POMPTON PLAINS, N.J. – Fr. Paul Osborne, OFM, 83, a professed Franciscan friar for 63 years and a priest for 57, died on Dec. 26 at Chilton Medical Center. He spent six decades ministering in more than a dozen cities and towns in four countries on three continents, serving in education, formation, pastoral care and administration.
A wake will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 30, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 65 Bartholdi Ave., Butler, NJ 07405. Provincial Minister Fr. Kevin Mullen, OFM, will celebrate the Mass and give the homily. Fr. Paul will be buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Butler. The Mass will be livestreamed on the church’s Facebook page.
Fr. Paul was born on Jan. 31, 1938 in Rochester, New York, to Herbert and Margaret (née Morgan) Osborne. He graduated from Churchville, N.Y., High School in 1955 before attending St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, New York, for his first two years of college.
He was received into the Franciscan Order on July 14, 1957 at St. Raphael’s Novitiate in Lafayette, New Jersey, where he professed his first vows on July 15, 1958 before Fr. Celsus Wheeler, OFM. After several years of formation at schools in Rye Beach, New Hampshire, and Washington, D.C., he made his solemn profession before Fr. Donald Hoag, OFM, on Aug. 22, 1961 at Christ the King Seminary in Allegany, New York. He was ordained a priest by Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi on Feb. 22, 1964 at Mount St. Sepulchre at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, D.C.
Shortly after his ordination, Fr. Paul volunteered for the Province’s missions in South America, where he would spend the next two decades working primarily in education and formation in the Custody of the Holy Name in Brazil. There he earned a licentiate in biology from the Catholic University of Goiás before he began teaching at the minor seminary in Anápolis. He became a professor, then director and master of students for the formation program, living in Anápolis, Petrópolis and Goiânia.
After 20 years in Brazil, Fr. Paul volunteered to go to East Africa in 1984 to serve in the Order’s new Africa Vicariate of St. Francis. He first taught in Nairobi, Kenya, and taught while also serving as secretary of the new vicariate there. In 1986, he was appointed to serve as Provincial Minister, a role he held until 1992. He then returned to formation work, serving as novice director in Bahati, Kenya, and then on the novitiate team in Mbarara, Uganda in 1993.
Fr. Paul returned to the United States in 1994, serving for six months at St. Francis Chapel in Providence. Then, beginning in 1995, he taught religion and biology at Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School in Buffalo, New York, where he was also part of the campus ministry team and director of the school’s chorus. Eight years later, he was appointed pastor of St. George-St. Francis Church in Jeffersonville, New York, about a 15-minute drive from the former Callicoon seminary. He served there until 2004, when he returned briefly to Buffalo, serving as parochial vicar of St. Rita-St. Patrick Parish for a few months.
In April 2004, Fr. Paul returned to Brazil. He ministered for several years in Miracema, where he assisted with pastoral ministry in the local parish and taught at the minor seminary. In 2006, he officially transferred to the now-independent Holy Name Province in Brazil and was elected its provincial vicar, serving from 2007 to 2012. In this role, Fr. Paul was based in Anápolis, Goiás.
After 10 years in Brazil, Fr. Paul returned to the United States in 2013 and was assigned pastor at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Yulan, New York. Later that year, he moved to St. Bernardine of Siena Friary in Loudonville, New York, to serve at St. Francis Chapel in nearby Colonie. Four years later, he moved to St. Anthony Friary in Butler, New Jersey.
Fr. Paul is survived by his brother friars as well as his sister, Mary Margaret Alfieri of Spencerport, New York, nieces Becky Alfieri Stock and Susan Alfieri Larnier, and a nephew, Paul Alfieri.
Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars – Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001-3202.
— Maria Hayes is director of marketing for Holy Name Province.
- “Retiree Paul Osborne Looks Back on Ministry in South America, Africa and the U.S.” – Nov. 19, 2020, HNP Today
- “Class of 1964 Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Ordination” – May 28, 2014, HNP Today
- “Franciscans Commemorate 25 Years of Ministry in Africa” – May 7, 2008, HNP Today