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Memorial service honors life of Madigan priest

Published: 02:19PM September 12th, 2012

Father Ralph Carney passed away suddenly on Aug. 26, leaving behind a faithful congregation at Madigan Healthcare System.

Carney, 89, had served as Madigan’s Roman Catholic Priest since 1999. In that capacity he provided mass seven days a week, except the first Friday of each month, year round. He ministered to the patients and the staff whenever possible.

“He was loyal to Madigan, both the staff and the patients,” said Lt. Col. Jimmy Davis, chief of Madigan’s Pastoral Care division. “He would come in every morning before mass and get a roster of Catholic patients, but he never excluded other patients.”

Carney’s commitment to the military started many years ago and lasted his entire lifetime. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Carney left the service and became a Catholic priest. He then rejoined the service as an Air Force chaplain, transitioned to the Army and served as the 101st Airborne Division chaplain during Vietnam. He retired from the Army in 1976 as a lieutenant colonel. He later earned a master’s degree in psychology and worked at Western State Hospital. He ministered at St. John Bosco Catholic Church in Lakewood from 1992 until 1999, when he joined Madigan.

“He was in a lot of ways the continuity in our office,” Davis said. “He had seen quite a few directors come through and I could lean on him when I needed to know something.”

To recognize his life’s work and to pay tribute to his commitment to Madigan, the hospital will sponsor a memorial service for Carney Friday, Sept. 14, at 11 a.m. on at Four Chaplains Church at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The service will be led by Davis and Carney’s niece, Stephanie Stephens will speak. Dorothy Strobl-Lucas will perform a song.

“He was a fixture at Madigan. Losing him has been like losing a member of my family. It will take awhile to get used to his absence. He left some big shoes to fill,” Davis said.