest Priory in River Forest, Ill.

From 1962 to 1964, he was a chaplain for the D.C. Department of Corrections, assigned to the D.C. Jail, Lorton Prison and Occoquan Prison, which at the time was the women’s division of Lorton.

Sandy Towson, an employee of the prison system, recalls his tireless service to the prisoners.

“Everyone knew that he was available at any hour of the day or night to help them,” she said. “Many times he met those in trouble in the middle of the night and found shelter for them.”

He was assigned to the Dominican House of Studies in the District in 1981 and remained there until July 2004.

Because of declining health, he was assigned to the Center for Assisted Living at St. Dominic Priory in the District in July 2004. He was living there at the time of his death.

He is survived by his sister, Mary Condry of Wakefield, R.I.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Dominican Center for Assisted Living, 630 E St. SW, Washington, D.C.

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