Msgr. John Lenihan dies at 83

Irish priest became pastor of San Jose Catholic Church

Published On: Feb 07 2013 03:39:14 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 07 2013 03:44:59 PM EST
Msgr. John Lenihan
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A prominent Catholic priest who helped Jacksonville through one of its darkest periods has died.

Msgr. John Lenihan -- longtime pastor of San Jose Catholic Church -- died Wednesday of heart failure at age 83.

Lenihan was pastor of the church when 8-year-old Maddie Clifton disappeared and was later found dead. The Clifton family attended the church and Maddie attended the parish school. He and others at the church mobilized volunteers to help in the search, and when her body was found under a neighbor's bed, he helped her classmates -- and the community -- grieve.

Lenihan was born in Ireland, and came to Florida after he was ordained.

Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. Monday at San Jose Catholic Church, 3619 Toledo Road, to be followed by a prayer service. The funeral will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday at San Jose.