Deacon Richard Hammel, 62, dies

A funeral Mass was offered at St. Ann’s Church in Peoria on April 3 for Deacon Richard F. Hammel, a member of the Diocese of Peoria’s first class of permanent deacons ordained in 1976.

Deacon Hammel, who spent much of his ministry as a volunteer chaplain at Proctor Hospital in Peoria and was granted senior deacon status last year, died Saturday, March 28, 2009, at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. He was 68.

Father Terry Cassidy, pastor of St. Ann’s Parish, was principal celebrant of the funeral Mass. Msgr. Charles Beebe, episcopal vicar for the permanent diaconate, also spoke, calling Deacon Hammel “a pioneer deacon.”

Deacon Hammel was one of 18 men ordained to the permanent diaconate by Bishop Edward W. O’Rourke on Dec. 12, 1976, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. Pope Paul VI had restored the permanent diaconate in the Roman Rite in 1967.

“When these folks were ordained this was something new in the church,” said Msgr. Beebe. Deacon Hammel, he noted, was the first deacon in the Diocese of Peoria to have a nearly full-time hospital ministry.

“All the deacons now engaged in hospital ministry are following in his footsteps,” he said.

Born April 12, 1940, in Cham-paign to Benjamin E. and Dorothy Sparks Hammel, Deacon Hammel was a graduate of Henry High School and Western Illinois University. He married Jo Wallace on Jan. 25, 1964, in Henry.

In addition to serving at Proctor Hospital, Deacon Hammel also assisted at St. Philomena’s Parish in Peoria before being assigned to St. Ann’s in recent years.

He is survived by his wife; one daughter Dodi (Geoffrey) Bibo of Powell, Ohio; one son, Rick (Joni Brands) Hammel of Eugene, Ore.; and five grandchildren. A sister, Virginia Wilkinson, preceded him in death.

Cremation rites were accorded. Memorials may be made to St. Ann Parish Center Fund or to P.A.W.S.

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