Obituary for Father Philip M. Tighe


Tues., Sept. 8, 10 a.m., Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral | Details

Watch livestream | Download Funeral Mass Order of Service (PDF)

Father Philip Marian Tighe, who dedicated his life to service as a priest of the Catholic Church, died Monday, August 31, 2020, following an almost two-year journey with esophageal cancer. He was lovingly surrounded by family at the time of his death. He was 57.

Philip was born November 18, 1962, in Anniston, Alabama, to John Joseph Tighe and Jean Patricia Harrigan Tighe. He was the youngest of seven children, and spent most of his childhood in Southern Pines, North Carolina.

As a boy he enjoyed the outdoors, where he could be found fishing, mowing the grass and playing sports such as football and tennis. With a great appreciation for music, he played the trombone in school band and also learned to play piano, a skill his grandmother helped him to hone.

As part of a large, Catholic family, Phil learned the value of praying the rosary, working as a team, sharing meals and wearing hand-me-down clothes. He earned his Eagle Scout rank at just 14 years old. His parents passed along to their children a love of the sea and sailing, which Phil would carry with him throughout his life. 

He earned a B.S. in business administration from The Citadel (Charleston, South Carolina) in 1985 and an M.B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1990. He worked for Merrill Lynch in Charleston and, later, IBM in Raleigh, North Carolina.

A vocation to the priesthood had occupied his thoughts for many years, and in 1998 he began formal discernment at Theological College, the national seminary of The Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.), where he studied and earned a master’s of divinity.

He was ordained to the priesthood June 24, 2000, at Sacred Heart Church in Pinehurst, North Carolina. As a priest, he was known for his devotion to the sacraments and ability to serve people in need of pastoral care. A good day was any day he “got one up on the devil.”

As a priest of the Diocese of Raleigh in eastern North Carolina, he served as parochial vicar at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Cary (2000-2002) before traveling to Bolivia for a Spanish language immersion program. He worked at Immaculate Conception Parish and its missions near Clinton (2003 – 2005), Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Rocky Mount (2005 – 2007), St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Wake Forest (2007 – 2018) and the Doggett Center at N.C. State University in Raleigh. In 2016 he was appointed diocesan vocations director, a role he held until his death.

On his Caring Bridge website page, where he shared details of his faith, his puppy named “Dutch” and cancer treatment, Father Phil described himself simply as a “happy priest.” Indeed, for those who knew him, the holy sacrifice of the Mass -- which he celebrated daily, even while aboard a 50-foot sailboat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean -- was most important in his life, as was his family.

Father Philip Tighe was preceded in death by his parents and brother John Tighe. He is survived by siblings Peg Campbell, Tom Tighe (Carol), Pat Tighe (Kitty), Tim Tighe (Robin) and Bill Tighe (Mary Ellen.)

The reception of the body, prayer and vigil will be held Monday, September 7, at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral in Raleigh. Reception of the Body begins at 10 a.m. and visitation continues until 8 p.m. Vigil begins at 6 p.m. A funeral Mass will be held Tuesday, September 8, at 10 a.m. at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral. Interment takes place the same day, at approximately 2 p.m. at St. Anthony of Padua Parish Cemetery on Camp Easter Road in Southern Pines.

The funeral Mass will be streamed live via the Diocese of Raleigh’s YouTube channel. Watch livestream (If link does not work, go to

Please note that the faithful who attend funeral liturgies in person are asked to observe and maintain proper social distancing. This includes maintaining six feet of distance between you and others outside of your immediate family/household, wearing a face-covering or mask and using provided hand sanitizer upon entry to the cathedral.

Due to the pandemic, Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral has a limited capacity for the faithful to attend funeral liturgies in person. Once capacity has been reached, the faithful will be invited to access the live broadcast online or listen to the audio outside of cathedral.

During his life, Father Tighe founded a fund to provide financial assistance for the training of servers assisting in the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite and seminarian training in the Latin Mass. To donate to that fund, visit and select the Diocese: Summorum Pontificum Endowment Fund from the dropdown menu.