Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Francis X. Frey Dec. 7, 1928 - Aug. 29, 2014 Monsignor Lived a Vocation of Joy

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Francis X. Frey Dec. 7, 1928 - Aug. 29, 2014 Monsignor Lived a Vocation of Joy

Article excerpt

As a young man, he thought he couldn't live his dream of becoming a Roman Catholic priest because he stuttered. But if he did stutter, hardly anyone noticed, and now the late Monsignor Francis X. Frey is remembered for more than half a century as a priest, serving growing Catholic parishes in West Texas and then congregations elsewhere in retirement.

Monsignor Frey, who spent his last years here, died Friday at age 85 of a type of stomach cancer, at the Family Hospice and Palliative Care Center in Mt. Lebanon. His final illness came several years after he survived the normally fatal diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

He enjoyed preaching, praying, building up congregations, traveling, gardening, swimming, walking, cooking and just being with friends and relatives, his family said.

"If one word would describe him, it's just joy," said his sister- in-law, Sue Frey of Spring, Texas, a Houston suburb where Monsignor Frey lived briefly after retirement.

Wherever he served - including saying a weekday noon Mass at Holy Child Church in Bridgeville until his final months - he had a "way of giving homilies that really touched people's hearts," said his sister, Alice Kenawell of Bridgeville, where he lived the last few years.

Former parishioners kept in touch from decades past. His former bishop called from Texas in his final hours, and Ms. Kenawell put the phone to her brother's ear as the bishop told of the service he had done for thousands of people.

Monsignor Frey grew up in Shadyside, the ninth of 13 children born to J.W.A. Frey and Ellen M. Frey.

The family was deeply devout, many of them serving at the altar or in the church choir, activities that instilled in him a lifelong love of music and liturgy, which he later sought to pass on to youths in the parish schools of Texas where he served.

Two older brothers became Roman Catholic priests and a sister became a nun.

He went to St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana, expecting to become a Benedictine monk, believing a stutter would keep him out of the pulpit. "I never noticed that he stuttered," recalled Ms. Kenawell, and soon enough colleagues at St. Meinrad encouraged him to become a priest. …

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