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Ordained April 18, 1936

Chicago, IL ( December 3, 2007 ) - Rev. Joseph Austin Graff, former pastor of Chicago’s St. Martin Parish, died on Friday, November 30, at age 96 due to complications from cancer.

A Superior, Wisconsin native, Fr. Graff was born on July 6, 1911, and shortly thereafter, was baptized at that city’s Sacred Heart Church. After relocating to Chicago with his family, Fr. Graff graduated from Holy Cross Elementary School in June, 1925, Quigley (North) Preparatory Seminary in May, 1930 and the University of St. Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary in May, 1936.

Fr. Graff was ordained a priest on April 18, 1936 and the following day celebrated his first solemn Mass at the now-closed St. Leo the Great Church. On July 6 he was named assistant pastor of Chicago’s St. Francis Xavier Parish, where he served until February 1942. Fr. Graff then began 24 years as a professor and teacher at both Quigley North and Quigley South high school preparatory seminaries. While an educator, Fr. Graff enrolled in postgraduate studies at DePaul University, the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, the American Academy of Art and Georgetown University. Between 1942 and 1963, Fr. Graff lived in residence at the following Chicago parishes: St. Martin, St. Anthony, St. John Berchmans, St. Gertrude and Christ the King.

In July 1963, Fr. Graff was appointed pastor of the now-closed St. Martin Parish, where he remained until 1970. Fr. Graff then taught art at Quigley South for three years before serving as associate pastor of St. Thomas More Parish from June 1973 to June 1976. In June 1978, he was named associate pastor of Park Forest’s St. Irenaeus Parish, and retired in 1981. Fr. Graff then assisted at various archdiocesan parishes before returning to St. Thomas More to live as a resident in January 1998.

Visitation for Fr. Graff will be from 3 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, December 4, at St. Thomas More Church, 2825 W. 81 st St., Chicago. Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, will be the main celebrant at a funeral Mass for Fr. Graff at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, December 5, at St. Thomas More Church. Interment will be at St. Mary Cemetery in Evergreen Park.

One of eight children, Fr. Graff is survived by two brothers and numerous nieces and nephews.

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