Monsignor Leonard F. Hurley, the Catholic priest who founded Mother Seton Parish in Germantown and for whom Father Hurley Boulevard is named died at the age of 84 on April 27, according to media reports.
Hurley was the founding pastor of Mother Seton Parish back in the mid-1970s when Germantown was still a rural community but many of the farmhouses were being replaced by townhouse communities. He served the parish from 1975 until he was reassigned in 1987.
He started the church in a two-bedroom bungalow home, soon the congregation moved to Germantown Elementary School on Liberty Mill Road, and in 1977 services were held at Seneca Valley High School.
In October 1981, Father Hurley moved into the parish house on what was then Germantown Drive.
Hurley was one of the forces behind the formation of the Germantown Association of Churches which eventually became known as the Germantown Alliance.
In 1987, the County Council approved the name change for the road on which the currently Mother Seton Parish sits from Germantown Drive to Father Hurley Boulevard in his honor.
Before coming to Germantown in 1974, Hurley rose to prominence as the priest who narrated the Requiem Mass from President John F. Kennedy for a worldwide television and radio audience after Kennedy’s assignation in 1963.
According to a 2013 article in the Catholic Standard, a publication of the Archdiocese of Washington, his strong speaking style led to a young Hurley being appointed to direct the Archdiocese of Washington's radio and television efforts from 1963-76. During that time, he hosted local talk shows about religion on Sunday mornings and was the longtime presider of the TV Mass for shut-ins. Over the years, he also narrated the Christmas Midnight Mass from the National Shrine.
In a 1997 interview, the Hurley said, "The whole ceremony was charged with emotion, but I kept mine under control." He added that he was, nonetheless, "feeling every minute of it. I'm not afraid of feeling, never was. If you don't feel what you're saying or singing, it's no good."
His 57 years as a priest included serving as an assistant pastor at several parishes, before later serving as pastor of St. Peter Parish on Capitol Hill, Saints Paul and Augustine in Washington (now known as St. Augustine), at St. Michael Parish in rural Ridge, Md., and St. Ignatius Parish in Fort Washington, Md.
He died on Monday, April 27 while serving as chaplain of the Carroll Manor Nursing home and Rehabilitation Center in Northeast, DC at the age of 84.
According to a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Washington, there are no plans for a public memorial in keeping with Monsignor Hurley’s wishes.
Photo courtesy Archdiocese of Washington.