POMPTON PLAINS, N.J. — Vianney Justin, OFM, 78, a professed Franciscan friar for 55 years, died on Aug. 19 at Chilton Medical Center.
Funeral services are planned for St. Anthony’s Church in Butler, New Jersey, where visitation is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Aug. 24. It will be followed by a Mass of Christian Burial, celebrated by Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM. The 10 a.m. liturgy will be live-streamed. Burial will take place at a later date at Holy Sepulcre Cemetery in Totowa, New Jersey.
Vianney was born on Nov. 21, 1942, to Joseph and Claire (née McGoldrich) in Paterson, New Jersey, and was baptized with the name Edward. He attended St. Joseph’s Grammar School in East Rutherford, affiliated with St. Joseph’s Parish which the friars of Holy Name Province maintained for nearly 100 years. Vianney attended high school at St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, New York.
He was received into the Franciscan Order on July 14, 1965, at the Province’s novitiate in Lafayette, New Jersey, where on July 15, 1966 – the feast of St. Bonaventure – he professed his first vows before Harold Blake, OFM. He studied nursing at St. Francis School of Nursing in Olean, New York, earning a license in practical nursing in 1967.
Vianney spent his Franciscan life in service to the marginalized, helping the poor, the elderly, and the spiritually malnourished, in South America and throughout the Northeast.
His first assignment after his initial training took him to Western New York where he worked at the Province’s infirmary at St. Bonaventure University from 1967 to ’69. The following year, he was assigned to Holy Name Province’s mission in Bolivia where he lived for eight years. He directed a parish health clinic in Alto Beni, where he professed final vows on July 24, 1970. From 1972 to 1978, he served as director of the catechist and deacon programs, as well as the bookkeeper for a savings and loan cooperative in Caranavi, Bolivia.
In 1979, Vianney returned to the United States and worked at St. Francis Inn soup kitchen in Philadelphia. In 1980, he moved to Massachusetts, where he lived in East Boston for five years, working at Angel’s Attic thrift store and with the Secular Franciscan fraternity. From 1980 to 1985, he was stationed at St. Anthony Shrine on Arch Street, serving as receptionist and assisting the homeless. From 1985 until 1989, Vianney ministered in East Boston – at Crossroads Family Shelter, with the Salvadoran Refugee Food Program, and as a soup kitchen volunteer.
In 1993, Vianney moved to Washington, D.C., where he was assigned to Clare House, part of the Assisi Community, and ministered giving retreats and served as a spiritual assistant for the Secular Franciscans. During this time, he earned a certificate in spiritual direction from Washington Theological Union. In 2002, he was assigned to Buffalo, New York, to Sts. Rita and Patrick Friary — later called St. Patrick Friary — where he lived for nearly 12 years. His work included prison ministry, working with seniors, and providing spiritual counseling to people struggling with addiction.
Vianney was assigned in July 2016 to St. Anthony Friary in Butler, where he worked with the poor in northern New Jersey, volunteering at Eva’s Kitchen in Paterson and at St. Mary Food Pantry in Pompton Lakes.
He is survived by a sister, Claire Romano of Vero Beach, Florida, and two brothers – James of Vero Beach and Joseph of Mullica Hill, New Jersey.
Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars – Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001-3202.
— Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas.