Deacon Frank Beil, 88, died Nov. 26 at his home in Glenview. He was ordained in 1984 and served at St. Catherine Laboure Parish in Glenview and St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Niles.
Born in Cleveland, he moved with his family to Oak Park as a child. After high school, he worked at his family’s furniture store and served in the U.S. Army.
He married his first love, Joan Ann Swinhart, while in the service in 1957. They had five children before she died 13 years later.
He met his second wife, Carolyn Elaine Wenzel, through the NAIM support group for Catholic widows and widowers. Deacon Beil adopted his new wife’s son, she adopted his children and they had one child together. At the time of his death, they had been married 51 years.
Deacon Beil worked in sales for Fruehauf and Pitney Bowes prior to starting his own business with his wife Carolyn.
In addition to his work at St. Catherine Laboure and St. Isaac Jogues, he trained as a chaplain at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and served as a chaplain at Resurrection Hospital.
Deacon Beil is survived by his wife, Carolyn, and six of his children: Julie Migacz, Laura Deters, Mark Beil, Brian Beil, Gene Beil, and David Beil-Adaskin; 12 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and his brother, David Beil.
Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Cecilia (Elianne) Davis, 82, died Nov. 17 in Hazel Green, Wisconsin.
Born in Nebraska, Sister Cecilia made her first religious profession in 1960 and her perpetual profession in 1965. She was a teacher and assistant principal, and cared for a family member. Sister Cecilia served in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois.
In the Archdiocese of Chicago, Sister Cecilia taught at St. Vincent Ferrer, River Forest (1970-1976); St. Giles, Oak Park (1976-1982), where she was also unit coordinator; St. Eulalia, Maywood (1986-1987); and Mary, Seat of Wisdom, Park Ridge (1987-1996). She was assistant principal at St. Domitilla, Hillside (1985-1986), and cared for a family member in River Forest (1999-2003).
Sister Cecilia is survived by a sister, Joan Hill, and a brother, Frank Davis.
Divine Word Father John “Jack” Farley, 90, died Nov. 17.
Born in Massachusetts, he entered the Society of the Divine Word in 1946 and professed religious vows in 1952. He was ordained a priest in 1960.
Despite his wish to serve overseas, after ordination, he was assigned to serve as assistant mission director for the Mission Office at Techny. He was editor of Missionary Youth magazine and director of the Latin America Office of the Divine Word Mission Office for 11 years.
He led a Divine Word Seminary in Perrysburg, Ohio, for five years before returning to Techny as director of programs and being charged with renovating the former St. Mary’s Seminary, turning it into Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center and creating Divine Word International, a museum that featured missionary work around the world and believed to be the only museum of its kind.
In 1980, upon completion of the renovation, he asked for a pastoral assignment and served as a retreat director in Massachusetts; as a seminary director in Washington, D.C.; and as a staff member for a parish renewal program with assignments in Nigeria, Ghana, India and the Philippines.
Father Farley retired in Techny in 2015.
He is survived by his twin sister, Notre Dame Sister Joan Farley.
Divine Word Father Richard Thibeau, 93, died Nov. 17.
Born in New York, he began his studies with the Divine Word Missionaries in 1943; professed vows in 1949; and was ordained to the priesthood in Techny in 1957.
For the first three decades of his priesthood, he served as pastor, teacher and overall general contractor in the United States, finding new ways to use the society’s buildings.
In 1988, Father Thibeau received his first foreign mission assignment, which took him to Cuernavaca, Mexico, where he served in an administrative capacity and built several parishes. Father Thibeau also provided pastoral care for the Zapotecas people in the Sierra Juarez Mountains. For this assignment, he needed more than his knowledge of Spanish; he learned Zapotecan, the language of the indigenous people.
During his years in San Juan Bautista Parish in San Juan Yaeé, Oaxaca, he was the only priest for a population of about 7,000, and he recognized the need for a medical facility. To reach the nearest hospital, residents had to travel five hours down the mountainside. To remedy this problem, Father Thibeau built Our Madonna of the Rosary Medical Center in Oaxaca.
In 2016, Father Thibeau moved to Divine Word Residence at Techny and continued his missionary ministries. From a distance and well into his 90s, he supported missionary projects in Mexico, including Instituto Infantil Teresita School in Morelos.
Dominican Friar Richard John (John Francis) Woods, 81, died Nov. 19 in Tallaght, Ireland, where he had been hospitalized for several months due to brain and neck injuries resulting from falls.
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he entered the Dominican novitiate in 1962 and professed simple vows in 1963. He earned bachelor’s (1964) and master’s (1966) degrees from the Dominican House of Philosophy at St. Thomas Priory in River Forest, and made his solemn vows in 1966.
In 1969, he was ordained to the priesthood after earning a master’s degree in theology from the Aquinas Institute of Theology in Iowa.
Following his ordination, Father Woods began doctoral studies at Loyola University Chicago, receiving a Ph.D. in the philosophy of religion in 1978. Among many other awards and honors, he received the honorary Master of Sacred Theology from the Dominican Order in 2000.
He taught at numerous institutions throughout the United States, including the Institute of Pastoral Studies of Loyola University Chicago and, from 2000-2022, Dominican University in River Forest. From 1991-1997, he was also a visiting tutor and lecturer at Blackfriars Hall, the University of Oxford, England.
Father Woods was a prolific producer of books articles, and lectures in professional journals and societies. His interest in and contribution to scholarship included spirituality and mysticism, sexuality, the Celtic harp (which he played masterfully), Celtic studies, the occult and Meister Eckhart. He also wrote or contributed to five volumes of fiction.