Vincentian Father John J. Lawlor dies at age 90

Father John J. Lawlor, CM

Father John J. Lawlor, CMPHILADELPHIA—Father John J. Lawlor, a retired Vincentian priest of the Eastern Province USA Congregation of the Mission, died Aug. 20.

Father Lawlor was the former administrator of Our Lady of the Valley Church in Gloverville, S.C.

The funeral was held Aug. 25 and burial was at the Vincentian community cemetery at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Princeton, N.J.

Father Lawlor made his way to Our Lady of the Valley Church in 1996 because the parish did not have a full-time priest. In his decade of ministry there, he left what members said was an indelible mark on the congregation of 136 households.

Deacon Robert J. Waters, parish life facilitator, said Father Lawlor was known throughout the valley as a man who loved to meet and talk to people, and to teach them about the love and mercy of God.

He said parishioners were saddened when the Vincentian had to leave because of illness.

“All the people here loved him a great deal, and they know he felt the same way toward the people,” Deacon Waters said. “He was the most personable man, and his homilies were always on loving God. And just the burdens he faced while he was here made people look beyond themselves.”

Father Lawlor served as director of St. Lazare Retreat House in Michigan from 1966 to 1984.

In 1984, he became director of the Daughters of Charity of the Southeastern Province and served at the order’s motherhouse in Emmitsburg, Md., before volunteering to become pastor at Our Lady of the Valley.

“If I were to sum up those 10 years there, I’d say they were the 10 happiest years of my priesthood,” Father Lawlor said in a 2006 interview with The Miscellany. “I was a missionary in China, I ran a retreat house in Michigan, but I thought the most joyful and rewarding years were in the valley.”

Deacon Waters and other parish members said Father Lawlor was also known for his vigor and his outdoor activities. He was frequently seen walking at 5 a.m. at a track in the nearby town of Clearwater, and he spent many afternoons mowing the lawn of the small rectory next to the church.

Father Lawlor is survived by his brother Robert Lawlor of West Chester.

Memorial donations may be made to the Congregation of the Missions, 500 E. Chelten Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19144.