Death of Father McGuire ends vigil of tri-parish community


CLEMSON — Paulist Father Augustus S. McGuire, 69, died Aug. 27 at St. Andrew Church’s rectory, following a yearlong bout with cancer.

A public viewing took place on Aug. 29 at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Seneca, and the Mass of the Resurrection followed.

The bilingual liturgy was celebrated by Paulist Father Francis DeSiano, president of the Paulist Fathers, with both the word and song being proclaimed in English and Spanish. The homily was given by Paulist Father Sean Foley. He described Father McGuire in the words of many whose lives he touched as “one of the most nonjudgmental priests I have ever known.”

Jane Myers, a member of the pastor’s staff for St. Andrew, St. Francis, and St. Paul parishes, said Father McGuire was deeply loved by the parishioners of the tri-parish community.

“It was very significant to all of us that Father Gus chose to stay in the Paulist house, to stay in our midst to die rather than to return to the Paulist community in New York or to his family in Texas,” said Myers. “It was a testimony of the mutual affection between the community and him. He knew that he would receive a lot of love and attention. Our entire community was keeping vigil together.”

She said parishioners took on three-hour shifts to care for the ailing priest during his last weeks.

Parishioner outreach included the growing Hispanic community in Walhalla. “The celebration of his Mass of the Resurrection was a joyous celebration of Christian hope and a pivotal moment in the history of this growing Upstate community,” Myers said. “Over one-third of the church was filled with the Hispanic families who knew and loved Padre Gus.”

Burial took place on Aug. 31 at the Sparkman-Hillcrest Cemetery in Dallas, Texas.

Father McGuire was born on Jan. 18, 1932, in Nashau, N.H., to John Andrew and Lucy Shea McGuire. He grew up in Lowell, Mass., and attended Dartmouth for two years.

He entered the Paulist Fathers in 1951, professed on Sept. 8, 1952, and was ordained a Paulist priest on May 1, 1959, following the completion of seminary studies at St. Paul’s College in Washington, D.C.

His pastoral assignments included service as associate pastor of St. Austin Church in Austin, Texas; pastor of St. Leo Church in Houston, Texas; 18 years at St. Peter Church in Toronto, Canada; 11 years at Good Shepherd Parish in New York, N.Y., as pastor; and six years as associate pastor at the tri-parish Catholic community of St. Andrew in Clemson, St. Francis in Walhalla, and St. Paul in Seneca.

Father McGuire was awarded two master’s degrees from St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, N.Y.

According to Myers, when Father McGuire was assigned to the Toronto parish and realized he would be ministering to a large Italian community, he traveled to Italy to learn the language, only to return to the parish and be greeted by a parishioner speaking Portuguese. So, he studied and mastered that language as well. He later added Spanish to his multilingual skills.

He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus. During the recent Knights of Columbus international convention in Toronto, Bishop Robert J. Baker visited St. Peter Church as homage to Father McGuire’s service there.

Survivors include his two brothers, John C. McGuire and Robert C. McGuire, both of Dallas; and a sister, Lucy Anne Phillips, also of Dallas.

Father McGuire was preceded in death by his parents.

“He was a great priest, a knowledgeable man, and a true friend to all,” said Jessica L. Byars of Greenville, a former parishioner of Father McGuire’s at St. Andrew’s in Clemson.