Father Charles A. Steen, 68 years of age, a professed Franciscan for 48 years and a priest for 42 years, died on Dec. 17 at the home of his sister, Carol Anne Leonard, in Elma, N.Y. He was diagnosed in early November with liver cancer.
Charles was born on Feb. 13, 1938, to Chester and Catherine (McMahon) Steen, in Buffalo, N.Y. He was baptized Joseph on Feb. 27, 1938, in St. Martin’s Church in Buffalo. There he attended the parish elementary school and Bishop Timon High School, but after a year at Timon, he enrolled in St. Joseph Seminary, Callicoon, N.Y.
On July 14, 1957, Charles was received into the Franciscan Order at St. Raphael’s Friary in Lafayette, N.J., where he professed first vows on July 15, 1958 before Celsus Wheeler. He completed undergraduate education at St. Francis College in Rye Beach, N.H., and then studied theology at Holy Name College, Washington, D.C. He professed his final vows on Aug. 22, 1961 at Christ the King Seminary at St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, N.Y, before Donald Hoag. Charles was ordained to the priesthood on Feb. 22, 1964 by Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi, the Apostolic Delegate, at Mount St. Sepulchre Church, Washington, D.C.
After a pastoral year at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, Mass., from 1964 to 1965, Charles volunteered to serve as a missionary in Bolivia, where he served for over two decades in Apolo (1965-70), Sorata (1970 -1983), and La Paz (1983-84). He then returned to the United States, ministering at St. Francis Chapel in Providence, R. I., from 1984 to 1986.
Following a year of continuing education at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif., in 1987 Charles again volunteered for service in the foreign missions, this time in Africa. There he served in parochial ministry in Nairobi, Kenya; Bukoba, Tanzania; and from 1991 to 2000 as pastor at St. Pius X Parish in Waterkloff, South Africa. In 2000, Charlie returned to the United States, serving briefly at St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, Md., and then as a preacher of parish missions, based in Hialeah, Fla., from 2001 to 2004. He then served briefly as diocesan Director of Hispanic Ministry in West Virginia, before being assigned in 2005 as parochial vicar at St. Mary’s Parish, Pompton Lakes, N.J., where he served until his recent illness.
Kevin Downey, pastor of St. Mary’s Parish, Pompton Lakes, will conduct the Wake service at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 21 at McMahon Funeral Home, 982 Abbott Road, Buffalo, N.Y. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, Dec. 22 at 10:00 a.m. at Saints Rita and Patrick Church, 938 Eagle Street, Buffalo. Dominic Monti, Provincial Vicar, will be the principal celebrant and Neil O’Connell, a classmate of Charlie, will preach the homily. Interment will follow at the friars’ plot, St. Bonaventure Cemetery, Allegany, N.Y.
Charlie is survived by two brothers, Richard of Buffalo, James of Seneca, N.Y., and four sisters, Sr. Mary Eileen, RSM, Sisters of Mercy, Buffalo, N.Y., Mrs. Marianne Runfola of Angola, N.Y., Mrs. Donna Gannon of Eden, N.Y., and Mrs. Carol Anne Leonard, to whom condolences may be addressed at S. 935 Townline Road, Elma, NY 14059.