Divine Word Father Donald Ehr, 87, a beloved parish priest in African-American parishes in Chicago, died Aug. 19 in Techny.
Born in Iowa, he entered the Divine Word high school seminary in East Troy, Wisconsin in 1943 at age 14. He professed religious vows in 1948 and was ordained in 1955. He was sent to Rome to complete a doctorate in systematic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. When he returned to the United States in 1960, he served as professor of dogma at St. Mary Seminary in Techny.
In 1968, he was elected provincial superior of the Society of the Divine Word’s Eastern Province and served three three-year terms. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Father Ehr was rector of Divine Word Seminary in Washington, D.C. and Bordentown, N.J., while also working as a hospital chaplain.
He was named pastor of Chicago’s St. Elizabeth Parish in 1984 and remained until 2000. He then was a priest-in-residence at St. Anselm Parish until the week before he died.
He is survived by three brothers, Ronald, Irvin and Francis Ehr, and two sisters, Mary Vogel and Marlene Chaudoir.
BVM Sister Mary Jamesita Keller, 80, died Aug. 15 in Dubuque, Iowa.
Born in Joliet, Illinois, she entered the BVM congregation in 1954 and professed first vows in 1961.
In the Archdiocese of Chicago, Sister Mary Jamesita taught elementary school at St. Thomas of Canterbury, St. Eugene and St. Joseph, Round Lake.
She is survived by a brother, James Keller.
Sister of the Living Word Laurita (Virginia) Saunders, 96, died Aug. 9 at Presence Resurrection Life Center in Chicago.
Born in Massachusetts, she moved to Chicago with her family. She graduated from Wilmette Mallinckrodt High School in 1939 and joined the Sisters of Christian Charity. She made her final vows in 1948.
In the Archdiocese of Chicago, Sister Laurita taught at St. Raphael (1954-1959) and St. Theresa, Palatine (1968-1975).
After 27 years as a Sister of Christian Charity, Sister Laurita joined 89 other sisters to form the new Sisters of the Living Word. She served as director of religious education and adult education at Sacred Heart, Palos Hills (1975-1976); St. Ita (1976-1978) and St. Joseph the Worker, Wheeling (1978-1983). She then ministered at St. Mary, Evanston (1984-1986) and taught math at Pope John XXIII School, Evanston (1986-1987).
In 1988, she started her ministry as hospitality coordinator at the Living Word Center in Arlington Heights.
Divine Word Father Patrick Fincutter, 88, a longtime missionary in Papua New Guinea, died in Techny July 19.
Over the course of 40 years, Father Fincutter served the people of the world’s second largest island nation as priest, pilot, mechanic and professional communicator.
Born in Libertyville, Father Fincutter said he knew from the time he was a child that he wanted to be a pilot and a priest. Eventually, he chose the priesthood and only later learned that the Divine Word Missionaries relied on air travel in New Guinea and had founded a transportation hub called Wirui Air Services.
He professed vows at Techny in 1948 and in 1955 was ordained to the priesthood.
In 1961, he fulfilled his lifelong dream. For nine years, he flew Cessna 180s and Dornier Do 27s as a mission pilot, fulfilling assignments that included medical emergency flights and supply deliveries.
In 2001, he returned to the United States. He moved to Techny in 2013.
He is survived by two brothers, Robert Fincutter and Divine Word Father John Fincutter, SVD.
Deacon William J. Reinert, 82, died Aug. 27 at Lutheran Home & Services, Arlington Heights. He was 82 years old and had served at St. Raymond Parish, Mount Prospect, and St. James Parish, Arlington Heights.
Born in Chicago, he graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1957. He worked for with Northshore and WE Energies before spending 37 years at Peoples Gas.
Deacon Reinert was a 4th Degree member and Past Grand Knight of Knights of Columbus, Holy Rosary Council #4483 and the Elizabeth Ann Seton Assembly.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Joan; his children William Reinert, Patricia Julian and Robert Reinert; his grandchildren Samuel, Joseph, Elizabeth and Alyssa; and his brother, John Reinert.