Father Dolan
Father Dolan

Father Gerald Dolan, OFM, 89, a professed Franciscan friar for 68 years and a priest for 63, died on April 21 at Albany Medical Center, where he had been admitted for COVID-19.

Father Dolan was born on May 29, 1930, in Long Island City, to Edward and Mary (née Hanrahan) and was baptized Edward. He attended St. Joseph’s Grammar School in Long Island City and high school at St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon.

On Aug. 12, 1950, Father Dolan was received into the Franciscan Order in Paterson, N.J., and a year later, on Aug. 13, 1951, he professed his first vows. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from St. Bonaventure University and studied theology at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C.
Father Dolan professed his final vows on Aug. 13, 1954, before Father Celsus Wheeler, OFM, at Christ the King Seminary in Allegany. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 11, 1956, by Archbishop Amieto Cicognani, apostolic delegate of the Holy See to the United States, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington.

During his nearly seven decades as a Franciscan, Father Dolan held a variety of pastoral and academic positions. His first assignment after ordination in 1956 was to St. Anthony’s Guild in Paterson, N.J., where he served for two years. He then earned a licentiate in theology from the Pontifical University Antonianum in Rome in 1960. He returned to the Guild for four more years before furthering his studies at the University of Louvain in Belgium in 1964, completing his doctorate in theology in 1971.

While finishing his doctoral thesis, he returned to the United States to begin a long career teaching seminarians. His first assignment was to Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C., where he served as assistant professor of theology from 1968-69. From 1969-86, he taught systematic theology at Christ the King Seminary, first on the campus of St. Bonaventure University and then, after 1974, in East Aurora. While at St. Bonaventure, he served as chairman of the university’s department of theology from 1970-74.

In 1987, Father Dolan was named guardian of the friar community at Siena College in Loudonville. While there, he also served as director of institutional planning, and assistant to the president. In 1991, he was appointed consultant on theological matters to the late James Lyke, OFM, Archbishop of Atlanta. During this time, he was also assigned to Hapeville, Ga., where he served as parochial vicar of St. John the Evangelist Parish.

From 1994-95, he lived in Peachtree City, Ga., serving at Holy Trinity Parish and at the University of Georgia as campus minister. In 1995, Father Dolan moved north, serving at several locations, including St. Anthony Shrine, Boston; Aston, Pa., where he served as chaplain to the Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia; and in Warwick, where he was chaplain at St. Anthony Hospital.

In 2001, he moved to southern New Jersey as director of formation for the permanent diaconate program of the Diocese of Camden. He was assigned first to St. John Neumann Parish in Sicklerville, and then to Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Cape May, serving as an associate. He also served as curator of the Province’s friary in Margate, N.J.

Father Dolan retired in 2009 and was assigned to St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, Fla. In February 2020, he was transferred to Teresian House in Albany.

Father Dolan is survived by a sister-in-law, Maureen Dolan of Garden City and a niece, Allison Keller of Richmond, Va. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at the Siena College friary chapel on April 30, followed by a burial at St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands. Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars – Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd Street, New York, N.Y., 10001-3202.