1888 – 1979 (October 8)
Walter Gabriel Rafter was born on July 20, 1888, to Walter Rafter and Barbara Gabriel. In September, 1904 he entered Villanova Preparatory from Flushing, New York. He was received into the novitiate on July 4. 1907; professed his first vows on July 6, 1908. Following profession, he was sent to Rome for studies and there professed solemn vows on October 18, 1911. He was ordained to the priesthood in Rome on July 25, 1913, and soon after returned to the United States.
Father Rafter was first assigned as a professor of classics at Villanova College in September, 1913. He was appointed prior and headmaster at Malvern Preparatory in August, 1926. His next assignment was as prior and professor of Moral Theology at Augustinian College. Father Rafter served briefly as Secretary of the Province (1936-1938).
Father Rafter spent many years in service to our parishes. His first parochial assignment was as a parish assistant at Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, Atlantic City (1935-1938). He, thereafter, was appointed pastor and prior to Saint Denis parish, Havertown (1938-1944); Our Mother of Good Counsel parish, Bryn Mawr (1944-1950); and Our Lady of Good Counsel parish, Staten Island (1950-1953).
In 1943 Father Rafter became the prior to the novitiate community in New Hamburg where he served for three years. He returned to parish ministry in 1956 as prior and pastor for Saint Joseph parish, Greenwich. He next served as an assistant at Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, Atlantic City (1958-1959).
In 1959, at age 71, Father Rafter was transferred to Saint Thomas Monastery and he returned to teaching Latin and Greek as a faculty member of the University. In July, 1965 he accepted an assignment as an assistant to Saint Thomas of Villanova parish, Rosemont. He retired first in August, 1967. However, he briefly returned as an assistant to Our Lady of Good Counsel parish, Staten Island, in 1969.
In 1970, because of his advanced years, Father Rafter retired to Saint Thomas of Villanova Monastery. Father Rafter died on October 8, 1979, at age 91, at the Villa of Divine Providence, Lansdale, PA. The funeral was held at Villanova on Wednesday evening, October 10, 1979 with burial the following morning in the cemetery adjoining Saint Mary’s Hall. His remains were later transported to the Augustinian section of Calvary Cemetery in West Conshohocken, PA.