GREAT BEND – Rev. Father Dermot Francis Tighe, 89, passed away on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2020, at Via Christi St. Francis in Wichita. He was born August 4, 1930, to James Tighe and Sarah (McDermott) Tighe in Strokestown, Ireland, county of Roscommon. He was the youngest of ten.
Dermot attended elementary school at St. Mary’s Strokestown and Cloonfree. At age 11 he won an academic scholarship to attend the Diocesan high school at Summerhill College in Sligo, Ireland. Following high school, he attended the seminary at St Patrick’s College in Carlow, Ireland. He was very involved in athletics during his school years particularly the Irish game of hurling.
Dermot heard his calling to the priesthood, and at the age 24, took his vows and was ordained on June 6, 1954, at the Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow, Ireland, by the Most Rev. Thomas Keogh, bishop of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. Father Tighe was recruited to Kansas by Monsignor John Cody, who was originally from Kilkenny, Ireland, and had great success recruiting Irish priests to Kansas. In Kansas, Father Tighe was assigned to parishes throughout the Dodge City Archdiocese. He served as an assistant pastor at St. Joseph’s, Liebenthal (1954-57), and Sacred Heart Cathedral, Dodge City (1957-59). His early pastorates were St. Lawrence, Jetmore, with St. Anthony, Hanston (1959-61), and St. Francis Xavier, Seward, (1961-65). He served as chaplain at Central Kansas Medical Center in Great Bend from 1965 to 1967.
Father Tighe became a United States citizen in 1959, the first week he was eligible. In 1967, as Vietnam war escalated, he volunteered to serve in the Army, serving as an army chaplain from 1967 to 1976, including a year in Vietnam. His first assignment was Fort Hood, Texas, and on August 22, 1968, he left for Southeast Asia. There he served on the front line and ministered to the infantrymen and gave last rites to dying soldiers in the field. Following Vietnam, Father Tighe decided to stay in the Army, and was stationed in Ft. McCelland, Alabama, Ft. Richardson, Alaska, and Ft. Eustis, Virginia. He also served with the National Guard in Washington DC, Dodge City and Hutchinson. He retired as a Bird Colonel, which is one rank below a Brigadier General, in 1990.
During his service to the Diocese, Father Tighe held a number of diocesan posts including Director of Religious Vocations, Director of Hospitals, and a member of the Seminary Board and Priest’s Trust Fund Board. Father Tighe also worked in the Tribunal office where he served as Judicial Vicar. His later pastorates included St. Andrew, Wright (1977-84); St. Stanislaus, Ingalls (1985-91), and St. Patrick, Great Bend (1991-97). He was senior priest in residence at St. Patrick, Great Bend, until his retirement on Jan. 31, 1998.
Following his retirement, Father Tighe remained where he considered home, Great Bend, and was warmly embraced by the faith community. He had a prominent presence at St. Patrick Catholic Church and Lake Barton Golf course, where he played regularly. Most recently he lived at the Catholic Care Center in Bel Aire, north of Wichita, where he made many new friends.
He has 33 living nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, James and Sarah, and siblings, James, Bridie, Mary, Tom, Annie, Alice, Brendan, John and Michael. A private Mass was held and a public Memorial Mass will be held at a later date due to Mass restrictions and limitations set forth by the Catholic Diocese, due to the current virus pandemic. Throughout his life, Father Tighe showed an unwavering devotion to the causes of the poor and the unborn. He donated his home in Great Bend to Birthright and was charitable to many other causes that were faithful to the book of Matthew that the last shall be first. Memorials are suggested to the Birthright, Holy Family School Endowment Fund or Prince of Peace Parish, in care of Bryant Funeral Home.
Funeral arrangements provided by
Bryant Funeral Home
1425 Patton Road
Great Bend, KS 67530
Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune, March 22, 2020