Mourning the Deaths of Franciscans

HNP Communications Franciscan World

The Provincial Office staff has learned of the passing of friars from four English-speaking Conference provinces, along with a Franciscan bishop and several Franciscan sisters.

Patrick Groves, OFM, 73, a member of St. Barbara Province, died on Dec. 17 in Oceanside, California. Born in Ventura and raised in nearby Port Hueneme, he entered the Franciscan formation program at San Luis Rey in his freshman year of college, and later professed his simple vows in 1970 and made his solemn profession in 1976, both at Mission San Miguel. He graduated with a degree in theology from the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley. His ministries ranged from high school teacher, post-novitiate formation director, and assistant novice master, to refugee missionary in El Salvador and associate director of the ESL program at Casa San Felipe in Los Angeles.

Anthony Skurla, OFM, of Assumption BVM Province, died on Dec. 28 in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. He was 92 years old. Born in Syracuse, New York, and raised in Minnesota, he lived most of his Franciscan life at Holy Dormition Friary in Sybertsville, Pennsylvania, one of the first friars assigned to this Byzantine community and one of the first to join the Byzantine Franciscan Custody established in 1966. He also was one of the first Byzantine vocations to enter Holy Name Province’s novitiate in Paterson, New Jersey, where he professed his first vows in August 1948. Known as a bridge-builder and for his peaceable demeanor, he made his solemn profession in 1952 in New Canaan, Connecticut, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954 in Philadelphia. His ministries ranged from leadership positions – he served as a member of the Assumption provincial council, director of novices, and guardian of the Sybertsville community – to pastoral service that included giving retreats, working with the Secular Franciscans, and serving as a chaplain for the Holy Annunciation Monastery of the Byzantine Carmelite Nuns.

Steve Malkiewicz, OFM, also a member of Assumption BVM Province, died on Jan. 7 in Burlington, Wisconsin, at the age of 78. The New Jersey native entered Queen of Peace Monastery and Novitiate in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, in 1960, made his first profession a year later and was ordained to the priesthood in 1969. He spent most of his friar life in the education ministry, teaching at Archbishop Ryan High School in Philadelphia and at St. Bonaventure Minor Seminary High School in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. After earning a master’s degree in liturgics from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, and a certificate in Polish studies from the Jagiellonian University in Kracow, Poland, he taught at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois, and at St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee. “From Poland to Canada to Guatemala to the U.S. provinces, Steve’s name was synonymous with liturgy,” according to his obituary on Assumption BVM’s website. The “go-to guy” when it came to anything liturgical, he received the Vatican II Award for Service in Liturgy to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 2011.

Harry Speckman, OFM, 90, a member of Sacred Heart Province, died on Jan. 2 in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The Joliet, Illinois, native enlisted in the United States Army after college graduation and served in the Korean War. He was received as a novice in Teutopolis, Illinois, in 1955 and professed his first vows a year later. He made his solemn profession as a Franciscan in 1959 and, after completing his studies in theology, he was ordained to the priesthood on June 13, 1961. In his early years as a friar, he served as associate pastor at a parish in St. Paul, Minnesota, and as a member of the retreat staff in Waverly, Nebraska. He then switched to formation ministry, serving at Our Lady of Angels Seminary in Quincy, Illinois, as the dean of Apostolic formation, and as guardian and master of formation at St. Joseph Friary (Catholic Theological Union) in Chicago. After serving as provincial vicar from 1978 to 1987, he worked as director of the radio station WQUB-FM and executive vice president of Quincy University. He also served as a senior associate of Baraga Broadcasting, a Catholic radio station in Michigan.

Jack Wintz, OFM, a member of St. John the Baptist Province, died on Jan. 13 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was 84 years old. The Indiana native was an award-winning journalist and an author whose books brought comfort to grieving pet owners. Before joining St. Anthony Messenger Press (now Franciscan Media) in 1972 as associate editor of the magazine, he taught at high schools in Cincinnati and Fort Wayne, Indiana. He also served as a missionary in the Philippines, where he was part of the faculty of the Franciscan Seminary College and Maryknoll College in Manila. His work as a journalist was frequently recognized by the Catholic Press Association, which in 2006 gave him its highest honor – the St. Francis de Sales Award – “for his dedication to justice through the power of Catholic journalism and for radiating the truthful, gentle spirit of St. Francis de Sales.” His books can be found on the GoodReads website.

Sr. Rosalia Zachman, OSF, 90, died on Dec. 10 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from the effects of COVID-19. Known for her tours as a guide at St. Joseph Chapel in Milwaukee, she appeared in a video last fall reflecting on how her faith was sustaining her during the pandemic. The video can be seen on the Facebook page of the School Sisters of St. Francis, the community of which she was a member for 73 years.

Sr. Loretta Francis Mann, OSF, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, died on Dec. 21 at Assisi House in Aston, Pennsylvania. She was 92 years old. A native of York, Penn., she entered the congregation in 1948 and professed her first vows in 1951. During her 69 years of profession, she ministered primarily in education as a teacher and principal, and in diocesan administration – including 23 years with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and 40 years with the Archdiocese of Hartford in Connecticut. She earned a bachelor of science degree in English from Villanova University in Philadelphia and a master’s degree in elementary education from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Sr. Catherine Therese Keller, OSF, 81, also a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, died on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24 at Assisi House in Aston. The Reading, Pennsylvania, native professed her first vows in 1960 and earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from Neumann University in Aston and a master’s degree in education from Providence College in Rhode Island. She ministered primarily in education as a teacher and principal – which included 26 years in the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, five years in the Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama, and 27 years in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. She served on the staff at Neumann University and volunteered at Immaculate Mary Home and Assisi House.

– Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

Editor’s note: Each month, HNP Today publishes news of the deaths of Franciscan brothers, priests, and sisters. Information should be emailed to the HNP Communications Office.