Rev. Gerald W. Conway passed away peacefully on Jan. 29, 2019, after a brief illness. Fr. Jerry was born on Sept. 26, 1931, the third of nine children of Amelia Rose Clemens and Patrick Henry Conway II. He was raised on the family farm in rural Byron, west of Rochester.
Jerry attended Byron schools through the 8th grade and graduated from Lourdes High School, class of 1949. He attended Loras College for two years, then transferred to St. Mary’s College in Winona, graduating Cum Laude in 1953. He studied at Pontifical North American College, Rome, and was ordained a priest on Dec. 16, 1956.
Fr. Jerry earned a Master of Arts in Secondary Education from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul. In 1963, he was assigned to do graduate study at the Gregorian University in Rome, earning the degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology in 1965.
In his 62 years in the priesthood, Fr. Jerry served at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart; Cotter High School; the Diocese of Winona; parishes in Altura, Elba, Rose Creek, Lyle, Brownsdale and Wabasha; Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary; St. Mary College in Xavier, Kan.; the Catholic Seminary of Indianapolis; and the Newman Center in Mankato.
In service to family, he performed marriages for six of his siblings and for 16 nieces and nephews, baptisms for numerous nieces and nephews, and funerals for his parents, brother, grandmother, aunts and uncles, siblings’ spouses, and his niece, Kathy.
Fr. Jerry retired from active ministry in 1999, residing in Rochester, with winters spent in Scottsdale AZ. In 2004, he moved permanently to Arizona, assisting at parishes in Scottsdale, Glendale and Tolleson and offering Mass each Sunday to fellow residents at his community.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents, Pat and Amelia; his oldest brother, Pat; his niece, Kathleen Van Lierop; and his nephew, Mark Conway.
Surviving are siblings, Dan (Joyce), Bernie (Judy), Marilyn Zahrt (John) and Elaine Selmier (Travis) in Arizona, John and David (Peggy) in California, and Terry (Barbara) in South Carolina; 22 nieces and nephews; and more than 40 in the next generations.
In early January, Fr. Jerry traveled to Rome for a reunion of Pontifical North American College, where he fell ill and spent nine days in hospitals there. He returned directly to Mayo Hospital in Phoenix and passed away in hospice. His last non-hospital, non-airplane meal was fettuccine Alfredo at Alfredo’s in Rome.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Lourdes Foundation or St. Mary’s University Endowment.
A Celebration of Life will occur at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, at Pueblo Norte in Scottsdale, Ariz. A funeral service will be held in the spring at St. John’s Catholic Church in Rochester with burial at Calvary Cemetery managed by Macken Funeral Home.