La Salle O’Friel, 78, a professed Franciscan for 57 years and a priest for 52 years, died on Nov. 6 at St. Clare’s Hospital in Denville, N.J.
La Salle was born on Aug. 9, 1928 in Altoona, Pa., to Chester and Bridget (nee Ryder) O’Friel and was baptized Lawrence on Aug. 19 in St. Leo’s Church. He attended the parish school from 1934 to 1942, Altoona Catholic High School from 1942 to 1943, Central Catholic High School, Pittsburgh, Pa., from 1943 to 1946, and St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary, Callicoon, N.Y., from 1946 to 1948.
He was received into the Order on Aug. 12, 1948, at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J., and received the religious name La Salle. He professed his first vows there on Aug. 13, 1949, before Thomas Plassmann. He pursued his philosophical studies at St. Stephen Friary in Croghan, N.Y., and at St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J.
He studied theology at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C., and made his solemn profession there on Aug. 17, 1952, before Celsus Wheeler. On Sept. 8, 1954, he was ordained a priest by the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Amleto Cicognani, in the Church of Mount Sepulchre in Washington, D.C.
La Salle’s first assignment was to St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street in New York City as parochial vicar. In 1964, he was appointed guardian and pastor of Saints Rita and Patrick Church and Friary in Buffalo, N.Y. In 1970, he joined the Provincial Retreat Band, residing at St. Bonaventure Parish, Paterson, N.J., from 1970 to 1975, at the House of Prayer, St. Joseph Seminary, Callicoon from 1975 to 1977; and from 1977 to 2006, as retreat-master at St. Anthony Friary, Butler.
La Salle’s Wake will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9 at St. Anthony Church, 71 Bartholdi Avenue, Butler.. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated there at 10 a.m. on Nov. 10.John O’Connor will be the principal celebrant, and Bernard Creighton, vicar of St. Anthony Friary, will preach the homily. Interment will follow in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Butler.
His brothers, Zachary O’Friel and Demetrius O’Friel, also members of Holy Name Province, predeceased La Salle. His sister, Sr. Sheila O’Friel, D.C., a Daughter of Charity, of Bayside, N.Y., and brothers Mark of Larchmont, N.Y., and Paul, survive him. Condolences may be sent to Paul at 412 Commonwealth Avenue, Newton Centre, Mass., 02459.