Father Noonan remembered for pranks, devotion to people of Mississippi

By Maureen Smith
FLOWOOD – On Friday, July 7, Catholics from across the diocese gathered to remember and honor Father Patrick Joseph Noonan at his funeral Mass at St. Paul Parish.

FLOWOOD – St. Paul Parish overflowed with people for the funeral Mass for Father Patrick Noonan on Friday, July 7. Father Noonan died after a very short battle with cancer. On display at the funeral was a just-completed portrait of Father Noonan (inset at left). Artist Craig West painted the image for the Moorehead family, who requested it just a few weeks ago. West worked from photographs, but said he wanted to capture Father Noonan’s familiar expression. (Photo by Maureen Smith)

People sat and stood in every available space of the church, spilling out into the vestibule. Father Noonan died Tuesday, July 4, after a short battle with cancer. He was born in Kilcoora, Broadford, Co. Limerick, Ireland on January 23, 1937, son of the late Michael and Johanna Noonan.
Father Gerry Hurley remembered his friend as a joyful prankster who once got into an informal competition with a fellow Irish pastor for who could appear most in the pages of Mississippi Catholic. Father Hurley also noted that Father Noonan, who took a sabbatical during his ministry, would encourage his brother priests to rest and take care of themselves. The parish hosted a lively reception, something of an Irish wake, immediately following the Mass.
Father Noonan was the fourth of five boys raised on a dairy farm. He attended the local school, Raheenagh National School, after which he went on to St. Munchins College in Limerick. From there, he moved to major seminary at Clonliffe in Dublin, and later transferred to St. Patrick’s Seminary in Thurles where he began to study for what was then the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson.
Father Noonan was ordained on June 9, 1963, at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Thurles Co. Tipperary. He arrived in the diocese on September 4, 1963, and shortly thereafter took up his first assignment at St. James in Mississippi City.
After five years, he moved to Natchez St. Mary, then the cathedral, and became pastor two years later at Chatawa St. Teresa. In April 1972, he became pastor of Greenwood Immaculate Heart of Mary. In June 1978, he became pastor of Jackson St. Mary, and after 10 years of service, he took a sabbatical at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana.
In January 1989, Father Noonan became pastor of Canton Sacred Heart, and two years later added the care of Carthage St. Anne. In 1992, he also added the pastoral care of Canton Holy Child Jesus. In January 2001, he was appointed pastor of Brookhaven St. Francis of Assisi and Sacramental Minister of Meadville St. Ann Mission.
On January 31, 2008, he retired from active ministry, but continued to serve by filling in for brother priests on most weekends. Father Noonan spent 54 years in service of the Catholic Church in Mississippi. He touched the lives of many in every parish in which he served. He is mourned by dear friends throughout the state and beyond. The lilt of Irish laughter, and his wit and humor endeared him to so many. He will be greatly missed in the Magnolia state.
He was preceded in death by his brother, Seamus, and his sisters-in-law, Breda, Mairead and Nora. He is survived by his brothers, David, Michael and Donal, seven nieces, and five nephews, all of whom looked forward to his annual summer vacation in Ireland. He was buried in Ireland.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Our Daily Bread Feeding Ministry, P.O. Box 1021, Canton, MS 39046.