ARCHDIOCESAN PRIEST, REV. JOHN F. McGRATH, DIES
Chicago, IL (February 15, 2012) – Rev. John F. McGrath, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, died Sunday, February 12, at Holy Family Villa in Palos Park. Fr. McGrath was 91 years of age and a resident senior priest at St. Thomas More Parish in Chicago.
Fr. McGrath was a Chicago native, one of 12 children in a family living on the city’s southwest side. He graduated from St. Gabriel School and Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary. He was ordained by Cardinal Stritch in 1944, following his graduation from the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary.
His first three years as a priest were spent as assistant pastor of St. Angela Parish in Chicago, which is now closed. For eight years, from 1947 to 1955, Fr. McGrath was assistant pastor of St. Benedict in Blue Island. Over the next decade, he served as assistant pastor for five years at St. Barnabas Parish and then for five years at St. Gall. From 1965 to 1971, he was the assistant pastor at Queen of Angels on the north side.
In 1971, Fr. McGrath received permission to work in parish ministry in the Diocese of Denver. He returned to Chicago in 1984 as associate pastor of St. Cletus Parish in LaGrange, where he remained until his retirement in 1990. From 1993 until just before his death, Fr. McGrath was a senior priest residing at St. Thomas More Parish in Chicago.
Fr. Anthony Brankin, who knew Fr. McGrath when they both served at St. Thomas More, described Fr. McGrath as studious, going about his work in a quiet way. According to his sister, Sally McGrath Leighton, her brother had a great sense of humor and liked to ski. She noted that he taught himself to play the piano in the seminary and was a voracious reader. His classmate, Fr. Charles Gallagher, pastor emeritus of St. Cletus, confirmed Fr. McGrath’s sense of humor noting classmates called Fr. McGrath “Happy Jack.” “He was a priest with a ‘helping heart’ whose many kindnesses toward people were often hidden and who gave freely of himself,” Gallagher said.
Visitation for Fr. McGrath will take place from 3 to 9 p.m. on Friday, February 17, at St. Thomas More Church, 2825 West 81st. Street in Chicago. Retired Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Goedert will be the main celebrant at a funeral Mass for Fr. McGrath at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 18, at St. Thomas More. Fr. Brankin, now pastor of St. Odilo Parish in Berwyn, will deliver the homily.
Interment is private. Fr. McGrath is survived by his sister and many nieces and nephews.