April 28, 2023

Father John Fink noted for serving parishioners in tragedy and joy

By Sean Gallagher

Father John FinkFather John Fink, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, died on April 17 at the Harrison Springs Health Campus in Corydon. He was 79.

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on April 21 at St. Michael Church in Bradford where he served as pastor from 2003-13. Archbishop Charles C. Thompson was the principal celebrant. Deacon John Jacobi was the homilist.

Burial followed at St. Michael Cemetery in Bradford.

A priest of the archdiocese for 53 years, Father Fink served in parishes across central and southern Indiana.

Deacon Jacobi, who served with Father Fink at St. Michael, recalled that he was at his best when ministerting to people who were suffering.

“Father John excelled when they needed him the most,” Deacon Jacobi said. “He was known for sitting with families at the hospital. He wanted to enter into the sadness, the tragedy or the joy—wherever people were—and just be with them. It’s the idea of accompaniment that Pope Francis talks about.”

Having ministered with him for a decade, Deacon Jacobi reflected on where Father Fink found the strength to minister in many difficult moments in the lives of the families he served.

“It grew out of his love for the Eucharist, the way that he preached, the way that he presided at the liturgy,” Deacon Jacobi said. “That was what led him out to sit with people and walk with them. The peace of Christ was with him, and he wanted to share that with others.”

Joan Livingston knew that peace from the first moment that she met Father Fink after he had been appointed in 1998 as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville. Livingston was principal of the parish’s school at the time.

“From that minute, we had a bond,” Livingston said.

“I always said he was like my third brother. I told him that.

“He was very interested in my kids and what they were doing. He just made you feel like you belonged.”

Even after Father Fink left St. Joseph in 2003 to serve at St. Michael Parish in Bradford, he continued to reach out to Livingston and her family, assisting at the weddings of her children and being present to the family when one of Livingston’s grandchildren died as an infant.

“I loved him, and my kids and grandkids loved him—everybody,” Livingston said.

Deacon Jacobi seeks to emulate Father Fink in his ministry as director of religious education and coordinator of youth ministry at St. Michael Parish in Bradford and St. Bernard Parish in Frenchtown. He also serves as deacon in those parishes and at St. Joseph Parish in Crawford County.

He was discerning a call to the diaconate close to the time that Father Fink retired from active ministry in 2013.

Father Fink wrote a recommendation for him in his application for the archdiocese’s deacon formation program.

“Father John was somewhat comfortable with the uncomfortableness of the Gospel,” Deacon Jacobi said. “In his preaching, he wasn’t afraid to make people feel awkward a little bit. The Gospel calls us to something more, something beyond ourselves.

“That appealed to me. ... I want to be the kind of servant that I saw Father John be.”

John Leo Fink was born on May 20, 1943, to Edward and Helen (Hayes) Fink in Indianapolis.

Baptized at St. Patrick Church in Indianapolis, he grew up as a member of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Beech Grove.

Father Fink became an archdiocesan seminarian after graduating from the eighth grade at Holy Name of Jesus School.

He received his priestly formation at Bishop Bruté Latin School in Indianapolis, the archdiocese’s former high school seminary; the former St. Mary College Seminary in St. Mary, Ky.; and at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and St. Louis University, both in St. Louis.

Father Fink was ordained a priest on May 24, 1969, by Archbishop Paul C. Schulte at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. He celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving the following day at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Beech Grove.

In his first assignment, Father Fink served from 1969-70 as associate pastor of St. Mary Parish in North Vernon.

From 1970-75, he ministered as associate pastor of the former St. Michael Parish in Madison while also serving as an instructor at Father Michael Shawe Memorial High School there.

Father Fink served for a year as associate pastor of St. Simon the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis from 1975-76.

In 1976, Father Fink was appointed pastor of St. Bernard Parish in Frenchtown and Our Lord Jesus Church the King Parish in Paoli, which at the time was a mission church. He served at both parishes until 1982.

From 1982-87, Father Fink ministered as the pastor of the former St. Mary and St. Michael parishes in Madison.

Father Fink served as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Albany from 1987-98.

He was then appointed as administrator, then pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville, serving there until 2003. In 2001, Father Fink began service as priest moderator of St. Peter Parish in Franklin County, continuing in that assignment until 2003.

In that year, he was appointed pastor of St. Michael Parish in Bradford, serving there until his retirement from active ministry in 2013.

While at St. Michael, Father Fink also ministered a second time as pastor of St. Bernard Parish in Frenchtown from 2006-13. He also served as administrator of St. Joseph Parish in Crawford County from 2006-13.

Memorial gifts may be sent to Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary, 2500 Cold Spring Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46222; and to St. Michael Parish, 11400 Farmers Lane NE, Greenville, IN 47124. †

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