As a friend tells it, the Rev. Michael J. Hogan would take July off to “recharge the batteries.” That — and an unquenchable desire to help people — is how he was able to do all that he did the other 11 months of the year, year after year.
“He was constantly on the go,” said Roy Bordeaux of Schenectady, a personal friend who served as church organist under Hogan at his previous post as pastor of Sacred Heart/St. Columba Church. “He gave everything to people around him. He lived to do what he did.”
Hogan, pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Schenectady and St. Margaret of Cortona Church in Rotterdam Junction, and an indefatigable community leader and educator, died Wednesday night after battling cancer. He was 74.
His career in the priesthood spanned more than 49 years, all in the Capital Region. At various points he served as pastor at Sacred Heart/St. Columba Church as well as St. John the Baptist, both in Schenectady. The Glens Falls native began his career in June 1965 at St. Gabriel Church in Rotterdam.
Up until his death, Hogan was involved in numerous civic and educational initiatives.
“He did a lot for the community and a lot for our church,” said Donald Penta of Schenectady, a sacristan at St. Joseph’s. “He will be tough to replace.”
In addition to his pastoral duties, Hogan was involved in many community groups in the Capital Region, including founding and serving as director of Hospitality House in Albany.
He also had stints teaching theology at Catholic Central and Bishop Maginn high schools, Maria College and The College of Saint Rose. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany listed him as a chaplain at Bishop Maginn since 1981. Hogan also hosted a weekly show on Schenectady public access television.
“He never went for the headlines,” said Rev. Phillip N. Grigsby, executive director of the Schenectady Inner City Ministry. “But when you look at all he was involved in, it was remarkable.”
The pastor was universally hailed for his work in the Schenectady area over the years.
“It’s such a huge loss for our community,” said Debra Schimpf, executive director of Schenectady Community Action Program (SCAP). Hogan sat on SCAP’s board the past decade, and for the past four years served as its president. He also served with numerous other groups.
“He just had a way of understanding what he was meant to do,” Schimpf said. “He was meant to give. He saw his life and role as giving to others.”
Hogan’s involvement with the New Choices Recovery Center in Schenectady dates to the 1990s. After a brief hiatus, he returned a few years ago as board president. Executive Director Stuart Rosenblatt said Hogan’s ties to a host of nonprofits, in addition to his depth of dealings with people in need, proved invaluable.
“By virtue of his experience serving on boards he was very familiar with the roles and responsibilities of board members, particularly as it relates to management,” Rosenblatt said. “Plus he was so immersed in the community.”
Grigsby agreed: “On one hand he could be very adamant about what he cared about. But he was not intractable. He liked to work by consensus.”
Retired Albany Diocese Bishop Howard J. Hubbard was a year ahead of Hogan at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers in the 1960s and knew him throughout his priesthood.
“His whole life was committed to the poor, the forgotten — those left behind,” said Hubbard, noting Hogan made extraordinary efforts to help the homeless and troubled youths.
“He was one of the finest priests I have ever known,” Hubbard added.
Schimpf said Hogan was very private about his illness and would often redirect conversation away from his condition to what he could do to help them.
“He didn’t complain about his health. He wanted to remain relevant to the very end,” Schimpf said.
Rosenblatt said he visited Hogan a few weeks ago.
“He wanted to talk about New Choices,” the executive director recalled. “You know what was most impressive? He was at peace. He was the most selfless individual I have ever met.”
Funeral arrangements slated for next week are pending.