John Neville, OSC
August 6, 1935 - June 23, 2008
August 6, 1935 - June 23, 2008
Fr. John Neville, osc, was born August 6, 1935, and raised in Indiana where he came to know the Crosier Fathers and Brothers as a youth in Fort Wayne. It was a diocesan priest in Indiana, Fr. Ed Hession, who suggested to young John that he “check out the Crosiers up at Wawasee.” John fell in love with the Crosier way of life, made his first profession of vows on August 28, 1956, and was ordained a priest on May 27, 1961.
John’s first assignment was to the Crosier Community of Onamia, Minnesota, where, except for two sabbaticals, he spent about 30 years. He held a number of teaching and academic jobs at Onamia including serving as rector of Crosier Seminary and dean of the college. He also held positions of leadership in the Province of Saint Odilia including Councilor to the Provincial and Formation Director, and in 1994, was elected by his Crosier brothers to serve as Prior Provincial.
Although John had a B.A. degree in mathematics with a minor in education, and held a doctoral degree in educational administration, his first love was music. As a child and young adult, he learned to play several instruments and, over the years, had accompanied band and choral groups on piano and had played at Crosier community prayer and Eucharist. He also composed and arranged music.
Following his five-year service as Provincial and a sabbatical year, John moved to the Crosier Formation Community at Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago, Illinois. He joined the CTU faculty as administrator and director of technology to network their educational and formation programs, and to find ways to make the use of technology easier.
During his time at CTU, John was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer, which required both radiation and chemotherapy treatment. With the help and support of his Crosier Community, relatives, and the CTU community, he was able to complete his treatment program in Chicago before transferring to the Crosier Community in Phoenix, Arizona. Before he left Chicago, CTU honored him by naming its technology center after him.
Music played a significant role in John’s life and had a strong hand in the music department at Crosier Seminary and the Crosier Community in Phoenix. He enjoyed listening to classical music and recordings of the Crosier Seminary Chorus, which he accompanied for ten years.
Following the surgery to remove the upper right lobe of his lung, the doctor told John that in a case like his, the cancer normally re-emerges in two years. Humbly, he said that he did not take for granted the fact that he had exceeded the two-year time limit. He was thankful for having his life and work collapse around him because it had brought a certain depth. He began using his energy and time to get closer to people in the real sense, not in the work sense, and to get closer to God.
John died from the effects of cancer on June 23, 2008, at the age of 72. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Friday, June 27, 2008, at the Crosier Priory Church in Onamia. Internment took place at the Neville family burial plot in Indiana.