John L. Seary, O.S.A.

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1900 – 1989 (February 15)

John Leo Seary, Jr. was born May 6, 1900 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the youngest of ten children of John Leo Seary and Cecelia Jordan.. He was baptized May 27, 1900 at Saint Francis Xavier Church, and was confirmed May 26, 1910 at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, both in Philadelphia. John received his elementary education at Saint Gregory and Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Schools, and studied at Saint Joseph College High School, Philadelphia, before entering Saint Rita Hall, Villanova, Pennsylvania. There he earned his high school diploma in 1918. He was received into the novitiate on June 27, 1919, and professed simple vows on June 29, 1920 and solemn vows on December 12, 1923. He received a B.A. in Philosophy from Villanova College, and pursued theological studies at Augustinian College, Washington, D.C. He was ordained to the priesthood on August 29, 1926.

Father Seary’s first assignment was in 1927 to Saint Augustine High School, Ojai, California. One year later he was transferred to Saint Rita High School, Chicago, Illinois, where he taught and, beginning in 1930, was Vice-Principal/Prefect of Studies. He was named Principal of Saint Thomas High School, Rockford, Il., in 1935, and served as prior of the community. When the new Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel was formed in 1941, Father Seary was affiliated to that Province, and was elected a member of the new Council. 

In 1942 Father Seary was assigned to the recently opened Saint Monica High School Seminiary, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. He was prior of the community, and was also a member of the Augustinian Mission Band. In 1944, he was transferred to Cascia Hall, Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he served as Headmaster and prior of the community. He returned to Chicago in 1950 to found a new school, Mendel Catholic High School. When the school opened in 1951 on the former campus of the Pullman Free School of Manual Training, Father Seary became its first Principal as well as prior of the community.

Father Seary was elected Prior Provincial of the Midwest Province in 1956  . He continued to reside at Mendel Monastery, Chicago, until the new major seminary, Tolentine Hall, Olympia Fields, Illinois, opened in 1958. At the conclusion of his second term as Provincial in 1962, he went to Saint Clare of Montefalco Church, Chicago, where he was assistant pastor and prior of the community. In 1971 he retired from full-time ministry, and resided at Mendel Monastery, Chicago, where he continued to provide guidance to seminary support organizations such as the Men of Tolentine and the Ladies of Tolentine. He also ministered part-time at Saint Walter Parish.

For a number of years Father Seary’s health had been deteriorating. He suffered several heart attacks, and was assigned, in 1988, to Saint Rita Monastery, Chicago. There he died peacefully February 15, 1989, at the age of 88.

Father Seary enjoyed music, was fond of reminding people of his early years as a popularizer of new sheet music, was an avid story-teller and found great humor in recalling events of the past. Among his many accomplishments, he was noteworthy for founding the two formation support groups, Men of Tolentine and Ladies of Tolentine. 

He is buried in the Augustinian plot at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.