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Dec 21, 2010 4:46 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Pope Confers Title Of Monsignor On Southampton Village Pastor

Dec 21, 2010 4:46 PM

Monsignor Jeffrey Madley describes himself as an amateur astronomer, peering into outer space with his telescope to view majestic nebulae and distant galaxies.

Those who take a closer look will discover that the stars have aligned nicely for him in recent months: Pope Benedict XVI recently conferred the title of monsignor upon the longtime priest at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Church in Southampton Village.

“I was very pleasantly surprised,” Monsignor Madley said in a recent interview in his teddy bear-filled office in the church rectory. “It’s one of those things you don’t expect to happen to you, like somebody calling you up and saying you won the New York State Lottery,” he added, laughing.

Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which covers Nassau and Suffolk counties, delivered the news.

Monsignor Madley, who turned 62 on Monday, is now a monsignor at the level of Chaplain to His Holiness, the first of three levels for monsignors. The honorary title is bestowed upon Catholic priests as a sign of appreciation and recognition of the service they have rendered, according to the diocese.

The diocese sends recommendations to the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, D.C., the pope’s representative in the United States, Monsignor Madley explained. From there, the recommendation traveled to Rome.

Monsignor Madley said he took delight in noticing that an all-Latin letter he received indicating the honor was dated April 25, 2010—exactly 34 years to the day he was first ordained as a priest. But even though the letter was dated last spring, he only learned of his new title in November, he said, and Bishop Murphy announced the honor this month.

Monsignor Madley will officially be installed as a monsignor on Saturday, January 8, at the Hill Street church during 5 p.m. Mass.

And though he likes to look to the heavens, Monsignor Madley remains down to earth and speaks passionately about helping others—even though the demands of his job are great. He noted with great sadness
that in his nearly 35-year tenure as pastor, he has buried 11 victims of drunken driving accidents. “And only one was a drunken driver,” he said, pointing out that he is reminded of such accidents around year’s end, when they often occur.

Serving Catholics on the East End is where the longtime Sacred Hearts pastor’s heart lies. “You use whatever talents you have as an individual to try to help somebody,” he said. “I believe God puts people in places for reasons, and for whatever reason, he put me here.”

Born in Manhattan, Monsignor Madley largely grew up in Hampton Bays, and some of his fondest memories include visiting his grandparents’
Shinnecock Hills bungalow as a youth. Though he said the bungalow was demolished decades ago, via eminent domain, to pave the way for the construction of Sunrise Highway, it was where he picked up his stargazing hobby. It also helped nourish his love of the beach.

Fascinated as a boy by toy soldiers and his grandfather
Allan Currie’s tales as a detective for the New York Police Department’s 110th Precinct in
 Queens, Monsignor Madley said he once dreamed of becoming a military doctor and, at age 13, enrolled in a Catholic military boarding school—the now-defunct La Salle Military Academy that had been located in Oakdale.

He lasted three months. That route, he realized, was not for him. But the church was.

Monsignor Madley returned to the East End for his Catholic education and has continued down that path ever since.

Sacred Hearts has about 1,750 registered families, he said, and approximately 4,000 parishioners. A typical winter Sunday service draws about 950 worshippers into the pews, whereas that number mushrooms in the summer to about 1,500 or 1,600.

According to those who know him, Monsignor Madley has left an indelible impression.

“He is a very kind and holy person,” said Peg Jordan, a liturgy coordinator and prominent parishioner at the Southampton Village church. “Holiness stands out on this man.”

Ms. Jordan, a Southampton Village resident, said she has known Monsignor Madley—whom she calls “Father Jeff”—since his arrival at the Southampton church in 2000.

“When he first came to us, the priest used to call him the ‘Gentle Giant,’ and I think that suits him,” Ms. Jordan said of the 6-foot-6-inch-tall pastor. She marveled at his ability to find the time to reach out to people and to always do things for the benefit of the parish.

Monsignor Madley, who lives in the rectory behind the church, said teaching is one of his favorite aspects of the job. And, he said, one of his goals always involves better integrating the burgeoning Spanish-speaking community of Catholics.

“He’s probably the nicest person I’ve met in my life,” said Bill Kunzer, supervisor of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Catholic Cemetery and part-time business manager for the church, adding that he has known “Father Jeff” for decades. “He’s really deserving to become monsignor. People have really kind of rallied around him,” Mr. Kunzer said, noting that the pastor has helped turn the parish around financially.

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Congratulations Jeff you are a nice man and a good choice was made. my wife and I wish you the best of luck
By joe hampton (3461), south hampton on Jan 1, 11 2:41 PM
A kind and gentle man. Well deserved Father Jeff ! Congratulations!
By powerwalker (52), Southampton on Jan 2, 11 9:40 PM