Father Michael Cormack, a beloved priest of the Diocese of Sacramento for more than 53 years, died on March 2 at Mercy McMahon Terrace in Sacramento, where he resided for the past few years. He was 95.
Bishop Jaime Soto will preside at a funeral Mass for Father Cormack on Tuesday, March 21 at 10:30 a.m. in St. Rose of Lima Church, 615 Vine Ave in Roseville. A reception will follow in the parish hall. The rite of committal service will be held that day at 2 p.m. at Calvary Catholic Cemetery at 7101 Verner Ave. in Citrus Heights.
A visitation/vigil will be held on Monday, March 20 in St. Rose of Lima Church. The viewing will begin at 5 p.m. followed by the vigil at 6 p.m.
Father Cormack, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish from August 1980 to April 1993, retired on April 30, 1993 and was named pastor emeritus of St. Rose of Lima Parish.
Prior to serving at St. Rose of Lima, he was pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Walnut Grove from April 1970 to August 1980. He served as assistant pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Sacramento from October 1953 to October 1963.
Following his retirement, he served as parochial administrator pro tem of Sacred Heart Parish in Red Bluff from September 1993 to May 1995; of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Vallejo in May-June 1995; of Good Shepherd Parish in Elk Grove from May 1995 to June 1996; and of St. Joseph Parish in Auburn for five months during 1997.
He also served the diocese in various other roles, including as a member of the College of Consultors; Vicar for Priests, Diocesan Finance Council, Dean of the Northern Suburbs Deanery; Vicar for Deacons; and the Priests’ Personnel Board. He served as a chaplain to Mercy General Hospital from 1963 to 1970 and also served as a judge at the Tribunal.
Born in the family home in Dallyerk, Moyne, Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland, Father Cormack was the third of six children born to William Cormack and Sarah Kennedy. He grew up on the family farm in the countryside of Moyne.
Father Cormack began studies at St. Patrick Seminary in Thurles after completing high school. In his second year of philosophy, he chose to become a priest for the Diocese of Sacramento. For the next six years, he studied at St. Patrick Seminary and was ordained on June 15, 1953 in the Cathedral of Thurles by Archbishop Jeremiah Kinane of Cashel.
During his tenure as pastor in Roseville, parishioners built a new parish center that was dedicated by Bishop Francis A. Quinn in 1982. In later years, Father Cormack, along with parishioners, Dr. Tom Stanko and Bill Boudier, founded a St. Vincent de Paul parish conference based in Boudier’s garage. With donations from Bill and Anne Boudier, a building was purchased on Vernon Street, where meals were served on a daily basis to homeless people. From this humble beginning, a variety of other social services were begun to help the homeless and needy of the community. Another winter, he opened the parish hall to shelter the homeless, despite opposition from some members of the Roseville City Council.
Father Cormack said later that the work of the social Gospel was the highlight of his priestly ministry in Roseville and it bought together members of different churches working on this common concern.
In his retirement, Father Cormack lived at Del Webb Sun City in Roseville for several years and continued to assist with Mass at St. Rose of Lima Parish until 2012. After the diocese built the Priests’ Retirement Village in Citrus Heights, he was one of the first three priests to move in when it opened in 2005.
Some information for this story was taken from a biography written by Father John Boll.