Fr. Gerald Verdun, 79, pastor who loved traveling, dies; funeral Aug. 28 in Pontiac

Father Gerald Verdun

PONTIAC — A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 28, at St. Mary Church here for Father Gerald J. Verdun, a senior priest of the Diocese of Peoria who had served as pastor of 10 different parishes in his 49 years of priestly life.

Father Verdun, who was also known for his love of travel, died on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021 at his residence at Evenglow Lodge in Pontiac. He was 79.

Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka is the scheduled celebrant of the funeral Mass, with Father David Heinz as homilist.

Visitation is set from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 27, at St. Mary Church, 119 E. Howard St., with a wake service starting at 3:30 p.m. A second visitation will take place on Saturday morning from 10 a.m. until the funeral Mass.

Burial will follow at St. Paul Cemetery in Odell.

FROM ODELL TO AIR FORCE TO SEMINARY

Born March 3, 1942, in Pontiac to James F. and Helen F. (Mann) Verdun, he attended St. Paul Grade and High Schools in Odell. He then served four years in the United States Air Force with assignments in Japan and Pakistan.

After an honorable discharge in 1966, he attended St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, graduating in 1968, and then prepared for the priesthood at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Father Verdun was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Edward W. O’Rourke at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on May 20, 1972.

His early assignments were as parochial vicar at St. Patrick Parish, Danville; St. Joseph Parish, Pekin; and Epiphany Parish, Normal.

In 1978, he was named pastor of the faith communities of Immaculate Conception, Carthage;  St. Mary’s, West Point; and Sacred Heart, Dallas City. Two years later he began nine years of service as pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Colfax, and St. Rose, Strawn.

From 1989 to 1993, Father Verdun was parochial vicar at St. Matthew Parish, Champaign. After one year as pastor of the parishes of St. Anthony and St. Casimir in Streator, he was named pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Pekin in 1994.

Father Verdun’s final assignment of his active priestly ministry was as pastor of St. Mary Parish, Delavan, and St. Joseph Parish, Hopedale, which he served from 2000 until he was granted senior status in 2012.

VISITED MORE THAN 100 COUNTRIES

Having visited several countries while serving in the military, he continued traveling until 2013. Father Verdun led several groups on tours of Europe and the Holy Land and visited more than 100 countries.

He is survived by his sister, Sheila (Gary) Eggenberger of Pontiac; two brothers, R. Keith (Patricia) Verdun of Pontiac and Charles (Lynne) Verdun of Odell; three stepsisters, Marcella Nicholson of Escalon, California; Virginia Norris of Rockford; and Evelyn (Bob) Broerman of Pontiac; and four stepbrothers, Paul (Julie) Stoeckel of Bloomington; Pat Stoeckel of Bloomington; Michael (Deb) Stoeckel of Grayslake; and Mark (Tricia) Stoeckel of Odell. Also surviving are numerous nieces and nephews and their children. Preceding him in death were his parents and stepsister, Mary Stelow.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Paul Grade School, Odell, St. Paul Parish, Odell, or Evenglow Lodge in Pontiac.

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