Funeral Services Held for Friars Lehr and O’Rourke

HNP Communications Features

RINGWOOD, N.J. — Masses of Christian Burial were held earlier this month for Theodore Lehr, OFM, and Colin O’Rourke, OFM, who both died on May 6.

Theodore, a professed Franciscan friar for 56 years, was 77 when he died.  He was born Nov. 11, 1930 in Elmhurst, N.Y., to Martin and Mary (née Smith) Lehr, and was baptized Gerard in St. Bartholomew Church in Elmhurst where he attended the parish’s parochial school. He attended St. Agnes High School in New York City for one year and then entered St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y.

He was received into the Order of Friars Minor, Holy Name Province, on Aug. 12, 1950 by Thomas Plassmann, OFM, at St. Bonaventure Church in Paterson, N.J., where he professed first vows on Aug. 13, 1951 before Mathias Faust, OFM. 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. On Aug.13, 1954, he professed solemn vows before Celsus Wheeler, OFM, at Christ the King Seminary in Allegany, N.Y.  He was ordained to the priesthood on Sept. 8, 1956, by Cardinal Amleto Cicognani at the Franciscan Monastery of Mount Saint Sepulchre in Washington, D.C.

Upon completing theological studies in 1957, he served for one year on the staff of St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, Mass., then one year as parochial vicar at Assumption Parish in Wood-Ridge, N.J. From 1959 to 1963, he served as parochial vicar at St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street in New York City. From 1963 until 1968, he was a U.S. Navy chaplain. From 1968 until 1973, he was vice chancellor of the Military Ordinariate in New York City. From 1973 to 1976, Theodore was pastor of St. Catherine Parish in Ringwood, and from 1976 until 1979, he was  HNP’s associate provincial promoter of the missions, while residing at St. Francis Friary in New York City.

He returned to Assumption Parish in Wood-Ridge, from 1979 until 1982, as parochial vicar, and then from 1982 until 1987, he was parochial vicar of Sacred Heart Parish in Rochelle Park, N.J. He served for several months at St. Joseph’s Parish in West Milford, N.J. and from 1987 until June 2005, he was parochial vicar at St. Leo’s Parish in Elmwood Park, N.J. He retired on Aug. 1, 2005 to St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., until he moved to Holy Name Friary in Ringwood earlier this year due to declining health.

Theodore was buried May 10 at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Butler, N.J. He is survived by his brother, Reverend James W. Lehr, MM, a Maryknoll priest, of Maryknoll, N.Y., and sister, Ann Hanley, to whom condolences may be addressed at 2 Landmark Drive, Apt. #2, Cornwall NY 12518.

Colin, a professed Franciscan friar for 51 years, was 85 when he died. He was born in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on Aug.  27, 1922, to Francis and Helen (née Cleary-Follett) and was baptized Francis in St. Peter’s Church, Saratoga Springs, on Sept. 17. After graduating in 1939 from Saratoga Springs High School, Theodore, served during World War II, in the Army Air Force from 1942 to 1945 on a fighter-bomber in the European theater of operations. Upon his discharge from the military, he enrolled at Siena College, Loudonville, graduating in 1949 with a BBA in accounting.

In 1953, he enrolled in St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary where he studied for two years. He was received into the Order on July 14, 1955, at St. Raphael’s Novitiate in Lafayette, N.J., receiving the name Colin. He professed his first vows there on July 15, 1956, and on Aug.18, 1959, he professed solemn vows at Christ the King Seminary, both before Celsus Wheeler.  He studied philosophy at St. Francis College, Rye Beach, N.H., and theology at Holy Name College, Washington, D.C. Archbishop (later Cardinal) Egidio Vagnozzi ordained him a priest in the church of the Franciscan Monastery, Mount St. Sepulchre, on Feb. 25, 1961. For the next 45 years, he lived and ministered at St. Anthony Shrine.  In November 2006, due to failing health, he transferred to Holy Name Friary in Ringwood.

Colin was buried May 8 in God’s Acre Cemetery in Ringwood.

He is survived by his brother, James, and brother-in-law, Peter Pemberton of Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Condolences may be sent to James at 27 Granite Street, Saratoga Springs, N.Y. 02866.

An article about the Province’s skilled nursing facility at Holy Name Friary in Ringwood appears in the Spring 2008 issue of The Anthonian.