ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest who gained fame as half of an interfaith "God Squad" duo on television and in a syndicated column has died.
Monsignor Thomas J. Hartman died late Tuesday at a nursing home in Uniondale. His death at age 69 was confirmed by Bishop William Murphy, of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
Hartman had suffered from Parkinson's disease. He disclosed his diagnosis in a 2003 Tribune Media Services column.
"I'm used to asking God to help others, but now I need to ask God to help me to quiet the anxiety, to direct me to good doctors, to find peace," he told readers.
Hartman and Rabbi Marc Gellman teamed up as "The God Squad" on TV and radio and in print for 25 years. They started the program in 1987 on Cablevision and a decade later moved it to Telecare, the diocesan television channel.
At the height of their popularity, in the 1990s, they appeared regularly on ABC's "Good Morning America" and on Don Imus' "Imus in the Moring" radio show. They also co-wrote four books.
Newsday reported that Hartman once called himself "a parish priest with an ability in the media," adding, "What motivates me in the whole thing is prayer."
Gellman praised his longtime partner in a eulogy posted on Newsday's website on Wednesday.
"Knowing Tommy was like watching a diamond turn in the light," the rabbi said. "Each of us was privileged to see one or another facet of his holy life reflected into the world to bedazzle us with its love and kindness, its compassion and generosity, its sacrifice and its secrets."