RINGWOOD, N.J. — Finian Riley, OFM, 89, a professed Franciscan friar for 66 years and a priest for 61, died Jan. 15 at Holy Name Friary.
A wake service was held there on Jan. 19. A viewing took place the following morning at St. Anthony Church in Butler, N.J., which was followed by a Mass of Christian Burial celebrated by Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM. The burial followed at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Butler.
Finian was born on May 26, 1926 in Brattleboro, Vt., to William and Mary Riley. After graduating from Nicholas Herkimer High School in 1944, he served in the U.S. Naval Reserve for two years before he attended Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y., from 1946 to 1948.
He was received into the Order of Friars Minor in 1948 and professed first vows the following year. After studying philosophy and theology, Finian professed final vows in 1952 and was ordained in 1954.
Finian spent the majority of his years as a priest doing missionary work and serving migrant workers. His first assignment, from 1955 to 1960, was to the Province’s Southern missions in Americus, Ga. His service was interrupted in 1958, when he studied Spanish at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C. In 1960, Finian went to Puerto Rico, where he served in the Province’s parish in Cappara Heights and also as chaplain at Mother Cabrini Hospital in San Juan.
Arriving stateside in 1967, Finian worked as a chaplain at St. Clare Hospital in New York City for two years. He then spent the next 15 years ministering to and advocating for migrant workers, first in Swedesboro, N.J., (1969 to 1971) and then in Apopka, Fla., (1970 to 1982), with a focus on serving Haitian refugees. In 1982, Finian returned to New York City, where he resumed his work as a chaplain at St. Clare Hospital for a year.
In 1983, Finian was one of the first volunteers for the Order’s new Africa Project. He spent the next 21 years doing missionary work in what became the Vicariate of St. Francis in Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar, among other countries.
Returning to the United States in 2004, he retired from active ministry to St. Anthony Friary in Butler. He relocated to Holy Name Friary in Ringwood in 2005.
He is survived by a niece, Lynda Riley, of Richardson, Texas.
Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars — Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001-3202.
— Compiled by Carolyn Croke and Maria Hayes
- “Franciscans Commemorate 25 Years of Ministry in Africa” — May 7, 2008, HNP Today
- “Province Congratulates Jubilarians, Remembers the Deceased” — Jan. 7, 2009, HNP Today