When Father Richard Gallagher retired from active ministry in 2014, he indicated learning two very important things throughout his lifetime – “Divine Providence is going to lead me” and “You have to extend yourself and broaden yourself and it will all come together.”

For Father Gallagher, it’s been a combination of following Divine Providence and his own willingness and determination to broaden himself that lead him to have a variety of experiences since he was ordained a priest 50 years ago.

Father Richard J. Gallagher was born in 1944 in Philadelphia and is a graduate of the Archdiocese’s Cardinal Dougherty High School.

Realizing he had a priestly vocation at an early age, he opted to apply for acceptance in the seminary in the Archdiocese of Mobile, Ala. He graduated from St. Mary College, Marion County, Ky., and Mount St. Mary Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md. He was ordained a priest by Bishop John L. May of Mobile on May 13, 1972.

After serving in a number of parishes in Alabama, he returned to the northeast to be closer to his family. Father Gallagher ministered in the Diocese of Wilmington, Del., from 1975 to 1979, and was then invited to serve in a New Jersey parish. He was incardinated into the Diocese of Trenton in 1983.

Father Gallagher served as a parochial vicar of Sacred Heart Parish, Mount Holly, and pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish, Trenton, (now part of Sacred Heart Parish, Trenton), from 1987 to 1989, and then Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Hainesport, from 1989 to 1993.

With permission from Bishop John M. Smith, Father Gallagher traveled to California, where he put his 1991 degree in counseling from Villanova University, Villanova, Pa., to use as a community counselor in San Francisco County. He returned to the East Coast to care for his ailing mother and serve part-time in St. Luke Parish, Toms River, and parishes in the Bayshore area of Monmouth County on weekends.

In 2006, Father Gallagher began service with the Apostleship of the Sea as a cruise chaplain; he returned to the Diocese of Trenton as parochial vicar in St. Rose Parish, Belmar, in 2012, then to St. Theresa Parish, Little Egg Harbor. Father Gallagher retired from active ministry June 29, 2014. He resides in Morris Hall, Lawrenceville.