June 20, 2018
He passed away this morning, Wednesday, June 20, in the rectory of Newman Hall / Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley, CA, at the age of 86.
He had been a member of the Paulist community for nearly 60 years and a priest for 53 years.
Fr. George was born on May 15, 1932, a son of Edward Fitzgerald and Mary Blanchette Fitzgerald-Wilder. After his father passed away in 1937, he also was raised by his stepfather, Tracy Preston Wilder.
He grew up in Jaffrey, NH, and earned his bachelors degree from Dartmouth College. After college, he entered flight school and then served for three years in the military. He would later earn masters degrees from St. Paul’s College in Washington, D.C., and Tufts University.
He entered the Paulist novitiate in the fall of 1958. He made his first promises to the community on Sept. 8, 1959, and his final promises on Sept. 8, 1962.
He was ordained a priest by Cardinal Francis Spellman on May 8, 1965, at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City.
From 1965 to 1970, he served as a Catholic campus minister in Boston, notably at Tufts University. That was followed by seven years as director of formation at our seminary, St. Paul’s College in Washington, D.C.
He was an associate editor at Paulist Press from 1978 to 1980, during which time he also served as the Paulist Fathers’ assistant director of novices.
From 1980 to 1986, Fr. George served as pastor of Newman Hall / Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley.
He then became pastor of Old St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, serving there through 1991. During his time in San Francisco, he was a member of the Mayor’s Commission for the Homeless.
In 1992, Fr. George became pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center in Boulder, CO. He served there until he entered senior ministry in 1998.
Fr. George was the author of three books: “Communes: Their Goals, Hopes, Problems” (1971), “A Practical Guide to Preaching” (1980) and “Handbook of the Mass” (1982). For 10 years, he also wrote the weekly column “Ask Me” in The Catholic Voice.
He also was an avid skier. After entering senior ministry, he assisted at three churches in Vail, CO, and Minturn, CO, as a “ski-the-mountain chaplain.” (During his years of senior ministry, he also served in Santa Barbara, CA, Boston and Berkeley, CA.)
In addition to his parents, Fr. George was preceded in death by his brother, Edward.
He his survived by his brother Paulists; his sister, Alice, and brother-in-law, Thomas Murphy, of Delray Beach, FL; and many nieces and nephews.
Fr. George’s wake will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 22, at Newman Hall / Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley, CA. His funeral Mass also will be held there at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 23.
Fr. George will be cremated. His ashes will be interred at a later date in the Paulist plot at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, CA.
Our prayer for Fr. George:
May the angels lead you into paradise,
may the martyrs come to welcome you,
and take you to the holy city,
the new and eternal Jerusalem.