Father Henry Fritz

Father Henry Fritz

Born: Chicago, Illinois, April 3, 1925

Professed: July 11, 1946

Ordained: May 22, 1952

Died: July 6, 2014

Reverend Henry Fritz, O.S.B. monk and priest of St. Bede Abbey in Peru, IL, died Sunday morning, July 6, 2014, at St. Margaret’s Hospital, Spring Valley, several days after suffering a severe stroke.

Henry Harold Fritz was born April 3, 1925, the son of Henry E. and Marie (Nilles) Fritz, in Chicago, Illinois.  The family moved to Pontiac in 1926, where Henry entered St. Mary’s Grade School and worked a variety of farm jobs.  After attending high school and college at Saint Bede, where he was very much involved in religious activities and athletics, he entered the novitiate at St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville MN in 1945.  He received a BA from St. John’s University and a master’s in economics from Notre Dame, with additional studies in guidance and counseling during summer session at Loyola University, Chicago.  He made is first profession of vows on July 11, 1946, took his solemn vows on July 11, 1949, and was ordained a priest May 22, 1952.

In addition to the usual duties as prefect in the boarding department, Fr. Henry taught history, political science and economics at Saint Bede Academy from 1952 until 1977, when he was appointed principal.  He also served as guidance counselor, yearbook moderator and softball coach, and even did a stint as band director.  He was often in demand as an umpire or referee at sporting events.  An able if sometimes irascible administrator, Fr. Henry is credited with instituting the annual dinner auction in support of the Academy.

In 1985 he began a series of parish assignments throughout the Peoria diocese, including assistant, St. Mary, Pontiac, 1985; pastor, St. Peter, Peoria, 1986; St. Francis, Kewanee, and St. John, Cambridge, 1987 and again in 2010-2012; associate, St. Joseph, Peru, 1994; pastor, St. Joseph, Peru, and administrator, St. Mary, Peru, 2001;  and pastor, St. Benedict, Ladd, 2005.  In his parochial work, Fr. Henry was often called upon to make difficult decisions which were both unpopular and utterly necessary.  His wisdom and persistence were always rewarded with the eventual gratitude and genuine affection of the parishioners.  He retired to the abbey in 2012.

In his final years at the abbey, Fr. Henry suffered greatly from arthritis, which he bore with his characteristic stoicism.  His crusty exterior masked a compassionate heart, demonstrated by his regular visits to confreres at St. Joseph’s Nursing Home. He greatly missed his parish ministry and maintained an avid interest in diocesan affairs, keeping in regular contact with clergy and former parishioners from all over the region.

He is preceded in death by his parents and one sister, Mary Lenore Braddy.  He is survived by two sisters, Dolores Coughlin, of Chicago and Marilyn Weber of Pontiac, and by his monastic brethren.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on July 9 at 4 p.m. in the Saint Bede Abbey Church.  The Right Reverend Philip Davey, abbot of Saint Bede, was celebrant and homilist.

We are grateful for the suffrages you will offer for our deceased confrere, and we promise faithful remembrance of your deceased.

Abbot Philip Davey, O.S.B. and community

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