Fr. James Fanale, CSV, spent his last 23 years in parish ministry, but he brought his background as a writer and English teacher with him. It added up to a beloved pastor, whose homilies connected with people because of their storytelling and warmth.
Fr. Fanale passed away unexpectedly Oct. 13 at his home in rural St. Anne, IL. He was 77.
“Jim brought some of that same creative touch to his preaching and pastoral ministry,” says Fr. Patrick Render, CSV. “Storytelling and poetry always found their way into his work.”
Fr. Fanale first met the Viatorians at Griffin High School, back in his native Springfield, where he graduated in 1960. He would join the Viatorian Community one year later and was ordained a priest in 1969.
During his early years as a Viatorian, he pursued his passion for English literature, earning undergraduate and master’s degrees at Catholic University in Washington, before completing a Ph.D in medieval English literature at the University of Illinois.
He began his teaching career at Bishop McNamara High School in Kankakee, before moving to the college ranks, including St. Mary of the Woods College in Terre Haute, IN, and DePaul University in Chicago.
At the urging of the Viatorian Provincial at the time, Fr. Render, Fr. Fanale returned to the Province Center for the next six years to serve as archivist and to begin documenting the history of the Viatorian Community.
While completing meticulous research, Fr. Fanale discovered correspondence from Fr. Querbes that was in the archives of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet — which even the Viatorian archives in Rome did not know existed.
Ultimately, Fr. Fanale took over as pastor of St. Anne Parish in rural St. Anne, IL. In doing so, he carried on a 75-year legacy of Viatorian leadership in the parish, and caretaker of its historic shrine to St. Anne, which dated back more than 100 years.
By all accounts, Fr. Fanale loved both roles. He and his parishioners dutifully carried on the nine-day St. Anne Novena at the church, which was a major undertaking for his small parish but one they felt called to carry on.
“This is a place of grace, where many have found peace and healing,” Fr. Fanale adds. “What a wonderful intercession she is for all us who have come to St. Anne, with the sense that she knows just where we are in our lives. With the tender brush of her hand, we are her much loved children.”
Funeral services will took place at St. Anne Church, on the feast of St. Viator. At Fr. Fanale’s request, he went to his final resting place, at Calvary Cemetery in his native Springfield.