Fr. John Gephart recognized for ‘optimal’ aging

By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor

Father John Gephart was recognized at a luncheon Sept. 24 that honored people for excellence in aging. Father Gephart is pictured with his niece Donna Barry, right, and Dr. Jane Thibault, a member of the University of Louisville's Geriatrics Advisory Board. (Photo submitted by Father Roy Stiles)

Father John Gephart was recognized at a luncheon Sept. 24 that honored people for excellence in aging. Father Gephart is pictured with his niece Donna Barry, right, and Dr. Jane Thibault, a member of the University of Louisville’s Geriatrics Advisory Board. (Photo submitted by Father Roy Stiles)

At age 92, Father John Gephart is the oldest diocesan priest in the Archdiocese of Louisville, but he still lives like a younger man, according to those who know him.

He banks online, uses Facebook and does his own laundry, said his niece, Donna Barry.

Father Gephart was among about 50 elderly people nominated for the University of Louisville Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine’s 2013 Gold Standard Award for Optimal Aging. Nominees were recognized during an award ceremony on Sept. 24 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

While Father Gephart didn’t win the award, Barry and his friend, Father Roy Stiles, say he deserves recognition.

“He does so much for other people throughout his whole priestly life,” said Barry. “When he retired … for the next 10 years he was still chaplain at Jewish, Norton and Kosair” hospitals.

“Even at 92 he is sharp as a tack — he plays bridge, he does his own laundry. He does it all,” Barry said. “He still attends Mass everyday at 11 a.m. and sits at the altar with the other priests.”

Father Gephart has served as a priest of the archdiocese for 65 years. He currently lives in an independent living area of Nazareth Home on Newburg Road.

During six decades of active ministry, Father Gephart taught at Flaget High School and Trinity High School for 19 years and served as pastor of several parishes, including a decade at St. Barnabas Church and 11 years at St. Matthias Church, where he served until his retirement in 1991.

He also was one of several pastors instrumental in establishing Shively Area Ministries, a thriving community ministry supported by area churches.

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