Viatorians around the world are mourning the passing of Fr. Francis White, CSV, the oldest living Viatorian. He passed away June 7 at the Province Center in Arlington Heights. He was 97.White with Medal

“Some people leave footprints,” said Fr. Thomas von Behren, CSV, provincial. “Fr. White left a permanent impression on people’s hearts.”

Just last year, Fr. White celebrated his 70th jubilee as a priest, and this year he was in his 78th year of religious life.

During a 2011 interview at the Province Center, as he approached 75 years in vows, Fr. White reflected on his calling to religious life, and in particular why he was drawn to the Viatorians.

Fr. White leads a procession at the Viatorian school in Kyoto, Japan, circa 1949

Fr. White leads a procession at the Viatorian school in Kyoto, Japan, circa 1949

“Someone has to ask you,” he said simply.

In his case, it was Br. Charles Carlon, CSV, who taught him at Cathedral Boys High School and saw his potential.

“He knew I was working to pay my tuition, so he asked me to think about the novitiate,” Fr. White recalled. “I didn’t plan on going to college. I thought I’d become a bookkeeper.”

Instead, he took his first vows as a Viatorian in 1937 and was ordained a priest in 1944. Fr. White earned a bachelor’s degree in Latin and a master’s degree in school administration, and served in schools and parishes in New York, Springfield, Peoria and Las Vegas. He even served as the principal of a Viatorian school that opened in Kyoto, Japan.

Before retirement, Fr. White served as pastor of St. Viator Catholic Community and as associate pastor of Guardian Angel Cathedral, both in Las Vegas.

“The people in Las Vegas absolutely loved him,” said Fr. von Behren. “He was a giant of a Viatorian.”

A funeral Mass will take place at 10:30 a.m. June 12 at the Province Center in Arlington Heights, as well as a memorial Mass at 6 p.m. June 16 at St. Viator Catholic Community in Las Vegas. Fr. Thomas von Behren, CSV, provincial will preside at both Masses. Fr. White will be buried in the Viatorian plot at Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery in Hillside, IL.