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Diocese of Rockville Centre

Obituary Msgr. William F. Costello Print E-mail

Rockville Centre, New York, July 20, 2006 – Msgr. William Costello, a faithful priest who served for more than 54 years, died suddenly on July 18.

“Msgr. Costello was one of the most beloved priests in the Diocese,” said Bishop William Murphy, bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. “Whenever he returned to visit a parish where he had served - no matter how long ago that might have been - he was greeted with love and enthusiasm by one and all who knew him. For me personally this is a great loss. Msgr. Costello was a mentor and a friend. He gave me good counsel both on a one-to-one basis and was a valued member and admired brother on the Priests' Senate. He had a great deal of common sense and a precious gift of gentle humor. He was a priest to the core of his being and a model for many younger priests. I loved him and will miss him. May God grant him the reward of a priestly life deeply lived as a witness and imitator of Jesus the High Priest.”

Born on August 7, 1926 in Bay Shore, N.Y. to the late William F. Costello Sr. and Beatrice Clarke, Msgr. Costello was a graduate of Seton Hall High School in Patchogue, N.Y. and Cathedral College in Brooklyn. He attended the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception and was ordained a priest June 7, 1952 in Brooklyn by Archbishop Thomas E. Molloy.

“He was a priest’s priest. He loved being around priests,” said Father Paul Rahilly, pastor of St. Joachim parish, Cedarhurst, N.Y. Father Rahilly, a close personal friend who would speak sometimes daily with Msgr. Costello said he had a good sense of humor and never stopped moving. “He would take long walks following dinner and would pray the rosary during those walks,” said Father Rahilly.

“To us, Msgr. Costello was truly the Cure of Ars - the patron saint of priests,” said Msgr. John Gilmartin, pastor at St. Anne parish in Garden City, N.Y., where Msgr. Costello had resided as a retired priest from June 24, 1998. “He loved his fellow priests and offered us the greatest example of faithful ministry. He was a friend, a companion and a great priest. I loved him and will miss him deeply.”

Monsignor Costello was a faith-filled priest who inspired many with his Irish
wit and wisdom. His first assignment was at Saint Joseph's Church in Garden City. He then
served in Saint Mary's Church in Manhasset and Saint Catherine of Sienna in
Franklin Square. Msgr. Costello was then appointed the Pastor of Cure of Ars
Church in Merrick. During the years of his ministry, he also served as pastor
of Saint Thomas the Apostle Church in West Hempstead, Our Lady of the Miraculous
Medal in Point Lookout and Saint Catherine of Sienna in Franklin Square. Msgr.
Costello was called upon to serve as temporary administrator of several
parishes, including Our Lady of Fatima in Manorhaven and Maria Regina Church in
Seaford. Wherever there was a need in our diocese, Msgr. always answered, "Yes."

Msgr. Costello served in several leadership roles in the diocese, including the
Priest Senate, the Board of Consultors, the Priest Personnel Board and several
terms as a Dean. He served on the Board of Catholic Charities and the Board of
Little Flower Childrens' Services in Wading River, all of which showed his
willingness to be of service to the diocese, its priests and its people.

“His smile said ‘you and I belong to a Faith family and I’m interested in how you are doing,’” said Msgr. Emmet Fagan.

Upon his “retirement,” Msgr. Costello resided at Saint Anne's Church in Garden
City for the past eight years. He remained active in ministry, celebrating the
sacraments and offering his priestly presence to the parishioners of Saint
Anne's. His kindness, compassion and forgiving nature were a gift to all who were
blessed by his ministry.

He is the dear brother of Alice Costello, James Costello (deceased) and his wife Rose, and Maureen Schuller (deceased); loving uncle of Kevin, James and Alex, William and Giselle, Michael and Maria Costello, Megan and Jeffrey Bernstein and Sarah Schuller; cherished granduncle of Ryan, Spencer, Jacqueline, Christina, Michael, Mycaela, Aiden, Reilly and
many family and friends.

Funeral Arrangements

A wake for Msgr. Costello will be held Thursday, July 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. and Friday,
July 21 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Church of Saint Anne, 35 Dartmouth Street, Garden City, N.Y.

The Mass of Transferal will be held Friday, July 21 at 8 p.m. at the Church of Saint Anne. Msgr. John Gilmartin, pastor, St. Anne parish, will be the principal celebrant. Msgr. Emmet Fagan will be the homilist.

The Funeral Mass will be held Saturday, July 22 at 11 a.m. at the Church of Saint Anne. Bishop John C. Dunne, Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Rockville Centre, will be the principal celebrant. Father Paul Rahilly, pastor, St. Joachim parish, Cedarhurst, will be the homilist.

Msgr. Costello will be buried at St. Patrick Cemetery in Bay Shore.

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About The Diocese of Rockville Centre
The Diocese of Rockville Centre was formed in 1957 and covers 1,222 square miles in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The diocese serves approximately 1.4 million Catholics (total population in both counties is approximately 3.3 million). There are 134 parishes in 115 towns. Last year over 20,000 baptisms, 18,000 confirmations, 20,000 first communions and 5,000 marriages took place in the diocese. There are 2,137 students in Catholic kindergarten, 23,825 in primary or elementary school, 12,628 in secondary school and 3,300 in higher institutions. There are 76 Catholic elementary and high schools and one Catholic college in the diocese. Catholic Health Services of Long Island consists of five hospitals, three nursing homes, two home-care agencies, two senior housing complexes, a community-based home for those with special needs and a hospice. Last year, Catholic Charities assisted more than 68,000 individuals who are poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged on Long Island. For more information, visit

For more information:
Sean P. Dolan
516-678-5800, ext. 625