Francis Lori, left, is shown with his wife, Margaret, and son, Archbishop William E. Lori. (CR file)
Francis Lori, father of Archbishop William E. Lori, died Feb. 24 in Indiana, surrounded by the archbishop and other members of his family. He had been battling pneumonia. He was 98.
Francis Lori served his country on a U.S. Navy ship that ferried ammunition to the Battle of Okinawa. After World War II, he married Margaret (née Caradonna); the couple celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in January.
The archbishop’s father spent 38 years with AT&T as a lineman, telephone installer, foreman and equipment manager.
On the occasion of his installation as archbishop of Baltimore, Archbishop Lori said his parents fostered his vocation to the priesthood. “One of the first things I must have come to know was how seriously Mom and Dad took their faith. The rosary was very much a part of our life, as was Sunday Mass. When Mom and Dad could, they were daily communicants.”
The archbishop’s third-grade teacher was Sister Mary Viator, whose name rang a bell with his father. “I was raised in an orphanage (in Vincennes, Ind.),” Francis Lori said in 2012. “It was one and the same; she had been one of my teachers there.”
In a homily in January 2020 for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and also to mark his mother’s 100th birthday and his parents’ wedding anniversary, Archbishop Lori said, “Your life and your marriage are a great blessing, certainly to us, your sons, whom you continue to love as only good parents can do, and indeed to all of us – because, in one way or another, we’ve been touched by your example of strong faith and enduring love.
“You have worked hard and you have faced challenges and hardships, but in the midst of it all, your love for each other and for us has only grown stronger,” the archbishop said. “I think of the loving care you gave to your eldest son, my brother Frankie; your ministry of visiting nursing homes, bringing the Eucharist and a word of cheer; your practice of praying the rosary every day; Sunday Mass without fail and daily Mass whenever possible; and the encouragement and love you continue to give your family and many others.”
In an interview for the Catholic Baltimore radio show at the end of 2019, the archbishop expressed his gratitude for his parents. “I’m so grateful to God that he saw fit to plop me into this particular family.” He said his parents worked hard all their life as members of what Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation.”
“Dad is a veteran of World War II. He was in the Navy on an LST (Landing Ship, Tank) near Okinawa, with kamikazes overhead. His ship was full of ammunition; he saw some pretty tough action.”
After he came back from the war, Francis and Margaret married at ages 26 and 27, respectively, which was considered “old” to get married at that time.
“We were not a wealthy family. We were a hard-working family, and they provided a beautiful, faith-filled home,” the archbishop recalled. “I had a brother (Frank) with special needs. I saw Mom and Dad not just go the extra mile, but go the extra five miles, and they loved my brother until he died several years ago with truly tender parental love.
“And they provided a good, beautiful, secure home for me and my other brother, Joe, and encouraged me in my priestly vocation. And to this day, I receive encouragement whenever I talk to my parents,” Archbishop Lori said in the radio interview.
Funeral arrangements in Indiana are pending.
Francis Lori is survived by his wife, Margaret, and his sons Archbishop Lori and Joseph Lori. He was preceded in death by his son, Frank.
Another family to celebrate