Mourning the Deaths of Franciscans

HNP Communications Franciscan World

The Provincial Office staff has learned of the passing of friars from two English-speaking Conference provinces – Sacred Heart and St. Barbara – as well as other friars and several Franciscan sisters of communities connected to Holy Name Province.

Benedict Innes, OFM, 67, a member of St. Barbara Province, died on Feb. 26 in Oakland, California. A professed friar for 41 years, 36 of them ordained to the priesthood, he made his solemn profession at St. Francis Church in Sacramento. During his religious life, he served at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, and as executive director of Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, California – where he is remembered as a kind-hearted friar who greeted everyone he met as if they were an old friend. A skilled public speaker who conducted workshops and retreats around the world, the Beloit, Wisconsin, native once attracted the attention of journalist Mike Wallace of CBS’s 60 Minutes – who inadvertently walked into an auditorium packed with young people who Benedict was addressing at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim. When told he was in the wrong room, Wallace responded: “I’d rather stay here. I need to find out what kind of preacher is able to attract this many kids!” Benedict also served as director of post-novitiate formation, guardian at several friaries, pastor at two parishes in Oregon, chaplain of Oregon State Penitentiary, and two terms as a provincial councilor.

Three members of Sacred Heart Province died this month within eight days of each other – Elric Sampson, OFM, James Hoffman, OFM, and George Musial, OFM.

Elric Sampson, OFM, died on March 2 in Chicago, Illinois. He joined the Franciscans in 1957, made his solemn profession seven years later, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1986. His diverse ministerial life included assignments as a teacher, administrator, moderator, assistant principal, retreat leader, and pastor at Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago, Alverna Retreat House in Indianapolis, Indiana, and several parishes – two in Tennessee, along with St. Jude Parish in Warrenville Heights, Ohio, and St. Peter’s in the Loop in Chicago. He served from 1996 until his death at St. Peter’s in the Loop, where he was beloved by parishioners for his compassion, masterful story-telling ability, humor, and down-to-earth homilies. The Windy City native was a voracious reader and news junkie. While in his 80s, Elric researched and wrote about the Gullah People, the African-American community that lives in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and Georgia and is known for preserving more of their African linguistic and cultural heritage than any other African-American community in the U.S.

James Hoffman, OFM, 82, died on March 6 at the Manitowoc Health and Rehabilitation Center in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where he had lived since 2020. He entered the novitiate in 1961, professed his solemn vows in 1965, and was ordained a priest in 1967. His friar life began as a teacher at St. Joseph Minor Seminary in Westmont, Illinois, during which he also served as chaplain at George Williams College. His ministerial journey took him to Africa from 1977 to 1985 in mission work in Zaire and with the non-profit Africa Project. His compassion for the poor and society’s outcasts led him to three decades of tireless work with the Franciscan Outreach Program, a leading provider of homeless services and programs in Chicago. The Quincy, Illinois, native also served two years as assistant pastor at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Petoskey, Michigan. He lived at St Peter’s Friary in Chicago while serving in ministry with the Franciscan Outreach Program.

George Musial, OFM, 80, died on March 10 in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. He was the third friar from the community of St. Peter’s in the Loop to die within eight days. George, a native Chicagoan from St. Bartholomew’s Parish, made his simple vows in 1961 and was solemnly professed in 1964.  He was ordained a priest in 1967 and spent the next seven years doing pastoral ministry at a parish in San Antonio, Texas, hospital chaplaincy in Oak Forest, Illinois, and prison chaplaincy at Stateville Penitentiary in Joliet, Illinois. In 1974, George settled into the site that would be his ministerial and fraternal home for most of his life, serving for 46 years as a priest-confessor at St. Peter’s Church in Chicago’s downtown area.  While he earned a reputation over nearly a half-century as a quiet and unassuming friar and Mass celebrant, he also became revered as a consummate confessor.  For years, the phone at the front office of St. Peter’s rang with people asking when George would next be in confessional box number 12.

Several friars connected through ministry and friendship to HNP friars have died recently.

James McVeigh, OSF, a member of the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, died on Feb. 19 on Long Island, New York. He was 74 years old. Some may know him by his religious name, Br. Martin de Porres. The Brooklyn-born friar is remembered for promoting Franciscan values in everything he did. During his religious life, he served in several academic and administrative roles in the metropolitan New York area – as a teacher at St. Francis Xavier and St. Mary Star of the Sea, both in Brooklyn, and St. Francis Prep, Bishop Ford, and St. Anthony’s high schools; as a principal for 10 years at Our Lady of Hope School in Middle Village, Queens; and as regional school supervisor in the Diocese of Brooklyn and assistant superintendent for Essex County in the Archdiocese of Newark. James also served in formation and vocation leadership roles for the Franciscan Brothers and as co-vicar for religious in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York. He was a member of the executive boards of the National Religious Vocation Conference and Pope John Paul’s Continental Congress for North America on Vocations, and also held the vice president post of the National Conference of Vicars for Religious.

Didacus Wilson, TOR, 66, a member of the Third Order Regular Franciscans of the Province of the Immaculate Conception, USA, died on March 3 in northern Virginia. He entered the Franciscan community in 1980 and professed solemn vows six years later at St. Thomas More House of Studies in Washington, D.C. Despite being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at an early age and periodic medical setbacks, he lived an energetic and full ministerial life centered on his passion for teaching and deep appreciation of the arts. The native of Verdun, France, served most of his ministerial life in education – teaching English and American Literature at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, Virginia, and, from 1990 to 1996, he was a professor of English at The Catholic University of America, where he had earned his doctorate in American Literature. He also served his province as director of studies from 1988 to 1992 and as local minister from 1994 to 1996.

Franciscan Sisters of Allegany
Sr. Ann Kelly, OSF, 92, died on Jan. 24 at St. Elizabeth Motherhouse in Allegany, New York. The Massachusetts native had been a member of the community for 72 years. She held degrees from Burdett College of Business in Boston, St. Bonaventure University in Western, New York, and Marywood College in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Sr. Ann spent more than three decades in education ministry, teaching in congregational schools in New York and New Jersey, including St. John in Olean, New York, St. Bonaventure Parish School in Allegany, and St. Aloysius School in Oaklyn, New Jersey, where she served as principal. She also served as a librarian at schools in Melbourne, Florida, and Waterbury, Connecticut. After her many years in education, Sr. Ann served in administrative work for the congregation and in pastoral care at St. Joseph Hospital in Tampa, Florida.

Sr. Eva DiCamillo, OSF, died on Feb. 8 in Allegany at the age of 91. The Niagara Falls native had been a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany since 1947. She held a bachelor’s degree from St. Bonaventure University and master of science degrees in education and educational occupational therapy from Cortland State University and Buffalo State College, respectively. Sr. Eva taught at congregational schools in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York, and served as principal at Mount Carmel School in Mt. Vernon. She later worked as an occupational therapist at St. Francis Hospital in Olean, New York, and St. Anthony Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. From 1984 to 1987, she ministered in the St. Elizabeth Mission Society as mission procurator, director of communications, and editor of Zeal magazine. For a period of time, she lived in the Franciscan Ritiro, a prayer community of the Franciscan Sisters in Allegany.

– Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

Editor’s note: Each month, HNP Today publishes news of the deaths of Franciscan brothers, priests, and sisters – those who most have a connection to the friars of Holy Name Province. Information should be emailed to the HNP Communications Office.


  • Obituaries page of Franciscan Sisters of Allegany website 
  • “Mourning the Deaths of Franciscans” – Feb. 17, 2021, HNP Today