A funeral Mass was offered April 23 at Sacred Heart Church, Albany, for Rev. John Rooney, who died April 20. He was 84 and had been a priest of the Albany Diocese for nearly 54 years.

A native of Albany, he worked for Niagara Mohawk for five years before entering religious life. His early assignments were at St. Paul's parish in Troy, St. Mary's in Albany, Our Lady of the Assumption in Latham and St. Mary's in Troy. He taught at Mercy High in Albany and Catholic Central High in Troy, directed CYO programs and was a hospital chaplain.

He spent 25 years as pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Albany, during which he also served as canonical moderator for the Albany Center City Cluster parishes, and six years as pastor of Sacred Heart of Mary in Watervliet. He retired in 2004.

"Service with a smile" could have been Father Rooney's motto. In a 2002 interview, he humbly termed his priesthood "a gift" and said his "daily prayer" was "thanksgiving that God has given me this great gift. I would do it all over again. I don't regret a day of it."

Having lived through a great deal of change in parish life in the Albany Diocese, Father Rooney once mused on moving through grief: "You have to go through the grieving process; and as we do, a new life will emerge. It's a parish of the future. There's a tremendous opportunity for a lot of creative, innovative work. It's sad, in a sense, but you can be glad for this new model."

Having welcomed change himself, Father Rooney is surely being welcomed into the new life he was promised in the heavenly kingdom.

Interment was in St. Agnes Cemetery, Menands.