Father Harold Schmitt, 90, dies; funeral Mass will be Tuesday morning in Henry

Father Harold Schmitt

HENRY — A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 24, at St. Mary Church here for Father Harold F. Schmitt, 90, a senior priest of the Diocese of Peoria who had served as pastor of several parishes, including eight years as rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.

Father Schmitt, a native of Henry who celebrated the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination in 2019, died on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, at Lacon Rehab and Nursing, formerly St. Joseph Home, where he had previously served as chaplain.

Msgr. Philip Halfacre will be the principal celebrant of the funeral Mass, with Father Robert Rayson as homilist. Burial will follow at Calvary Cemetery in Henry.

Visitation is planned from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 23, at St. Mary Church of St. John XXIII Parish, 401 South St. in Henry. The rosary will be recited at 4:30 p.m. Visitation will also take place from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the church prior to Tuesday’s funeral.

Born Feb. 7, 1931, in Henry, he was the oldest of nine children of Fred J. and Helen T. (Stahler) Schmitt. He graduated from St. Mary Grade School in Henry and, after one year at St. Bede Academy in Peru, he transferred to the Pontifical College Josephinum in Worthington, Ohio, where he completed his high school, college, and seminary studies.

Father Schmitt was ordained to the priesthood at the college on May 30, 1959, by Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi, apostolic delegate to the United States.

His first assignments in the Diocese of Peoria were as parochial vicar of St. Patrick Parish in Ottawa, Immaculate Conception Parish, Monmouth, and St. Philomena Parish, Peoria.

In 1972, he was named pastor of the parishes of Immaculate Conception, Carthage; Sacred Heart, Dallas City; and St. Mary, West Point. Two years later, he served for one year as co-pastor of St. Philomena Parish in Peoria and then briefly as administrator of St. Augustine Parish, St. Augustine, and St. Patrick Parish, Raritan.

After three years as pastor of St. Mary Parish in DePue, Father Schmitt was named rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, where he served from 1978 to 1986 and was the first chair of a committee planning a major renovation of the cathedral. Before that project was completed, he was named pastor of St. Mary Parish, Kewanee, where he also served for eight years.

His final assignments were as pastor of St. Maria Goretti Parish, Coal Valley, St. Mary Parish, Ottawa, and finally as chaplain of the Daughters of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Joseph’s Nursing Home in Lacon from 1998 until being granted senior status in 2014.

On the occasion of his 50th anniversary of ordination, Father Schmitt called a priestly vocation “a special gift,” adding that his years of ministry were very satisfying.

He was a member of the Lacon Knights of Columbus, Eugene M. Dunn Council No. 8321.

He is survived by his brothers, Richard (Barbara) Schmitt of Tiskilwa and Gerald Schmitt of Henry; and sisters, Sharon Jason and Joy (Bernard) Wunder of Lacon, Betty Shearer of Henry, and Pam (Ernest) Waldschmidt of Lacon.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Lawrence Schmitt; a sister, Mary Lou (Doc) Jason; a sister-in-law, Judy Schmitt; and brother-in-laws George Jason and Bill Shearer.

Memorials may be made to the St. John XXIII Parish building fund or the Daughters of St. Francis of Assisi in Lacon.

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