Father Francis McDonnell Dies Nov. 14
November 21, 2019
ROCKFORD—Father Francis E. McDonnell, S.T.L., age 92, died Nov. 14 at Presence Cor Mariae here. He was born on Feb. 21, 1927, in Sterling to Thomas J. McDonnell and Margaret A. Weber. 
He attended St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore, Md., where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1947 and a bachelor’s degree in Sacred Theology (STB) in 1949, as well as his Licentiate of Sacred Theology (STL) in 1951. 
Father McDonnell was ordained by Bishop John J. Boylan at St. Mary Parish in Sterling on April 11, 1951. 
He later attended the University of Notre Dame, where he received a master’s degree in philosophy. 
Father McDonnell served for nine years with the Society of St. Sulpice, teaching in their seminaries. He then served as a faculty member at Marmion Academy in Aurora. 
He also served as chaplain of Mercyville Sanitarium in Aurora and on the faculty at Roncalli High School in Aurora. 
He was appointed to be moderator of the Catholic Interracial Council from 1964-1972. He served Catholic Charities from 1964-1972, first as assistant director and then as director. 
While in Rockford, Father  McDonnell was also the chaplain to Mount St. Francis Convent. He was the Defender of the Bond for the diocesan Tribunal in 1968. 
He served as pastor of St. Patrick in Rockford from 1969-1983. In 1975 he was assigned as pro-synodal judge for the tribunal. In 1983 Father McDonnell was assigned as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Sterling and retired there from active ministry on June 10, 1997. 
He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Patrick McDonnell, Dr. Thomas McDonnell, and Dr. John McDonnell; sister-in-law, Eileen;  and nephew Patrick. 
He is survived by sisters-in-law Dolores and Helen; nieces and nephews Meg (Leo) Bressanelli, Ann (Pat) McDonnell, Tom (Marie) McDonnell, Kate (Pat) Cavanagh, Sue (Jim) Olson, Patty Clark, Mike McDonnell, Rita (Rick) Kerley, John (Priscilla) McDonnell, Janet (John) Conneely, Joan (Jim) Sweeney, Tim (Kelly) McDonnell, and many great and great-great nieces and nephews. 
The funeral Mass was Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019 at Sacred Heart Parish, 2224 Avenue J, Sterling. Visitation was at the church prior to the funeral Mass. Burial was in Calvary Cemetery, Sterling.