Oratorian Father William Pentis dies at 79

ROCK HILL—Oratorian Father William F. Pentis, canonical pastor of Divine Saviour Church in York, died June 25 at The Oratory. He was 79.

The Mass of Christian Burial was held July 1 at St. Anne Church and burial was at Laurelwood Cemetery. Father Pentis was born Sept. 27, 1931, a son of the late Edward J. and Paula Koenig Pentis from Brookfield, Ill. He attended Quigley Seminary in Chicago, Our Lady of the Lake Major Seminary in Mundelein, Ill., and Catholic University.

In an autobiography on The Oratory website, Father Pentis stated that at age 28, after seeing a tiny ad in America Magazine, he and his father drove to The Oratory for a visit. He was so moved by his experience he joined the congregation of The Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Rock Hill on July 22, 1959. He was ordained a priest May 7, 1966.

Father Pentis held many roles at The Oratory, including vicar, deputy, secretary, and novice master. He also taught at St. Anne School, ministered at Divine Saviour and St. Catherine Church in Lancaster, and spent 21 years as pastor of St. Anne Church in Rock Hill.

“It still amazes me how God in His goodness had prepared me to do priestly work in an area of so few Catholics after having come from such a Catholic center as Chicago.

“In Lancaster, I was the only Catholic priest in the only Catholic parish in the whole county,” he wrote. “I could feel for northerners moving south who were used to so many Catholic churches. I had learned how to care for myself as I had no staff there but a lot of good people.”

The priest worked with senior citizens in the community, was the spiritual moderator of the S.C. Council of Catholic Women, and founded The Oratory Religion Camp for boys and girls, which celebrated its 40th year in 2010.

“In all of my activities, my Oratorian community has supported and encouraged me … Tears come to my eyes when I recall the love I experienced from the people in my various ministries over the years. It has been the dedicated, hard-working people where I have ministered that made it all possible,” Father Pentis wrote.

He is survived by his brothers, Charles and Edward Pentis, nieces and nephews, and The Oratorian community.

Memorials may be made to Friends of the Oratory, P.O. Box 11586, Rock Hill, SC 29731.