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Corr, Finbarr Michael

corrFinbarr Michael Corr, Ed.D.

South Dennis - Finbarr Michael Corr was born in County Cavan, Ireland, on July 25, 1935, as the seventh of nine children of John Francis Corr and Nell (Doyle) Corr. He died on August 18, 2021, on Cape Cod. From growing up in a large Irish family to barely escaping a rectory fire and living to a healthy 86 years, Finbarr led a blessed life. He was blessed with a peaceful death in the most tranquil of settings at the VNA Hospice McCarthy Care Center in Sandwich, Massachusetts.

Finbarr was kind, loving, warm, deep and full of joy. He was authentic, positive and generous, always assuming the best in people and looking to engage. He made everything fun. His was a purpose-driven life as a change agent and leader, always ministering to others in some form and "whooshing" people along to get them involved in projects that would make a difference or address a need. He didn't shrink from difficult subjects or issues.

Finbarr began to serve Mass at St. Michael's Catholic Church, Potahee, Ireland, at the age of 8. That same year he started his fundraising career by selling raffle tickets at three pence each for a mission in Africa. He was an avid sportsman. As a youth, he played Gaelic football, swam and loved long-distance running, becoming a novice champion in 1959 for two counties in the mile race.

At age 14 he cycled 16 miles to ask his uncle Father Lawrence Corr to pay his boarding school fees at St. Patrick's College, Cavan. He surprised his siblings and classmates when he announced in 1954 that he wished to study for the priesthood and join his brother Father Jack and his uncle Father Michael Corr, who were already pastors in New Jersey parishes.

He was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Carlow on June 11, 1960, and emigrated to the US at the end of August of the same year.

He served for six years in the inner city of Paterson, New Jersey, at St. Agnes Parish. He became active in the Knights of Columbus and was their chaplain for five years. He was transferred to a suburban parish, St. Margaret's of Scotland, in Morristown NJ. in 1966, where his new pastor, Monsignor Haag, encouraged him to continue his education. He received an MS in Pastoral Counseling from Iona College and an Ed.D. in Family Life Education from Columbia University, NYC.

While serving in Morristown, he partnered with a young Episcopalian priest and initiated a pulpit dialogue exchange among all the Christian churches in town. He also gave a four-week program at the Methodist Church entitled "A Catholic Priest Critiques John Wesley." A lay friend introduced him to the local rabbi, with whom he developed a dialogue.

Finbarr's life and ministry underwent a dramatic change in 1969 when Bishop Casey appointed him as the first full-time director of the Family Life Bureau. His duties included creating family life programs for all 80 parishes in the diocese. He used the results of his doctoral dissertation to create pre-marriage programs, and he visited all the parishes and preached at all the masses regarding the purpose of the Family Life Movement as a powerful change driver rather than just a vehicle for basic premarital education. Finbarr also initiated a marriage and family counseling program at his office in Paterson and engaged other professional therapists to assist him in providing therapy for all individuals, couples and families who sought help.

In 1971 one of Finbarr's benefactors offered to create an ecumenical board of governors, who would raise money and assist in the administration of the Family Life Bureau. In his ten years as head of the Family Life Bureau, members of the Board assisted him in organizing a Family Day Rally for 5,000 participants at Clifton Stadium and then, in 1978, a statewide rally for 18,000 participants at Rutgers Stadium. The Board was also key in helping him quadruple the annual income for the Family Life Bureau.

In 1979 Bishop Rodimer surprised Finbar with a Monday morning phone call inviting him to become pastor of St. Vincent Martyr Parish in Madison. Finbarr asked why he was being appointed to a parish that was 60% Italian, considering that he still had a strong Irish accent. The bishop replied, "You are exactly what the parish needs right now." Finbarr later realized that he was being sent there by the bishop to serve as a healing pastor for the community.

With the assistance of two younger associate pastors and two new lay trustees, he created a post-Vatican II community. He formed a Pastoral Team, sharing authority with the two associates and the new trustees. Using the Stewardship Program, they tripled the number of lay volunteers and tripled the weekly collections in the first three years.

Having spent many hours working with teenagers during his ten years directing the Family Life Bureau, Finbarr realized he needed a full-time youth minister to increase attendance at religious education classes. The new youth minister increased attendance from 30 students weekly to 300. To address the decreasing attendance at St. Vincent Martyr School, Finbarr and his team addressed the issue and had parents speak from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. He hired a dynamic new principal who, along with the team of good teachers, helped the school thrive.

In 1987 Finbarr left for a six-month sabbatical in Rome, where he studied theology and mastered Italian (with an Irish brogue). Upon his return, and after a period of prayerful discernment, he resigned the priesthood and married Laurie Hutton of Kansas in October of 1988. He continued his counseling practice in Florham Park and Morristown, taught Psychology at a local community college, and began writing books to share his experiences and perspectives with others. He became an active member of Rotary and, in 2001/2002 initiated a Dialog for Peace program designed to encourage productive dialogue among Muslims, Christians and Jews. Finbarr also started a business named "Partners in Change" that provided support for students in a number of the area Catholic high schools.

In 2004 Finbarr and Laurie moved to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, which he loved as his Ireland in America. Always a believer in the value of education, he taught Psychology for ten years as an adjunct professor and, upon retiring at age 75, founded the Advocates for a Community College Education (ACCE) to raise money for financially needy students on Cape Cod who are passionate about continuing their education at the local community college. He was an active member of a local authors' group, Rising Tide Writers, and especially enjoyed the personal interaction from selling his books directly to readers at book fairs and bookstores.

At the time of his death, he had authored ten works spanning his childhood in Ireland, his work as a marriage and family therapist and his ministry within the Catholic church.

Finbarr is survived by his devoted wife Laurie and his younger brother Fonsie Corr, as well as by 23 nieces and nephews around the world.

Because Finbarr's family and friends extend worldwide and to protect people from the corona virus, a Memorial Mass for Finbarr will be streamed live on Tuesday, September 28 at 2:30 PM US EDT at

Prayers are appreciated very much by Finbarr's family. There is no need to do anything more, but for anyone who would like to act in his memory, donations can be made to the Advocates for a Community College Education by going online at or by mail to ACCE, Paul Griffin 60 Exeter Road, West Yarmouth, MA 02673.

For online condolences please visit

Finbarr joined CORPUS in1989.


Laurie Hutton
36 Island St.
South Dennis, MA 02660