Rev. Francis R. McDonnell, O.S.A. (1913 - 2004)
Rev. Francis R. McDonnell, O.S.A., 90, entered eternal life on February 23, 2004. His death took place at Mother Theresa Home, Lemont, Illinois. He had recently been released from the hospital after being treated for congestive heart failure and pneumonia.
Francis Raymond McDonnell was born on October 11, 1913 in Centralia, Pennsylvania to Thomas and Mary (Cray) McDonnell. He was baptized on October 19, 1913 at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Centralia. He received the Sacrament of Confirmation on May 14, 1922 at the same church.
After finishing his primary education at St. Ignatius Catholic School, Centralia, Frank studied for three years at St. Ignatius High School, which did not offer a fourth year curriculum. He transferred to Conyngham Township High School, Aristes, Pennsylvania, for his senior year, earning his high school diploma there in 1932. He studied at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1933 and 1934. He then entered the Augustinian program of formation at Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, New York, where he studied Latin during 1934 and 1935.
Frank was received into the Augustinian Novitiate on September 9, 1935, professed simple (temporary) vows in the Order of St. Augustine on September 10, 1936, and professed solemn (permanent) vows on September 10, 1939. He was ordained a priest on May 28, 1942.
Upon profession of vows, Frank studied at Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania, earning a B.A. in Philosophy in 1939. He did his theological studies at Augustinian College, Washington, D.C., from 1939 to 1943. During those years, he also studied at Catholic University of America, Washington, earning an M.A. in Education in 1943.
The first assignment given to Father McDonnell was in 1943 to St. Rita High School, Chicago, where he was a teacher, Assistant Chaplain and Vocations Director. He was named Assistant Pastor of St. Mary Parish, Rockford, Illinois, in 1949.
After this, Father McDonnell was assigned to Austin Catholic High School, Detroit, Michigan, in 1953 and served as teacher, Chairperson of the Religion Department, and Director of Athletics. He returned to St. Rita High School in 1961 as a teacher and Chairperson of the Religion Department.
In 1971, Father McDonnell went to St. Clare of Montefalco Parish, Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan. He was Associate Pastor there for two years and was named Pastor in 1973. He was then assigned as Mission Procurator in 1979 and moved to Tolentine Center, Olympia Fields, Illinois, the headquarters of the Augustinian Midwest Province. In this office, he was responsible for raising funds to support work of the Augustinian Missions in northern Peru.
In 1982, Father McDonnell returned to St. Clare of Montefalco Parish, Grosse Pointe Park, where he was Associate Pastor. He assumed similar duties at St. Joseph Parish, Pekin, Illinois, in 1989. He was again assigned to St. Clare of Montefalco in 1994, serving as Associate Pastor there until his retirement in 1995. He continued to live in the Augustinian Community at St. Clare until 2001, when he was assigned to Our Lady of Grace Community, Homer Glen, Illinois.
Father McDonnell is remembered as a good and authentic community man. He was approachable and had a gentle way of discussing even firmly held viewpoints without putting down those who saw things differently. He was also insightful and had an ample supply of common sense. Father McDonnell was a voracious reader and an avid sports fan. His faith was a strong constant as advancing years brought declining strength and new challenges into his life.
Father McDonnell is buried in the Augustinian plot at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Alsip, Illinois.