Fr. Jack O’Malley, legendary labor priest, dies at 83

Pittsburgh’s Father Jack O’Malley, one of the great labor priests and a founder of the Catholic Labor Network, has passed away. Please remember him and his family in your prayers. True to form, in his final days he was trying to organize the nurses at his hospital! The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted:

The Rev. John “Jack” O’Malley was known to never back down from what he believed in.

The Roman Catholic priest’s friends and colleagues would describe him as someone who never strayed from his moral values and wasn’t afraid to call out injustice. Throughout his life as a pastor, Father O’Malley often would picket with labor unions, even getting arrested several times while protesting.

Father O’Malley, 83, who died on Friday at a residence in the West End, would refer to these acts of civil disobedience as “divine obedience,” his friends said, recalling one of many arrests during the Grape Boycott in the Strip District in the 1970s protesting workers’ low wages….

Even during a recent hospitalization at UPMC Mercy while dealing with Parkinson’s disease, Father O’Malley tried to organize hospital workers to form a union. The Rev. John Oesterle, a chaplain at UPMC Mercy, said he was visiting Father O’Malley just two weeks ago when Father Oesterle  recalled Father O’Malley asking a nurse who was assisting him if she was in a union…



CLICK HERE for the complete obituary.

3 replies
  1. Mary E Kambic
    Mary E Kambic says:

    I met Fr. Jack in 1967 when I was involved in the antiwar movement. Later, when we were both active in the UFW grape boycott, where we were both arrested for picketing the produce yards and individual grocery stores. He also officiated at our marriage 50 years ago next month and baptized our first two children. When he visited me in the hospital after our first daughter was born, all the women on the floor were lined up at their doors to see the “hunk” who was visiting! He was one of the top people in my life and the finest priest ever. He treated everyone the same and never lost his sense of humor. After we were arrested for the boycott once, the police ripped his sign in half and Fr. Jack carried the half sign on the picket line later saying the police told him he had half a brain, so he was happy with half a sign. In the later years, we would get together at the Catholic Labor meetings in DC. Godspeed! to my Irish soulmate.

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