Fr. John Palmer, CSV, was one of a kind in the Viatorian Community. Not only was he a native of Nova Scotia, but he held multiple degrees in music and organ, and literally performed and taught around the world.

Fr. John Palmer, CSV

Fr. Palmer passed away on Sunday after being hospitalized on Friday. He was 81.

“Fr. Palmer was an extraordinary musician and a man of deep faith,” says Fr. Mark Francis, CSV, Provincial. “He was also an exceptional teacher whose students remember and appreciate him year after studying with him.”

Fr. Palmer’s classical training included earning an MA in Music at Northwestern University, a performance diploma for organ at Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, a Licentiate in piano and a Fellowship in organ, both from Trinity College of Music in London.

As a performer, Fr. Palmer gained recognition as an organist, giving recitals each year at Yorkminster Park Church, in Toronto, and as part of the distinguished artists series for CBC Radio in Canada. He also played at the Washington National Cathedral and the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

In New York, he had given several recitals at St Patrick’s Cathedral, St Thomas Church on 5th Avenue and at Columbia University. Overseas, he performed at several churches in England, including St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Fr. Palmer teaching a piano student in 2003 at Benedictine University.

Notably, Fr. Palmer served as professor of music at Benedictine University at Lisle, IL, where he taught from 1971 until he retired in 2004 as Professor Emeritus. Fr. Palmer also provided sacramental ministry on weekends at St. Petronille Parish in Glen Ellyn, IL from 1987 until 2020.

In 2022, Fr. Palmer moved to the Viatorian Province Center in Arlington Heights, where he lived among his retired confreres, taking part in daily Masses and evening prayers.

Visitation for Fr. Palmer will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Viatorian Province Center, followed at 11 a.m. by a Mass of Christian Burial. Interment will be at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside.