John F Loviner, OFM
1896 – 1970
Fr. John Forest Loviner, OFM, was born on the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, June 13, 1896, in Columbus, Ohio. His parents died while he was still a child, and he was raised in St. Vincent Orphanage in Columbus. In 1912, supported by the Franciscan Sisters of Stella Niagara, John went off to St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y.
In 1916, he was received as a novice and professed temporary vows the following year. Fr. John made his solemn profession of vows in 1920 and was ordained a priest in 1923 at St. Joseph Cathedral, Buffalo, N.Y.
At the direction of his superiors, Fr. John initiated St. Anthony’s Guild the year after his ordination, working from St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J., with volunteers who wrote and typed letters asking for financial support for seminarians and missionaries. He purchased a building at 389 Main Street in Paterson and in 1927 began publication of The Anthonian.
The guild print shop, which opened in 1930, became one of the largest producers of catechetical literature in the United States. Over 800 titles in theology, philosophy, history, and hagiography were published. The National Catholic Almanac was published by the guild from 1936 to 1971.
Fr. John moved the guild to 508 Marshall Street, where more than 200 people were employed. He distributed over 700,000 pieces of religious literature to the armed forces and sent Bibles and other religious books to missionaries all over the world.
As early as 1937, Fr. John had begun an experimental farm in Lafayette, N.J., to improve farm animals and farm products in the hope he could help missions in South America. In 1955, he completed the dream of St. Raphael’s novitiate constructed in Lafayette.
Fr. John was a man of vision with a talent for doing the right thing and the courage to take risks. His ministry continues to be a major support for the sick and aged friars of Holy Name Province, as well as for those in formation and in the missions.
He died Sept. 12, 1970, at Umbrian Farms, Lafayette, where he lived. Fr. John was 74 years old, a professed friar for 53 years and a priest for 47 years.