Fr. Anthony Labedis, OFM Conv., 87, dies; funeral is Saturday at Holy Family, Peoria

Father Anthony Labedis, OFM Conv.l

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, at Holy Family Church in Peoria for Father Anthony Labedis, OFM Conv., a Kewanee native who was in residence at the parish for 10 years before moving to Palatine a year ago.

Father Tony, as he was known, died on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021, at St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly in Palatine. He was 87.

Visitation is planned from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11, at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 1010 Ferguson St., in Rockford, followed by Mass. A second visitation will take place in Peoria on Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Holy Family Church, 3720 N. Sterling Ave., followed by a wake service.

Interment will be at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Kewanee.


Born in Kewanee on May 29, 1933, Father Tony was the eldest of Anthony and Stacy Labedis’ eight children. He attended the former St. Stanislaus School there and, after his graduation in 1947, he went on to St. Mary’s Minor Seminary in Crystal Lake, under the direction of the Conventual Franciscans. Upon graduation in 1951, he then entered the community’s novitiate in Lake Forest. Father Tony made his first profession as a Franciscan friar on Aug. 14, 1952, and made his solemn profession on Aug. 14, 1955.

He studied philosophy and majored in science at Loyola University Chicago before completing his studies for the priesthood at the Province of Our Lady of Consolation in Chaska, Minnesota. He was ordained on Feb. 21, 1960.

His first assignments were as a high school teacher in California and then at the minor seminary in Crystal Lake. In 1966, Father Tony volunteered to serve as a missionary to Australia, working with miners, sheep herders and immigrants in various parts of the country.

After returning to the United States in 1972, he was involved in parish ministry in Illinois and Iowa, and served his community as vicar provincial, treasurer, and for three consecutive terms (1994-2005) as provincial minister. He returned to St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Rockford as associate pastor and then pastor, before coming to Peoria.

He was in residence at Holy Family Parish in Peoria from 2010 until early 2020, when declining health necessitated his move to St. Joseph Home for the Elderly in Palatine.

In a homily last February during a Mass marking the 60th anniversary of Father Tony’s ordination to the priesthood, Father Michael Zielke, OFM Conv. — provincial minister of the St. Bonaventure Province of the Conventual Franciscans — spoke of Father Tony’s faithfulness as he kept his heart, mind and soul open to what God was asking of him for six decades.

“Holy priests know they help all of us grow in holiness, to put God first in our lives,” said Father Michael. Father Tony, he said, had done that in many places, in many ways.

Father Tony is survived by his sister, Dolores, and his brother, Joe, as well as many nieces and nephews.  He was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers, Thomas, Bernie, and Andy; and two sisters, Marie and Anita.




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