LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. — A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated last week in memory of Francis Gunn, OFM. The 58-year-old friar died unexpectedly on Aug. 24 at the rectory of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Northville, N.Y. He was a professed Franciscan for 32 years and a priest for 29.
Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard served as principal celebrant for the Aug. 30 Mass at St. Piuxs X Church, with John O’Connor, OFM, and Dominic Monti, OFM, concelebrating. William Beaudin, OFM, preached the homily. Interment followed at Blue Mountain Cemetery in Saugerties, N.Y.
A wake and wake service were held on Aug. 29 at Seamon-Wilsey Funeral Home in Saugerties.
Francis was born April 15, 1953, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to the late Edward and Rose Gunn. Discerning a religious vocation, he graduated in 1971 from St. Francis Seminary High School, Lafayette, N.J., conducted by the Capuchin Franciscans of the Sacred Stigmata Province. That fall, he entered that order’s pre-novitiate program at Don Bosco College in Newton, N.J., receiving in 1975 his bachelor’s degree in philosophy.
In August 1975, Francis entered the novitiate of the Capuchin friars at St. Lawrence Friary, Beacon, N.Y., and professed his first vows there the following year. He then began his theology studies at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, N.J.
In 1978, he transferred to the Order of Friars Minor, entering the Holy Name Province novitiate in Brookline, Mass. He professed his first vows in 1979 at St. Mary’s Church, Pompton Lakes, N.J. Francis lived there while completing his theology program at the seminary in Darlington, receiving a master’s of divinity in 1981. He professed solemn vows in September 1981 and was ordained a priest in November, both at St. Francis of Assisi Church, New York.
Following ordination, Francis returned to Pompton Lakes after a short time as campus minister at Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y. He served as a member of the team ministry at St. Mary’s from 1982 to 1987 while studying counseling at nearby Seton Hall University. He then pursued graduate studies at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work of Yeshiva University, receiving his master’s in 1988.
From 1987 to 1995, Francis worked at several social agencies in northern New Jersey including the South Bergen Mental Health Center in Lyndhurst, Northwest Bergen Hospice in Ridgewood, and the Mid-Bergen Health Center in Paramus. During this time, he engaged in private practice as a psychotherapist and lecturer and supplied weekend assistance to area parishes.
Francis returned to Siena College in 1996 as director of campus ministry. He then served as parochial vicar at St. Denis Church in Hopewell Junction, N.Y., and at Holy Name of Jesus Church in New York.
After the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, he was an active member of the crisis intervention team that ministered to New York firefighters.
In 2002, Francis assumed the role of pastor at St. Joseph Church in East Rutherford, N.J. He then returned to Holy Name Parish, serving as pastor from 2005 to 2008. Francis returned to St. Mary’s Parish in Pompton Lakes as parochial vicar, while working on projects for the Provincial Office in New York City.
Earlier this year, he moved to his assignment as administrator of two parishes in the Diocese of Albany — St. Francis, Northville, and St. Joseph, Broadalbin.
Francis is survived by four sisters, Eileen Gunn and Lorraine Comito of Saugerties, Patricia Shirley of Lincoln Park, N.J., and Joan Carr of Port Orchard, Wash. Condolences may be sent to Ms. Eileen Gunn, 505 W. Saugerties Rd., Saugerties NY 12477.
Memorial contributions can be made to: The Franciscans — St. Anthony’s Guild, 4 Jersey Street, East Rutherford NJ 07073-1012.
— Compiled by Rebecca Doel