Theodore F. Lehr, OFM
1930 – 2008
Fr. Theodore Lehr, OFM, was born on Nov. 11, 1930, in Elmhurst, N.Y. He entered St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., in 1945. Since his brother was already a student there, hisa family nick-name of “Jahdsie” entered with him: It was the name by which he was affectionately known among the friars for the rest of his life.
Fr. Theodore was received into Holy Name Province Aug. 12, 1950, at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J., where he professed first vows Aug. 13, 1951. After completing philosophy studies at St. Stephen’s in Croghan, N.Y., and St. Anthony’s in Butler, N.J., he studied theology at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C. He professed solemn vows Aug. 13, 1954, at Christ the King Seminary in Allegany, N.Y. He was ordained a priest Sept. 8, 1956 in the church of the Franciscan Monastery, Mount St. Sepulchre, in Washington, D.C.
Upon completing theological studies in 1957, Fr. Theodore spent a pastoral internship year at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, and then one year as parochial vicar at Assumption Parish in Wood-Ridge, N.J. He then moved back home to New York City, serving from 1959 to 1963 as parochial vicar at St. Francis of Assisi Church.
Like so many friars of Holy Name Province, Fr. Theodore had an inspiring military record. For five years, from 1963 until 1968, he was a U.S. Navy chaplain. And for another five years, from 1968 until 1973, he was vice chancellor of the Military Ordinariate in New York City, residing at St. Francis Friary.
The last 35 years of Fr. Theodore’s ministry were devoted almost exclusively to parishes in Northern New Jersey. He was pastor of St. Catherine Parish in Ringwood, from 1973 to 1979. He returned to St. Francis Friary in New York City from 1976 until 1979, serving as associate provincial promoter of the missions. He returned once again to New Jersey in 1979, ministering as parochial vicar at Assumption Parish in Wood-Ridge until 1982, and then, from 1982 until 1987, at Sacred Heart Parish in Rochelle Park, N.J. He served for a few months at St. Joseph’s Parish in West Milford, N.J., before going to Elmwood Park, N.J., where he was parochial vicar at St. Leo’s Parish from 1987 to June 2005.
Fr. Theodore dedicated his Franciscan life to parish ministry. He brought a warm presence to fraternal life and showed special concern in the parish to the sick and homebound, always ready to pick people up with his humor. He retired from active ministry Aug. 1, 2005, to St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., and moved to Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J., in 2008.
He died May 6, 2008, at Holy Name Friary. Fr. Theodore was 77 years old, a professed friar for 56 years and a priest for 51.