ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — John Ullrich, OFM, 73, a professed Franciscan friar for 48 years and a priest for 45, died on Aug. 13 at St. Anthony’s Hospital. He spent his religious life in a variety of roles, mainly pastoral work and positions related to Franciscan formation and education.
A wake is being held at St. Anthony Friary Chapel at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 18. It will be followed by a 10 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial at which John Anglin, OFM, will preside. Burial will be at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Clearwater, Florida.
John was born on April 9, 1948 in Buffalo, New York, to Robert and Colette (née Guenther) Ullrich. After attending Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School in Buffalo – which was founded and staffed by Franciscan friars – he graduated in 1970 from Siena College near Albany, New York, where he studied philosophy and earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting. In 1971, he earned a master’s degree in counseling and development from the State University of New York at Albany.
He was received into the Franciscan Order on Aug. 22, 1971, at the Province’s novitiate in Brookline, Massachusetts, where a year later, on Aug. 26, 1972, he professed his first vows. John studied theology at Washington Theological Union. and on Aug. 16, 1975, he made his solemn profession before Finian Kerwin, OFM, at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in New York City. John was ordained to the priesthood on May 8, 1976, in Silver Spring, Maryland, by Bishop Dominic Coscia, OFM.
John spent his Franciscan life in vocation and formation work, as well as leadership roles at parishes, with ministry assignments throughout the East Coast and Midwest.
His first assignment after ordination was at St. Elizabeth Parish in Denver, Colorado, where he served for four years as director of the St. Francis Interfaith Center. In 1980, he returned to the East Coast to work in the HNP Vocation Office and was stationed at Holy Cross Friary in the Bronx, New York. From 1981 until 1984, he served in formation roles as director of simply professed and as a member of the novitiate team. John was assigned in 1984 to St. Francis Retreat Center in Rye Beach, New Hampshire, where he worked for six years as director of the retreat team and also served as guardian. He also completed additional studies in pastoral supervision at Andover-Newton Theological School in Massachusetts.
In 1991, John moved to St. Anthony-St. Patrick Parish in Hartford, Connecticut, where he served as parochial vicar for six years. In 1997, he was assigned to St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, where he was the guardian from 1999 until 2002. John was assigned in 2003 to St. Francis of Assisi Parish on Long Beach Island, New Jersey, where he ministered until 2011 – two of those years as the pastor as well as friary guardian.
In 2011, John returned to formation work, assigned until 2016 to Holy Name College in Silver Spring, where he also served as treasurer of the friary community, assisted at St. Camillus Parish and other local churches, and ministered at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. From 2016 until 2020, he was stationed at St. Joseph Friary in Chicago, serving as treasurer of the interprovincial post-novitiate formation house. He retired in June 2020 to St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg.
John is survived by a niece, Gwen Rosenthal of Washington, Michigan, and several cousins.
Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars – Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001-3202.
— Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas.
- “Friar Story” by John Ullrich, OFM – HNP website
- “Post -novitiate Community Settles into Chicago” – Jan. 18, 2017, HNP Today