Father LaPorta dies after brief illness

A funeral Mass was offered for Father Gerald F. LaPorta on Dec. 31 at Our Lady Star of the Sea in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Father LaPorta, 77, died on Dec. 25 following a brief illness. He had been living in Little River, S.C., since his retirement in 1995.

Father LaPorta, a native of Frostburg, grew up in St. Michael parish there with his brother Ross, who also became a priest.

Ordained in 1957, Father LaPorta’s first parish assignment was at St. Peter the Apostle, Oakland. He also served at St. Joseph, Sykesville; as chaplain at the Springfield Hospital Center, Sykesville; and at St. John the Evangelist, Frederick, where he also taught high school. In 1974 he returned to St. Peter the Apostle to serve as pastor, and then served as associate pastor of St. Patrick, Cumberland, from 1975 until 1981, when he took an education sabbatical. He returned a year later as pastor of St. Mary of the Annunciation, Lonaconing, where he served for 13 years.

Father LaPorta was remembered for his decorations for the church and rectory, especially at Christmas.

“He was a wonderful man; he was very dedicated to the church and he kept our church absolutely beautiful,” said Ann Creegan, who worked for him as a cook, housekeeper and secretary at St. Mary of the Annunciation.

Father LaPorta played the organ and directed the choir, and his brother would play the violin when he visited.

“He was very musical,” Ms. Creegan said. She recalled with a laugh that when the choir was performing a special song, Father LaPorta would come off the altar, direct the choir “and then he’d go back up on the altar and finish Mass.”

Ms. Creegan recalled that parishioners helped him renovate and decorate the rectory.

“He was well-liked up here,” she said.

Father LaPorta was devoted to his family, and he moved to South Carolina with his mother after his father died. He served at Our Lady Star of the Sea there.

Condolences may be sent to his brother Father Ross A. LaPorta, 4136 Fairway Drive, Little River, S.C. 29566-8036.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.