Father John Christopher “Chris” Allegra, a bundle of energy who served in parishes in rural Kentucky since 1973, died Oct. 21 at Jewish Hospital in Louisville. He was 70.
Father Allegra had been pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Fredericktown, Ky., and administrator of Holy Rosary Church in Manton, Ky., since 1996. He was a native of Boston, Mass., and was ordained a Dominican priest on St. Valentine’s Day in 1970 in Washington, D.C.
He served in Johnson City, Tenn., before coming to the Archdiocese of Louisville as pastor of St. Rose Church in Springfield, Ky., in 1973.
After 17 years at St. Rose parish, Father Allegra asked to join the priesthood of the Archdiocese of Louisville. He spent three years in transition and became a diocesan priest in January of 1993. He served as pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church in New Hope, Ky., from 1993 to 1996, when he was assigned to his positions in Manton and Fredericktown.
Father Allegra attended Boston Latin High School, studied philosophy at St. Stephen College in Dover, Mass., and theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.
His other assignments in the Archdiocese of Louisville have included serving at St. Ann Church in Howardstown; Most Blessed Sacrament, St. Bartholomew and St. George churches in Louisville; at the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown, Ky.; and at St. Aloysius Church in Shepherdsville, Ky.
Robbie Smith, parish council chair of Holy Rosary Church in Manton, Ky., said that members of his parish remember Father Allegra as a “good shepherd.”
“Every time we talk about him, we talk about him being a good shepherd. He took care of his flock and parishes,” he said. “He was always happy and willing to have any kind of parish function, and he stood behind you 100 percent.”
Smith also said that he will personally miss Father Allegra’s “charisma and excitability.”
“He was always willing to champion any improvement to make sure things were better,” Smith added.
Tommy Kidwell, parish council president of Holy Trinity Church in Fredericktown, Ky., said Father Allegra’s legacy will be the friendships he made at his two parishes.
“He was everyone’s friend,” Kidwell noted. “He’s been good to our parish. He held everyone together. He’s done a good job.”
Father Allegra is survived by a brother, Frank, and his sister-in-law, Mary, and a niece and nephew, all of whom live in Philadelphia, Pa.
Visitation will be at Holy Trinity Church in Fredericktown on Oct. 24 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a vigil service at 7 p.m., and on Oct. 25 from 7 a.m. until the funeral.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Oct. 25 at Holy Trinity. Burial will be in the parish cemetery.