Rev. John J. Corbett, CSV, died Oct. 7, 1945 at Columbus Hospital in Chicago after a three year illness. He was 67.
Fr. Corbett was born Mar. 19, 1878 in Kidderminster, England in the Diocese of Birmingham.
At the age of 15, he won a Queen Victoria Scholarship prize that allowed him to visit the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, held in Chicago. While there, he made his home with an uncle.
The scholarship visit turned out to be a fateful one. Two years later, in 1895, he entered the Viatorian Novitiate located at Belmont and Crawford avenues in Chicago and professed his first vows on Jul. 2, 1898.
After concluding his noviceship, he was assigned to teach at Holy Name Cathedral School for boys in Chicago until 1902.
Fr. Corbett then was sent to St. Viator College in Bourbonnais to continue his studies for the priesthood. At the college, he also served as a member of the faculty and as prefect of the Junior Department. During this time, he professed his final vows on Jul. 4, 1908.
He was ordained to the priesthood on Dec. 23, 1911 and celebrated his first Mass at St. Edward’s Church in Chicago.
In 1912, Fr. Corbett was named treasurer of St. Viator College, and in 1918 he was named pastor of St. Edward’s Church. There, he erected a rectory and the basement chapel of the future church.
Fr. Corbett went on to be appointed in 1931 as pastor of St. Viator Church in Chicago. Although his pastorate fell upon the trying years of the Great Depression, he won the esteem and appreciation of the parishioners. He loved the people and he served them with sympathy and understanding.
In 1938, Fr. Corbett was assigned to the chaplaincies of Kankakee and Manteno State hospitals for the mentally ill. Here, he won the appreciation of the patients and the acclaim of hospital authorities.
During the last three years of his life, Fr. Corbett suffered from an illness which forced him to discontinue his priestly ministries. He did so with courage, high spirits and serenity until the end.
Fr. Corbett’s body laid in state at Theis Funeral Home in Chicago on Oct. 8 until transferred to St. Viator Church. On Oct. 9, throngs of parishioners from St. Edward’s and St. Viator’s churches paid their grateful tribute of respect to their former pastor as he laid in state at St. Viator Church.
Funeral services were held at St. Viator Church on Oct. 10. The Rev. Richard J. French, CSV, provincial of the Viatorians, celebrated the solemn requiem Mass, and the Rev. Stephen McMahon, pastor of the Church of the Little Flower in Chicago, gave the sermon.
Fr. Corbett was laid to rest in the Viatorian Community plot at Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cemetery in Bourbonnais. Gravesite services were conducted by the Rev. Walter J. Surprenant, CSV, former provincial and pastor at Maternity BVM Church in Bourbonnais.