October 29, 2010

Father Patrick Commons also ministered in India

By Mary Ann Wyand

Father Patrick M. Commons, a retired diocesan priest, died on Oct. 17 at St. Paul Hermitage in Beech Grove, where he had resided since July 1, 2006. He was 86.

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Oct. 21 at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Milan. Burial followed at the parish cemetery in Milan.

Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein was the principal celebrant for the Mass. Father John Geis, a retired diocesan priest, was the homilist.

“He was a very gentle man,” Father Geis said. “People loved him. … He was a very dedicated priest. He was always very interested in taking care of the people’s needs.”

As the pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Milhousen from 1971 until 1976, Father Geis said, Father Commons coordinated an extensive construction project to repair major structural problems that had weakened the walls of the historic church, which was built in 1850.

“When he arrived there as the pastor, the people were attending Mass in the gymnasium because the church had been condemned,” Father Geis said. “The walls were expanding so he took on the project with the people to have some construction done to the church. They had to put in a steel structure to support the walls. He got the people back in the church again [for Masses].”

Father Commons provided part-time sacramental assistance at parishes for several years after his retirement, Father Geis said, and continued his priestly ministry part time at St. Paul Hermitage until 2009.

Patrick Michael Commons was born on Sept. 23, 1924, in Kokomo, Ind., where his parents, Patrick and Louise (Stuppy) Commons, were members of St. Patrick Parish.

He was a graduate of St. Anthony School in Kokomo; Holy Ghost Preparatory Seminary in East Troy, Mich.; St. Mary Seminary School of Theology in Techny, Ill.; Divine Word Seminary in Techny; and Loyola University in Chicago.

He was ordained to the priesthood on Aug. 22, 1951, by then Chicago auxiliary Bishop William Cousins in Techny for the Society of the Divine Word. Father Commons was a member of that missionary order from 1951 until 1970.

From January 1953 until December 1966, Father Commons served the Society of the Divine Word as a missionary priest in India.

After serving for 13 years at missions in India, he returned to the United States and began parish ministry in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

On Sept. 2, 1967, Father Commons was appointed the associate pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Indianapolis then was named the associate pastor of St. Lawrence Parish in Indianapolis on Sept. 30, 1967.

He was incardinated in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis on Oct. 9, 1970.

On Jan. 22, 1971, Father Commons began his first pastorate at Immaculate Conception Parish in Millhousen.

While continuing to serve as the pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, he was also named the administrator of St. Denis Parish in Jennings County on Feb. 23, 1972.

On Nov. 29, 1976, he was assigned to serve as the temporary associate pastor of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis.

Father Commons was appointed the pastor of St. Martin Parish in Yorkville on July 18, 1977.

The following year, he was named the pastor of St. Michael Parish in Charlestown on July 5, 1978.

On July 9, 1980, Father Commons was appointed the pastor of St. Rose Parish in Knightstown.

He began his final pastorates at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Milan and St. Pius Parish in Ripley County on July 8, 1987, and resided in Milan.

Father Commons retired from full-time ministry on July 7, 1993, for health reasons.

After moving to the Priests’ Retirement Wing at St. Paul Hermitage in 2006, he enjoyed assisting with Masses in the chapel and taking Communion to Hermitage residents who were unable to participate in liturgies.

Surviving are a sister, Noreen Van Slyke of Indianapolis, as well as many nieces and nephews.

Memorial gifts may be sent to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Archbishop O’Meara Catholic Center, 1400 N. Meridian St., P.O. Box 1410, Indianapolis, IN 46206. †

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