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Priest inspired others during cancer fight

The Rev. Gerard E. Powers, 58, died Tuesday night. But he fought his illness with grace.

By MATTHEW WAITE

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 19, 2001


NEW PORT RICHEY -- The Rev. Gerard E. Powers, the smiling, compassionate clergyman who used his command of language to deliver simple and direct teachings at Our Lady Queen of Peace, died Tuesday night. He was 58.

Powers had served at the Catholic church since 1993 and had been undergoing cancer treatments for nine months. To Monsignor Brenden Muldoon, the vicar general with the Diocese of St. Petersburg, the patience and grace with which Powers dealt with his illness was an inspiration. Muldoon said he knew his friend was suffering, but Powers smiled his memorable smile, never complained and kept his faith strong.

"The Diocese (of St. Petersburg) is going to miss him greatly, as well as Our Lady Queen of Peace," Muldoon said.

Powers was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and began his pastoral ministry on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

He served at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Spring Hill in 1989, and later at St. Cecelia in Clearwater.

Events planned for the weekend at Our Lady Queen of Peace were canceled Wednesday in Powers' honor.

One of Powers' parishioners, Peter Lopaska, said the reverend was a jovial and simple man who was involved in several Knights of Columbus groups in the area, including one with Lopaska. Lopaska said he had known Powers since he first came to Our Lady Queen of Peace. "As a confessor, he was a very kind and compassionate man," Lopaska said. "We were on a first-name basis. I will miss" him. Funeral services were pending Wednesday.

Powers is survived by two brothers, a sister, 13 nieces and nephews, and 21 great-nieces and nephews.

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