Funeral services in Princeville for Fr. Ed Purcell, 82

PRINCEVILLE — A funeral Mass was to be offered at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 23, at St. Mary of the Woods Church here for Father James Edward Purcell, a native of Princeville whose 56 years of priestly life included parish work as well as service to hospitals and schools.

Father Purcell, who had been on senior priest status since 1997, died on Monday, Oct. 19, 2009, at OSF St. Clare Home in Peoria Heights. He was 82.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, was the scheduled celebrant of the funeral Mass, with Father Glenn Harris as homilist. Burial was to be in St. Mary of the Woods Cemetery.

BORN APRIL 27, 1927, at his family’s home in rural Princeville to Edward C. and Eliabeth J. (Colgan) Purcell, he attended Wilson Grade School and Princeville Community High School.
In a 2003 interview with The Catholic Post as he celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, Father Purcell attributed his interest in the priesthood to the example of his pastor, Father Joe Gordon. “He came to the high school religion class and somehow it impressed me that what he did was important,” Father Purcell recalled.
After two years at St. Ambose College in Davenport, Iowa, Father Purcell entered St. Louis Preparatory Seminary in Missouri. He completed studies for the priesthood at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana and was ordained for the Diocese of Peoria on May 3, 1953.

He served as parochial vicar at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria for one year before undertaking graduate studies at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., from which he earned a master’s degree in education. Upon his return to the diocese, he became parochial vicar at St. Peter’s Parish in Peoria and also assistant superintendent of schools.

Father Purcell resided at St. Francis Hospital, Peoria, from 1956 to 1961, when he was named director of Corpus Christi High School in Galesburg and chaplain at St. Mary’s Hospital there.

FROM 1962 to 1966, Father Purcell was parochial vicar at St. Philomena’s Parish, Peoria, and then erved for one year as pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Arlington before assignments as parochial vicar at Holy Cross, Champaign, and Holy Family, Peoria. In 1973, he became co-pastor of St. Mary’s Parish, Moline, and three years later began a decade of service as chaplain of Franciscan Medical Center in Rock Island.

He would later recall his medical center experience as “very broadening and interesting.”

He returned to St. Philomena’s, Peoria, as an assistant in 1986, and from 1991 until his move to senior status in 1997 he served as pastor of St. Luke’s Parish in Eureka.

Father Purcell is a former chaplain of the Spalding Council Knights of Columbus and also served as chaplain of the St. Brendan’s Society. In his retirement years he assisted at Peoria-area parishes and was a frequent visitor to nursing homes.

HE IS survived by two sisters, Elizabeth Murphy of rural Wyoming and JoAnne Ringness Shekleton of Peoria; one borther, J. Joseph Purcell of Peoria; as well as 11 nieces and nephews and several great-nieces and great?nephews. His parents and a sister, Mary Ellen Boylan, preceded him in death.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Knights of Columbus Spalding Council 427, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, or the charity of the donor’s choice.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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