Even nearly 60 years after the fact, Father Gerard Creedon vividly recalled an incident from his childhood that may have set him on the path to his life’s work.
Creedon – known to nearly all as “Gerry” – was an 8-year-old in early-1950s Ireland when he witnessed an elderly neighbor woman about to be thrown out of her home after her lease ran out. He and those around him looked on as a Roman Catholic priest intervened not only to save the woman’s housing, but, in the process, her dignity as well.
“Isn’t it time we stood up for what is just, to establish for everybody the right to a decent home?” Creedon asked in 2010 after relaying that tale, as he accepted the second annual Ellen Bozman Affordable Housing Award from the Alliance for Housing Solutions.
Father Creedon, whose postings for the church included a long stint at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Arlington, died Nov. 16. He was 73 years old.
Funeral arrangement are pending.
“I am devastated,” U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-11th) said as news of the death spread. “He understood that catholic ministry was inclusive, not judgmental. He succored the poor and downtrodden, and was a pastor to all.”
Creedon attended seminary in Dublin and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Richmond – which then encompassed all of Virginia – in 1968. Among his academic credentials were master’s degrees in theology and social work.
In his early years as a priest, Creedon served at a variety of parish churches in Northern Virginia, and for a time was director of the diocese’s Catholic Charities arm. For four years in the 1990s, he served in a mission church in the Dominican Republic.
In 2010, Creedon was moved by the diocese from St. Charles Borromeo – where he had spent 15 years – to Holy Family Church in Dale City. He was ministering at that parish until his death.
Creedon was active in social-action organizations ranging from Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) to his leadership until his death of the diocesan Peace and Justice Commission.
His stances gained the priest critics as well as supporters, with the former decrying him as a left-leaning “politician-priest” (he was a good friend of the Kennedy family in a diocese whose leadership generally has skewed conservative) and the latter praising his efforts on behalf of those society had left behind, be they the poor, immigrants or those facing physical and mental challenges.
“His is a recognized and trusted voice,” said John Milliken, a former Arlington County Board member, when Creedon received the Bozman Award in 2010. Milliken called Creedon a “community conscience” – describing him as equal parts leader, provocateur and encourager on housing and other issues.
One of 14 children of John and Margaret Creedon, Gerard Creedon was born Feb. 16, 1944, in County Cork, Ireland. Before being called to the priesthood, he earned an undergraduate degree in English and Latin from University College in Dublin, and through is life was a well-received poet.