Reverend Thomas C. McNeff Dies
Pastor of St. Jane De Chantal Parish
Chicago, IL (December 3, 2009) – Rev. Thomas McNeff, pastor since 2007 of St. Jane de Chantal Parish in Chicago, died on Wednesday, December 2, at McNeal Hospital in Berwyn of cancer. He was 60 years old.
Fr. McNeff was a native Chicagoan and attended public elementary and secondary schools, including two years at City College of Chicago, before enrolling in Niles College at Loyola University. He graduated from the University of St. Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary and was ordained by John Cardinal Cody in 1977.
Deacon Richard Hudzik credits Fr. McNeff with being very welcoming. “His chief interest was to make people feel at home. He was all about openness and welcoming,” Hudzik said. Hudzik, who later worked with Fr. McNeff in adult education at St. Maria Goretti Parish while studying for the permanent deaconate, said that Fr. McNeff had great interest in the liturgy and in doing everything possible to enhance the church environment to enrich the liturgical experience for his parishioners.
His concern for his parishioners continued even during his illness, according to his classmate, Fr. Joseph Mol, of St. Patricia Parish in Hickory Hills. “Even when he was sick,” Fr. Mol said, “he was concerned for the people in the parish that all the liturgies would be covered, especially the regular Family Mass with the children.” Fr. Mol also noted that Fr. McNeff enjoyed working with youth and had a special attention and concern for troubled young people. “He was generous and charitable,” said Fr. Mol, “and also simple and quiet.” According to Fr. Mol and his family, Fr. McNeff best summed up his own life when he said, “I’m just a priest learning to live the Gospel.”
For three years beginning in 1977, Fr. McNeff served as associate pastor of Our Lady of Loretto Parish in Hometown, and then became the associate director of Campus Ministry at the University of Illinois’ Circle Campus for two years.
From 1982, until he was named pastor of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Schiller Park in 1995, Fr. McNeff served as associate pastor at St. Fabian in Bridgeview, St. Rosalie in Harwood Heights, St. Anne in Hazel Crest, St. Cajetan on the southwest side and St. Terrence in Alsip.
For a brief period at the beginning of 2007, Fr. McNeff was associate pastor at St. George Parish in Tinley Park. In July of 2007, he was named pastor of St. Jane de Chantal Parish and was serving in that capacity at the time of his death.
Visitation for Fr. McNeff will take place from 3 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, December 3, at St. Jane de Chantal Church, 5252 South Austin Avenue in Chicago. Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, will be the main celebrant at a funeral Mass for Fr. McNeff at 12 p.m. on Friday, December 4, at St. Jane de Chantal. Deacon Richard Hudzik will deliver the homily.
Fr. McNeff is survived by four brothers, one sister, three stepbrothers and a stepsister. Inurnment will be at Holy Sepulchre Mausoleum of the Archangels in Alsip.