Remembering Bishop John McNabb, O.S.A. (1925 - 2016)

It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that Bishop John C. McNabb, O.S.A., passed away the morning of February 26, 2016, at the age of 90.  Bishop McNabb was one of the last surviving American bishops to attend the Second Vatican Council.  He devoted decades of his life to founding the Diocese of Chulucanas in Northern Peru.  He ordained several Augustinians to the diaconate and priesthood including our current Prior Provincial.

John was born on December 11, 1925, in Beloit, Wisconsin to Clarence and Noreen McNabb.  He met the Augustinians when he attended St. Thomas High School in Rockford, Illinois.  He entered the Order of St. Augustine as a Novice on September 9, 1944, and made his first vows on September 10, 1945.  He made his solemn profession in the Order on September 10, 1948.

Bishop McNabb held a B.A. in Philosophy and an M.S. in Library Science from Villanova University.  He had an M.Ed. from DePaul University in Chicago.  He completed his theological studies at Augustinian College in Washington D.C. and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop John Boylan of Rockford on May 24, 1952.

He served as a teacher and administrator at Mendel Catholic High School in Chicago from 1953 to 1959.  He was Secretary of the Province from 1959 to 1961.  In 1961, he became the first Rector of Augustinian Academy in St. Louis.  The following year, he was named Principal of Mendel Catholic High School, a position he held until 1964.  It was then that his life was turned upside down.  In his memoirs, Led Where I Did Not Plan to GoBishop McNabb explains how he received the call to become a Missionary Bishop to Chulucanas, Peru - and he didn't even know Spanish!

He was named the first Prelate of Chulucanas by Pope Paul VI in 1964.  Three years later, on June 17, 1967, he was ordained a bishop.  He was a member of Vatican Council II - one of the few surviving members of that council.  In 1989, 25 years after the creation of the Prelature, Pope (now Saint) John Paul II raised Chulucanas to the status of a diocese.  Bishop McNabb served as Ordinary of the Diocese until his mandatory retirement age of 75, when he submitted his resignation to the Pope.  He became Bishop Emeritus in 2000.  He is well known for establishing a pastoral plan for his diocese in the spirit of Vatican II with tremendous participation from the laity and the clergy.

What a joy is must have been for him to have one of his former students as his successor.  He along with two other consecrating bishops, Archbishop of Piura Oscar Cantuarias and the Papal Nuncio of Peru Fortunato Baldelli, ordained Dan Turley O.S.A., as the second Bishop of Chulucanas.

Bishop John McNabb, O.S.A., ordains Dan Turley, O.S.A., to the Episcopate

While Bishop McNabb could have retired to a quiet life in the monastery, he took on the Pastorate of St. Clare of Montefalco in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, from 2002 to 2006.  He then entered retirement at Tolentine Center and then at Siena Center in Rockford in 2010.  In 2012, he published his memoirs Led Where I Did Not Plan to Go.  In 2013, Bishop McNabb was honored at the Augustinians' first annual Augustinian Gala at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago.  In early 2016, he moved to Mercy Circle in Chicago, where he later died the morning of February 26.

Bishop McNabb with his family and friends at the 2013 Augustinian Gala

Funeral Arrangements

  • Lying-in-State on Friday, March 4, 2016 from 3:00 PM- 7:30 PM at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel, 7740 S. Western Ave., Chicago, IL 60620.
  • Liturgical Wake Service Friday, March 4, 2016 at 7:30 PM with Archbishop Blase Cupich presiding.
  • Lying-in-State on Saturday, March 5, 2016 from 9:00 AM-10:00 AM at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel.
  • Office of the Dead at 10:00 AM
  • Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 AM
  • Interment in Chulucanas, Peru to be scheduled.

Funeral Info at Heeney Funeral Home: 708-636-5500

Updated February 29, 2016


Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy has been working with the Augustinians in fundraising and communications since 2010. He began working with the Augustinian Vocations office in 2015. He also holds a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management.