November 22, 2019

Father Jack Porter served in parishes and as archdiocesan archivist

By Sean Gallagher

Father Jack PorterFather Jack Porter, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, died on Nov. 12 at the St. Paul Hermitage in Beech Grove. He was 92.

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Nov. 16 at the St. Paul Hermitage chapel. Msgr. William F. Stumpf, archdiocesan vicar general, was the principal celebrant of the Mass. Father Gerald Kirkhoff was the homilist.

Burial followed in the priest circle at St. Joseph Cemetery in Indianapolis.

Father Kirkhoff, archdiocesan director for advocacy for priests, did much to assist Father Porter in recent years as the late priest’s health declined. He reflected on how Father Porter during his years of ministry in parishes was known for the pastoral care he gave to the faithful through the sacrament of penance.

“He brought people mercy and, through the love of Jesus, to the Eucharist,” Father Kirkhoff said. “He supported them and sustained them. The Mass was very important to him toward the end of his days [especially] when he couldn’t celebrate it.”

Father Porter also put his personal gifts to work in his priestly life and ministry in historical research.

He had worked as a history professor before being ordained at age 47 in 1975. In addition to serving as archdiocesan archivist and historian, Father Porter collaborated with his friend Father William Stineman, who died in 2005, in compiling a complete necrology of all the priests of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. It dates back to its founding in 1834 as the Diocese of Vincennes, Ind.

Jack Wallace Porter was born on July 28, 1927, in Bartow, Fla., to Wilburn and Nellie (Duren) Porter. He was baptized as a young adult on Dec. 21, 1950, in Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.

Father Porter earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at DePaul University in Chicago and a doctorate in history at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wis. He later taught history at DePaul University, Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., and at Illinois State University in Normal, Ill.

After discerning a call to the priesthood and becoming an archdiocesan seminarian, Father Porter received priestly formation at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad.

Archbishop George J. Biskup ordained Father Porter to the priesthood on June 7, 1975, at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. He celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving the following day at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Greencastle.

Father Porter’s first pastoral assignment was as associate pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis. In 1976, he served as associate pastor of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis.

In November of that year, Father Porter was assigned as administrator pro tempore of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle. While serving in Greencastle, he also ministered at DePauw University and at the nearby Putnamville Correctional Facility.

From 1979-93, Father Porter served as associate pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. He also served as the administrator of Holy Trinity Parish in Edinburgh from 1985-87. He provided sacramental assistance in 1987 at the former Assumption Parish in Indianapolis.

Beginning in 1993, Father Porter began service as the archdiocesan archivist. He was named the archdiocesan historian in 1997. In 1999, he retired from active ministry.

Memorial contributions may be sent to the St. Paul Hermitage, 501 N. 17th Ave., Beech Grove, IN 46107, or to the Retired Priests of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, 1400 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46202. †

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