The Order of Carmelites and St. Agnes Parish are among those across Arizona who spent Thanksgiving Eve offering gratitude for the life of Fr. Charles Kurgan.

He passed away Nov. 21. Fr. Kurgan would have turned 78 Dec. 5.

Fr. Charles Kurgan, O. Carmelite (1938-2016)
Fr. Charles Kurgan, O. Carmelite (1938-2016)

The O. Carmelite priest spent 50 years serving God’s people in education, school administration and in health and human services. He spent the last 10 years at St. Therese Priory in Phoenix as prior of the area Carmelites.

Fr. Kurgan, who was known as Fr. Charlie, was born in Chicago and graduated from Joliet Catholic High School. He entered the Carmelite pre-novitiate at Mount Carmel College in Niagara Falls, Ontario and in 1958 entered the Carmelite novitiate in Pennsylvania. He made his solemn profession in 1963 and was ordained two years later.

Fr. Kurgan went on to earn a M.A. In liturgy and studied journalism, counseling and education.

“He always felt he could learn something more,” Fr. Tim O’Callaghan, O. Carmelite, said.

Teaching and related administrative positions took him to a Catholic high school in Kentucky, Phoenix’s Kino Catechetical Institute, Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson.

“Charlie not only taught literature and other subjects, but he decorated the classroom and had students live whatever era he was teaching,” Fr. O’Callaghan said.

Fr. Kurgan supported St. Agnes Parish, the diocesan Office of Liturgy and campus ministry at Mesa and Scottsdale community colleges. He also supervised a drug rehabilitation program for the City of Long Beach’s Health and Human Services.

Fr. Kurgan is survived by his brother, Frank, his sisters Patricia, Kathleen Hamby and Julie Flink plus nieces and nephews.