Fathers Leclercq, Shea granted senior status

Two priests of the Diocese of Peoria have been granted senior status by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC.

Father M. Duane Leclercq, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Granville, and St. Patrick’s Parish, Hennepin, will be honored at a celebration in Granville on Monday evening, May 19. He was also recognized with a party last Sunday in Hennepin on the occasion of his 70th birthday.

Meanwhile, Father Thomas Shea, 71, assistant at St. Patrick Church of Merna in Bloomington, plans to continue to help at the parish as needed after he reverts to senior status. Father Shea, a former pastor of St. Paul’s Parish in Danville, was granted the retirement status in 2001, but three years later returned to active priestly service as assistant at St. Patrick’s.

“People had me picked for a priest in the second grade,” Father Leclercq, a native of Spring Valley, told The Catholic Post this week. He credited his early pastors at Immaculate Conception Parish, especially Father Ralph Gates, with fostering his vocation. “It’s a great life to walk with the Lord,” he said of the priesthood. “It’s a great thing to get up and celebrate the Eucharist, especially on Sunday. Saying Mass is what I do and who I am.”

Born May 4, 1938, he attended Immaculate Conception Grade School in Spring Valley and St. Bede Academy and College in Peru. He completed his studies for the priesthood at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein.

Following ordination on May 31, 1964, he served as assistant at Holy Trinity, Bloomington, St. Mark’s, Peoria, St. Mary’s, Moline, and St. Vincent de Paul, Peoria. In 1976 Father LeClercq was named pastor of Sacre Coeur Parish, Creve Coeur, and three years later he became co-pastor of St. Edward’s, Chillicothe.

From 1983 to 1989 he was pastor of St. John’s, Clinton, and St. Patrick’s, Wapella, and in 1989 he was named pastor of St. Teresa’s, Earlville. He served as pastor of St. Bernard’s, Peoria, from 1991 to 1994, and for the next nine years was pastor of St. Patrick’s, LaSalle.

He has served the Granville and Hennepin parishes since 2003.

Father LeClercq summed up his philosophy as a pastor with the phrase: “Love the folks, say yes when you can.” He is a former director of the diocesan Teens Encounter Christ program.

The May 19 celebration at Sacred Heart in Granville will be a “wing ding,” he said. The Holy Name and Altar and Rosary societies are providing chicken wings and the rest of the dinner will be potluck.

Father LeClercq plans to reside in the Fish-N-Fun community on a 13-acre lake in McNabb.

Father Shea is a native of Bloomington. Born Nov. 16, 1936, he attended Trinity grade and high schools. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Illinois State University, he completed studies for the priesthood at Pope John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass.

Ordained on Feb. 2, 1973, he served as an assistant at St. Monica’s Parish in East Peoria for four years, and was also the vicar of the Pekin vicariate. From 1978 to 1988 he was pastor of St. Paul’s Parish in Danville. He was granted an extended leave of absence in 1988.

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