Reverend Francis E. McDonnell

  • Born: February 21, 1927
  • Died: November 14, 2019
  • Location: Rockford, Illinois

McDonald Funeral Home

1002 12th Avenue
Rock Falls, IL 61071

Tel. (815) 626-6311

Tribute & Message From The Family

STERLING – Reverend Francis E. McDonnell, 92 died Thursday November 14, 2019 at Presence Cor Marie Nursing Home in Rockford.

He was born on February 21, 1927 in Sterling, the son of Thomas Joseph and Margareth (Weber) McDonnell. He graduated from St. Mary Grade School and Community High School. He attended Lora College for one semester before entering St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore, MD. Father McDonnell was ordained by the Most Reverend John J. Boylan at St. Mary Parish in Sterling, Illinois on April 11, 1951. Father attended St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore, where he received a BA in 1947, his STB in 1949 as well as his Licentiate of Sacred Theology (STL) in 1951. He later attended the University of Notre Dame, where he received an MS in Philosophy. Father served for nine years with the Society of St. Sulpice, teaching in their seminaries. Father then served as a faculty member at Marmion Academy in Aurora. He also served as Chaplain of Mercyville in Aurora. He also served on the faculty at Roncalli High School in Aurora. He was appointed to be Moderator of the Catholic Interracial Council from 1964-1972. Father served Catholic Charities from 1964-1972, first as Assistant Director and then as Director. While in Rockford Father was also the Chaplain to Mount St. Francis Convent. Father was the Defender of the Bond for the Tribunal in 1968. He served as pastor of St. Patrick in Rockford from 1969-1983. In 1975 he was assigned as Pro-Synodal Judge for the Tribunal. In 1983 Father was assigned as Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Sterling, and retired there from active ministry on June 10, 1997

Survivors include his sister in laws, Helen McDonnell and Delores McDonnell; nieces and nephews including Meg (Leo) Bressanelli, Ann (Pat) McDonnell, Tom (Marie) McDonnell, Kate (Pat) Cavanagh, Sue (Jim) Olson, Patty Clark, Mike McDonnell, Rita (Rick) Kerley, John (Priscilla) McDonnell, Janet (John) Conneely, Joan (Jim) Sweeney, Tim (Kelly) McDonnell, and many great and great great nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers: Patrick, Dr. John, Dr. Thomas; a sister in law Eileen and a nephew Patrick.

Visitation will be held on Tuesday November 19, 2019 from 9 -11 AM at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Sterling. Celebration of the Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 11 AM. Burial will conclude at Calvary Cemetery in Sterling. Arrangements by McDonald Funeral Homes.
Memorials may be made in his memory to Newman Central Catholic Church and Sacred Catholic Church, Sterling.


Condolence & Memory Journal

Father McDonnell has many accomplishments in his life. I enjoyed him as my Pastor at Sacred Heart Parish as well as my Math teacher at Sauk Valley College. May he Rest In Peace.

Posted by Maru Papoccia - Sterling, IL - Family Friend   November 26, 2019

Dear Family of Father McDonnell, Please accept my sympathy and prayers on reading in The Observer about Father's death. I do not get the daily newspaper, so I did not realize that he had died until after the funeral was over. Otherwise, I would have been present at the funeral.

Father was a very good priest and good friend. He and my brother, Jim, were friends, too, as Jim was a graduate of Marmion Academy in Aurora, He was also Athletic Director of Aurora Central Catholic in Aurora when Father Frank taught there, so their paths crossed many times during their lives.

Father Frank was the "best of the best", and was always very priestly in his demeanor. I always admired his intelligence, as he gave great sermons. Now he is interceding for all of us before the throne of God. Be aware of little signs that he will send you to let you know that he is okay. I'm sure God allows this for those of us left on earth to miss them.

Be assured of daily remembrance in prayer as you give your loved one back to God.

With sympathy and prayers
Sister Philomene Reiland CSJ

Posted by Sister Philomene Reiland - Sterling, IL - Friend   November 22, 2019

Father McDonnell was a great Paster .
I've been a parishener at St.Pattrick"s in Rockford since 1968 . All of my six children attended school there from 1st to 8th grade. The parish flourished during his time .Besides taking care of all the priestly duties,there was much fun in the school gym and church basement. There was Friday night bingo, dances the corned beef and cabbage dinners and sports activities.
God Bless Him and may he rest in peace.
I will have a mass said for him at St Patrick's church.
My condolences to his family.
Louise Rodriguez

Posted by louise rodriguez - rockford, IL - Acquaintance   November 18, 2019