The Monsignor Taaffe Memorial Webpage

Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Father Taaffe

December 12, 1926 to July 5, 2008

The Monsignor Taaffe Memorial Webpage

Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Father Taaffe

December 12, 1926,

to July 5, 2008

Through the Eyes of Those Who Knew Him

Fr. Taaffe touched and changed the lives of many people, giving them stories they cherish. Here is a collection of some of those stories, shared to remember the life and legacy of Fr. Taaffe.

To add your own memory of or story about Fr. Taaffe to this collection, please fill out this form, or email Heidi Frederick at [email protected]

The Famous Fr. Taaffe

Courtesy of Frank Stuckart

Shared 10/05/2023

Fr. Taaffe went to Ireland as a young priest. This was at the same time as and in the same location where they were filming the movie, “The Quiet Man” with Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne. Maureen O’Hara and her entourage came into the restaurant where Fr. Taaffe was eating alone. She saw the young priest and invited him to sit with her. She asked him what he knew about the village and upon hearing he didn’t know too much, offered him a private tour with her the next day. The next day, as Maureen O’Hara and young Fr. Taaffe were walking along the cobblestone streets, residents were peeking out their windows to get a view of the famous actress. Fr. Taaffe said, “Ms. O’Hara, do you know who these people are pointing at and what they are saying?” Modeling modesty, Maureen O’Hara said she didn’t know. Fr. Taaffe replied, “They are pointing at you, and saying, ‘Who is that strange woman with the famous Fr. Taaffe?'” This is just one of many examples of Fr. Taaffe’s humor!

Humble Hero

Courtesy of Richard & Vickie Axenty

Shared 12/28/2023

Richard and Vickie shared that Father Taaffe is their Personal Hero – not only due to the amazing homes offered to young pregnant women/girls – but due to his incredible humility. They shared on two occasions, they were at a local restaurant and saw Father Taaffe dining alone. On both occasions, there were so many young women who came up to him and thanked him for giving them a home and a wonderful start of their lives for their babies. He always maintained his humility with them – never trying to have the limelight or bask in the glory of their praise.

Confessional Dogs

Courtesy of Fr. William,
Mount Angel

Shared 02/13/2024

Fr. William was helping Fr. Taaffe one Saturday at St. Edward’s Parish and offered to be in the confessional. As he prepared to enter, he noticed that Fr. Taaffe’s dogs were close by – and actually followed him right into the confessional! Later, Fr. William learned how these beloved dogs went just about everywhere with Fr. Taaffe. This story is solid proof of that indeed.

Christmas Joy

Courtesy of Yessica Abigail Martínez

Shared 10/05/2023

Christmas is my favorite holiday, thanks to Father Taaffe. He made me believe and gave me hope when I most needed it. My name is Yessica Abigail Martínez, I lived in the Saint Theresa house where I met Father Taaffe. [I met him] thanks to my aunt, Teresita, who also lived in one of the houses. Christmas day under a tree full of gifts with our names on them is a good memory. He was there to open a few presents, he was there to listen to us, and even though I didn’t understand English at first, he didn’t care. We had a way to communicate. I got to know the other young women of my age, to know that I was not alone and I had help. That is what Father Taaffe did for me. Father Taaffe was kind, smart and he understood the problems that a young woman can go through when having a child at an early age. He helped build the houses with a lot of resources to help the women in need. He hired personnel to take care of the houses. I call them Mamas because that’s what they were to me – a mother who was there to supervise us, to guide us, to talk to us, cry with us and have fun. I was one of them. I am proud to say he helped me understand that not all religious preachers are the same as they say they are. He was one of a kind person who loved to help. We will miss you, Father Taaffe. I can say you are loved by all of us and made an impact on the community as well as to me personally.

Angel Kisses

Courtesy of Sharon Zielinski

Shared 08/07/2023

I remember, as a teen, Fr. Taaffe was pastor at St. Edward’s where my family were parishioners. I remember him commenting on my freckles, “I know it’s summer when I see the angel kisses on you.” He was always so sincerely interested in listening to each person he conversed with.

Simple Moments

Courtesy of Tonya Sorensen

Shared 08/30/2023

Which story to choose from? The time we were at the beach and, while standing next to the ocean, he told me to get in and he’d baptize me. All the times he would come to St. Teresa just to read the newspaper at the kitchen table, while little ones were crawling around his feet. The calming presence he had during scary times for the moms we served. Being so proud that the longest resident of St. Teresa lived at the home for 5 years. Such great memories – I sure do miss him.

Mystery Gardeners

Courtesy of Jack Gander

Shared 10/05/2023

One year, Father Taaffe went to the coast for a vacation. While away, Jack and a few others thought it would be nice to spray the weeds and other pesky plants in Father’s yard. They did a great job – including removing lots of ivy – and were excited to share their efforts with him. When he got home, he was quite upset – stating that this could be very detrimental to his dogs. Jack had not realized at the time that Father’s dogs were actually his family, and he would do anything to protect them. They seemed to not only have the run of the yard, but also of Father Taaffe. The men were forgiven and remained close and dedicated to Father Taaffe until his death and continue to carry on his legacy to this day.

Stubborn Stranger

Courtesy of Arleigh Lulay

Shared 12/28/2023

Arleigh was going to the Salem Hospital one day and noticed an elderly gentleman walking from a few blocks away with a noticeable limp. She stopped her car and asked if he needed a ride anywhere. He politely declined and continued to struggle with his walk. She insisted that she wanted to help, and he persisted that he didn’t want to inconvenience anyone. She then firmly told him, “Just get into my car.” He obliged her and advised he was going to the hospital concerned about his bad leg. She let him out at the entrance and again, tried to assist him inside – which he declined. Later, she learned it was indeed Father Taaffe.  She was so impressed with his humility that she became a supporter of his wonderful Father Taaffe Homes program.

The History of the Dinner

Courtesy of Jack Gander

Shared 10/05/2023

Jack shared that the American Council of Catholic Women started the annual dinner in the early 1970s to benefit the Father Taaffe Homes in Mt. Angel. It became too much a task for them, so Jack volunteered to take over in the early 1980s – not knowing how this event would grow. Jack just wanted to honor Father Taaffe who had been his priest while at St. Edward’s Parish in Keizer from 1971-78. He helped find different venues that would be just right and landed at the Sacred Heart Gymnasium in Gervais. He was well-supported by the Gervais Knights of Columbus Council, featuring the famous Salmon and Steak menu for the dinner. It has been his absolute joy and honor to help organize this event. However, Jack turned 90 years of age on January 4, 2024 and he feels it is time to turn it over. Sue Foster will continue with coordinating the dinner, devoting the the same quality and commitment to it that Father Taaffe and Jack Gander did.

The Auction Cross

Courtesy of Cheri Crocker

Shared 05/13/2024

Fr. Harris had yearly Auction dinners at different Churches in the area near Salem, OR. 

The board members attended the auction dinner, and we could be a part of the bidding on auction items. I was at one of these dinner-auctions. I knew that one of the auction items was a ceramic St. Patrick Irish cross donated by Fr. Taaffe. I was hoping to get the cross. So I bid on it, right at the beginning of the process of the bidding.  I did not hear what the auctioneer said when he started the bid at $1,000.00. I put up my paddle with my number, then after no one else bid on it, the auctioneer called out, “SOLD!” – to ME! For $1,000.00! I was shocked. What could I do? I didn’t have $1,000.00 with me or even in my bank account. I was very scared.

So I stayed calm and after the auction was over, I went over to Fr. Taaffe and told him my problem. He listened and said, “No problem.” I told him, “I have $100.00,” and he replied, “Sold.” I was so happy and relieved! I still have the Cross to this day.

Backyard Mass

Courtesy of Eileen Virden

Shared 07/05/2022

I first encountered Father Taaffe when I was a teacher at Blanchet Catholic School.  He often joined Blanchet and Queen of Peace School teachers on the first day of in-servicing by celebrating a special Mass and benediction for the entire school community as they prepared for the new school year.  One very memorable Mass celebration took place in the backyard of Chuck Lee’s house, which backed up to the Willamette River and was particularly beautiful. I didn’t know Father Taaffe, personally, but I felt so honored to be in his presence during those special Mass celebrations. Father Taaffe took his work very seriously, but he also had a wonderful sense of humor and knew his way around a pun– a true Irishman!  Anyone who has lived in Salem for any length of time knows of him even if they never met him.  His legacy ministry, Father Taaffe Homes, is a testament to his life-affirming pastoral love of young women who were experiencing a crisis pregnancy. Ensuring Fr. Taaffe’s ministry continues to provide support and love to women in Salem is one of the main reasons I began working at CCS. 

Fr. Taaffe: Hall of Famer

Courtesy of Blanchet Catholic School

Mystery Solved!

Courtesy of CCS and Blanchet Catholic School

Father Taaffe Memory Submission