A funeral Mass is being offered April 24 at St. Luke's Church, Schenectady, for Rev. Charles A. Gaffigan, who died April 19. He was 79 and a priest of the Albany Diocese for almost 53 years.

Born in Hudson, he taught at McCloskey High School in Albany and served as associate pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Schenectady, St. James in Albany, St. Michael's in South Glens Falls, St. Joseph's in Broadalbin and Annunciation in Ilion.

He was pastor at Most Precious Blood in South Kortright, St. Mary's in Glens Falls and Sacred Heart in Philmont, then at Holy Infancy in Lake Luzerne and Immaculate Conception in Corinth, which merged to become Holy Mother and Child parish.

After retiring in 2011, he offered his priestly service throughout the Albany Diocese, including at St. Adalbert's parish in Schenectady. To that parish and to Johnstown and Gloversville, he brought a passion for evangelization: He went door-to-door, inviting people to church.

"Every weekend is a homecoming," he told The Evangelist about that mission in 2013. "We don't want to be pests, but [parishioners should] pray every day, and the Spirit will inspire you to find the right words to invite them. If you don't sow anything, nothing comes up."

And so, he would canvass neighborhoods, asking residents if they were baptized Catholics, if they attended church and if they had good reasons for not attending. He handed out bulletins and left business cards, often receiving calls later from interested residents.

"My whole purpose is to let people know the Church is interested in them," he said. "If one family goes back, that's enough."

Ironically, since he fought cancer three times, Father Gaffigan often quoted Mark 2:17: "Jesus heard them and answered, 'People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick.'"

"If [evangelization] is His priority, why should it not be my priority?" the priest would say. "We go because it's the mission of Jesus to reach out."

He also touted the joys of priesthood: "The priesthood has given me the opportunity to share my God-given gifts in the service of others, which I find very fulfilling."

Father Gaffigan spent his vacations serving as a chaplain on cruise ships. As recently as November, he was doing radio appearances on WOPG, the Diocese's Catholic radio station, talking about prayer.

Now, the work that gave him such joy has given way to the joys of heaven. May he rest in the peace of God after his devoted service.

Survivors include four siblings: Sister Anne, CSJ, of Latham; John of Schenectady; Rev. William of Hagaman; and Joseph of Broomfield, Colo.

Interment will be in Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery, Niskayuna.