Monsignor Peter Gomez Armstrong (1929-2009)

San Francisco Chronicle
November 21, 2009

Monsignor Peter Gomez Armstrong died at AlmaVia San Rafael, on November 17, 2009. Born in San Francisco on April 9, 1929, he was the son of Harold Thomas and Juanita Gomez Armstrong. Peter attended St. Brigid's School, San Francisco, and graduated from St. Ignatius High School. He underwent his studies for the priesthood at St. Joseph's College, Mountain View, and St. Patrick's Seminary, Menlo Park. He was ordained on June 11, 1954. His pastoral ministry began as associate pastor at St. Pius Parish, Redwood City. He earned a master's degree in social work at The Catholic University of America and was assigned in the Archdiocese of San Francisco to the Catholic Youth Organization (C.Y.O), where he soon became director and sported a new license plate, "CYO #1."

In the course of his youth work, he expanded sports programs and teen missions in the Bay Area. A special achievement was his transformation of neglected acreage near Occidental into a state-of-the-art facility that gave poor urban children camping experience under the redwoods. In 1962 he was the driving force in developing an innovative retreat program for high-school students called the "Search for Christian Maturity," in which they explored their faith together and gave public witness to their peers, and four years later this process of evangelization became the official retreat program for the country. Many future leaders in public service emerged from this experience, notably Mike Nevin, former mayor of Daly City and former San Mateo County Supervisor. Peter's special assignments were as director of the Boy's Home at 1000 Fulton Street, San Francisco, that integrated troubled teens into the City's high schools and as director of the historic St. Vincent's School for Boys in San Rafael. A superb administrator of assets and personnel with nerves of steel, Peter took on several sensitive appointments that included the chairmanship of the Planning Commission charged with the consolidation of Archdiocesan institutions and several general chairmanships of fundraising campaigns for the Archdiocese. For years he was an unofficial liaison between the Archdiocese and the City and County of San Francisco, having served on Parks and Recreation Commission and through his personal friendships with Mayors Joe Alioto, George Moscone and Dianne Feinstein. His last pastoral appointment was to serve as pastor of St. Pius Parish, Redwood City, where he became affectionately known as "Mons". His congregation grew under his vivacious leadership and it was here that he graciously hosted Monsignor Michael Fitzsimon in retirement and began planning of a new multi-purpose facility dedicated to Peter's old friend and founding pastor. In addition to his Church work, he served also as the Catholic chaplain of the San Francisco 49ers, having earned five Super Bowl rings as a member of the "team of the eighties." He also delighted in being the friend and pastor of the late Buzz and the late Sue Burns, principal owners and senior general partners of the San Francisco Giants. Peter was an avid traveler who enjoyed traveling the world with friends and family. After retiring in 2001, he shared a home with his dear friend Monsignor Jack O'Hare in Kenwood and later moved to AlmaVia of San Rafael. His brother Harold predeceased him, and he leaves behind his sister-in-law Betty Byrnes, and nine nieces and nephews, namely, Liz Barrett, Hank Armstrong, the late Peter Armstrong, Terry Barmore, Barbara Soboleski, Cathy Donahue, Mary Kennaugh, Patty Armstrong, and Tim Armstrong.

Friends may visit after 4:00pm, Monday, November 23rd at St. Pius Church, 1100 Woodside Road., Redwood City where a Vigil Service will be held at 7:00pm. A Funeral Mass will be Celebrated Tuesday, November 24th at 11:00am St. Pius Church followed by a reception. Interment Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma. Donations may be made to Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), Catholic Charities, St. Pius School Endowment or your favorite charity. Condolences at


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