LaSalle O’Friel, OFM
1928 – 2006
Fr. LaSalle O’Friel, OFM, was born on Aug. 9, 1928, in Altoona, Pa. Sometime in the late 1930s, the O’Friel family attended a parish mission at St. Leo’s preached by the late Fr. Brendan Lyons, OFM. In several of his conferences, Fr. Brendan emphasized the importance of responding to God’s call in life. His words made so much of an impression that four of the O’Friel children eventually responded to that call by entering religious life: Fr. LaSalle, his older brothers, Frs. Zachary O’Freil, OFM, and Demetrius O’Friel, OFM, and his younger sister.
In 1946, Fr. LaSalle entered St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y. He was received into the Province’s novitiate in 1948 at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., and professed first vows there the following year. Fr. LaSalle made his solemn profession in 1952 at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C. In 1954, he was ordained a priest in the Church of Mount St. Sepulchre, Washington.
Fr. LaSalle’s first assignment was as parochial vicar to St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street in New York City. In 1964, he was appointed guardian and pastor of St. Patrick Church and Friary in Buffalo, N.Y. In 1970, he joined the provincial retreat band, residing at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson and the House of Prayer at St. Joseph’s Seminary. In 1977, he became retreat master, residing at St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., until 2006.
A man of many talents, he was a popular retreat master and spiritual adviser. Fr. LaSalle’s commitment to Franciscan life shone through his work in pastoral ministry. Hundreds of religious throughout the eastern United States were impressed with his sincere, direct style of preaching and counseling.
He died Nov. 6, 2006, at St. Clare’s Hospital in Denville, N.J. Fr. LaSalle was 78 years old, a professed friar for 57 years and a priest for 52 years. His brothers, Fr. Zachary and Fr. Demetrius, both preceded him in death.