Reverend Michael McGilley
Fr. McGilley was truly “one of a kind.” He loved Paul VI and showed his love by attending many school functions, especially cheering on the Eagles on the football field and basketball court. He was fighting for first place in the annual Paul VI Ad and Patron Drive. Anyone who was in Fr. McGilley’s homeroom will fondly remember his famous “Ad & Patron” song which his room faithfully sang every day during the drive.
He was also the faculty Moderator of the famous “Paul VI Jersey Giant” Saturday night dances which ran from the late 1960s to the late 70s. These dances attracted crowds of 1200 to 1500 young people every week with noted Philadelphia Disc Jockeys such as Hy Lit, Don Rose and Joel Denver and entertainers such as Freda Payne, Hall and Oates an Van McCoy.
Fr. McGilley was a true friend who would always stand by anyone in need. He looked out for everyone in the Paul VI family and was a friend to the Cranston family for many years while he taught at Paul VI. He was born and raised in Atlantic City but he loved Ireland, the birthplace of both his parents. In fact, every summer he vacationed in Ireland and even filled in for the pastor of the parish where his parents lived before they came to America.
Fr. McGilley was one of the original faculty members who began teaching at Paul VI when the school opened in 1966 and he continued to teach US History and Latin until he left in 1993.
Most of his students admired him for his love of teaching, his sense of humor and his loyalty to his church and country. Being a student in Fr. McGilley’s class was truly a unique experience which most of his students would remember fondly.
After he left Paul VI, Fr. McGilley went into parish work at St. Maria Goretti parish in Runnemede and then was appointed pastor of Holy Maternity parish in Audubon. Fr. McGilley had one brother and a twin sister. All three siblings were graduates of Holy Spirit High School. In January 2001, Fr. McGilley passed away, but he will always remain alive in our hearts.
“We cannot love that which we do not know or understand, or understand that which we have not studied. Our purpose is Love, Knowledge and Appreciation of our world."
Father McGilley is fondly remembered for being the coordinator of the infamous Paul VI Saturday Night Dances. In the 1970's Paul VI had the most well-attended dance in the tri-state area. No kidding, kids would come over from PA to attend our dances. You would hear about our dances on the local rock 'n roll radio stations during the week. That was because the guys playing the records at our dances (those were these round vinyl disks about the size of a pizza that had music on them) were then very famous radio jocks including Don Cannon, Jerry Blavat ("the Geater with the Heater" as he was known) and Jim O'Brien who later became famous and beloved as a weather guy on Action News. Having these well-known Philly radio DJs made the dance a must-attend for all teens in the early 70's. So the school needed a tough guy to run the events and Father McGilley was their man. He was infamously known for reminding us over the loud speaker on Friday afternoons that the entry into the dance was $3.00 and the dress code was "casual but neat; no sneakers or jeans." Can you imagine? He turned down tough guys from Philly schools because they were wearing sneakers! As an aside, I personally managed to get into all dances for free and in fact made money at the dance because I worked the coat check in the cafeteria. So, I missed the first 15 minutes and last 15 minutes of the dance but I netted a profit of whatever they paid me plus the $3.00 I didn't pay to get in! Truly, Father McGilley loved teaching, loved being with the kids at school and also loved Ireland, to which he traveled when he could.