Rev. William G. Smith was born in 1951 to Anthony and Veronica (Coffey) Smith in Jackson Heights, N.Y.. He attended Cathedral Preparatory Seminary (Elmhurst) and Immaculate Conception College Seminary (Douglaston), graduating in 1973 with a B.A. in Philosophy. After a year working in a pharmacy in Winston Salem, N.C., he entered the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception (Huntington). He was ordained to the Diaconate in January 1978, assigned to St Edmund’s Church (Homecrest, Brooklyn) and ordained to the Priesthood on March 31, 1979.
He was appointed a Parochial Vicar (Associate) at St. Saviors Church, Park Slope that summer and to Corpus Christi Woodside in 1984. While at St. Saviors, he met Msgr. Charles Diviney, a former pastor of St. Charles Borromeo, who became a friend and mentor. He was very happy that the first Mass he celebrated at St. Charles was on June 28th, the 17th Anniversary of his death.
In 1996, he was appointed Pastor of Holy Rosary Church (Bedford Stuyvesant). He was also, at various times, administrator of St. Peter Claver and Our Lady of Good Counsel. In 2007, he was appointed Pastor of St. Pascal Baylon Church (St. Albans). The following year St Pascal’s was merged with St. Catherine of Sienna (also in St. Albans) to form Our Lady of Light Parish with Fr. Smith as the founding pastor. He has been associated with Metro IAF, a community organizing group, for over 20 years, was the first Dean of the local Catholic Parishes and sat on the board of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation.
Over his 6 years at St. Charles, Fr. Smith lead the parish through many challenges – addressing the needs of students, professionals, and young families, surviving the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing ties to the community, neighboring churches, and the work of Catholic Charities. An emergency food pantry was set up at the church to assist the work of the nearby Catholic Charities headquarters, particularly with the needs of asylees.
Fr. Smith retired as pastor in 2023; his last Mass at St. Charles was also on June 28th of that year, the anniversary of Msgr. Diviney’s passing.