Rev. John L. Seary, O.S.A. (1900 - 1989)
Rev. John L. Seary, O.S.A. entered eternal life on February 15, 1989.
John Leo Seary, Jr. was born on May 6, 1900 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to John Leo and Cecelia (Jordan) Seary. He was the youngest of ten children. He was baptized on May 27, 1900 at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Philadelphia. He received the Sacrament of Confirmation on May 26, 1910 at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church, Philadelphia.
After receiving his elementary education at St. Gregory and Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Schools, both in Philadelphia, John studied at St. Joseph College High School, Philadelphia. He then entered St. Rita Hall, the Augustinian minor seminary in Villanova, Pennsylvania, where he earned his high school diploma in 1918.
On June 27, 1919, John was received into the Augustinian Novitiate. He professed simple (temporary) vows in the Order of St. Augustine on June 29, 1920 and solemn (permanent) vows on December 12, 1923. He received a B.A. in Philosophy from Villanova University, Villanova, in 1923. He then pursued theological studies at Augustinian College, Washington, D.C. On August 29, 1926, he was ordained a priest.
The first assignment given to Father Seary was to St. Augustine High School (now known as Villanova Preparatory School), Ojai, California, in 1927. One year later, he was transferred to St. Rita High School, Chicago, Illinois, where he was a teacher and, beginning in 1930, Vice-Principal/Prefect of Studies.
In 1935, Father Seary was named Principal of St. Thomas High School, Rockford, Illinois. He also served as Prior (local superior) of the Augustinian community there. When the new Augustinian Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel (Augustinians of the Midwest) was formed in 1941, he was affiliated to that Province. He was also elected to the Council of the new Province.
Father Seary was assigned to the recently opened St. Monica High School Seminiary, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, in 1942. He was Prior of the Augustinian community there, and he also worked with the Augustinian Mission Band, which led spiritual retreats and preached parish missions throughout the United States. He was transferred in 1944 to Cascia Hall School, Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he served as Headmaster and Prior of the Augustinian Community.
In 1950, Father Seary returned to Chicago to found a new school, Mendel Catholic High School. When the school opened in 1951 on the former campus of the Pullman Free School of Manual Training, he became its first Principal as well as the Prior of the Augustinian community.
Father Seary was elected Provincial (regional leader) of the Midwest Province in 1956. He continued to reside at Mendel Monastery until the new major seminary, Tolentine Hall (later Tolentine College), Olympia Fields, Illinois, opened in 1958. This building contained living quarters and offices for the Provincial, so he relocated there.
At the conclusion of his second term as Provincial in 1962, Father Seary went to St. Clare of Montefalco Church, Chicago, where he was Assistant Pastor and Prior of the Augustinian community. In 1971, he retired from full-time ministry. He resided at Mendel Monastery, Chicago, where he continued to provide guidance to seminary support organizations such as the Men of Tolentine and the Ladies of Tolentine. He also ministered part-time at St. Walter Church, Chicago.
For a number of years, Father Seary's health had been deteriorating. He suffered several heart attacks. In 1988, he was assigned to St. Rita Monastery, Chicago. He died there peacefully on February 15, 1989 at the age of 88.
Father Seary enjoyed music. He was fond of reminding people of his early years as a popularizer of new sheet music. In addition to his delight in story telling and humorous reminiscing, he was noteworthy for founding the two seminary support groups, Men of Tolentine and Ladies of Tolentine, as well as founding Mendel Catholic High School.
Father Seary is buried in the Augustinian plot at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.