Fr. Francis E. Canfield, S.J.
Authored by Glen Chun, S.J., John Moriconi, S.J., with input from Dave Mastrangelo, S.J., and Tom Pipp, S.J.
Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of our brother, Fr. Francis E. Canfield, S.J., who died on May 6, 2023 at Colombiere Center Jesuit Community in Clarkston, Michigan. He was 87 years old. May he rest in peace.
Frank is preceded in death by his brother, Michael. He is survived by his sister, Mary (and her sons, David and Ryan), his sister-in-law, Gail (and her sons, Michael and Kevin), and many grand nieces and nephews.
Frank was born in Detroit, Michigan on February 1, 1936 and graduated from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School (UDJHS&A) before entering the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus on September 1, 1954. [He became a member of the Detroit Province when it was created in 1955.] He was ordained at Colombiere Center in Clarkston on June 14, 1967 and pronounced final vows at UDJHS&A on August 15, 1976.
While in the Society, Frank earned a Bachelor's Degree (1959) and a Master's Degree (1964) in Classics from Loyola University Chicago. He earned a Licentiate Degree in Philosophy from West Baden College in West Baden Springs, Indiana (1961). Frank was missioned to studies in Canada and earned a Master's of Theology and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from Regis College (1968). After ordination, he earned a Master's Degree in Psychology from the University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario (1970).
During Regency, Frank taught Latin at UDJHS&A (1961-1964). After completing his studies in Canada, Frank returned to his alma mater where he ministered for two decades (1970-1989). He taught (psychology, Theology, and Latin), was a student counselor, and served as principal of for one year (1975-1976). Frank then spent fifteen years as a student counselor and teacher at St. John's Jesuit (SJJ) High School in Toledo, Ohio. In addition to caring for the students of SJJ, Frank provided cura personalis to the Jesuits while he as superior of the community (1996-2002). Frank then companioned students, faculty, and staff at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland for eight years as a chaplain before being missioned to Colombiere Center in 2014.
Frank was a devoted Jesuit and priest. He was a great listener and, when talking with a student, parent, or colleague, made that person feel cared for and understood. Throughout his life, Frank dealt with health issues, but these did not keep him from being present to others. He always had an easy smile and offered words of encouragement to everyone he encountered. Always desiring to help others, Frank found it hard to say "no" when asked to do something (like attending the baseball game of one of the students he counseled or celebrating a wedding ceremony for an alumus). He kept in contact with may alumni and their families. While at Colombiere Center, many of Frank's friends would drive [sometimes] three or more hours on a weekend to visit with him. Of course, Frank was always gracious and hospitable to his guests.
Fr. Tom Pipp offered these thoughts:
A "high school Jesuit" through and through, Frank Canfield was a beloved friend, counselor, confessor, and teacher in the apostolates where he served: U of D High, St. John's Jesuit, and St. Ignatius High School. He was a deeply compassionate man, a man of prayer. Many - students, faculty, administrators, staff, and alumni - sought his wise counsel. He was always ready to listen. In giving advice, he offered sound insight and a word of challenge, if needed. Frank was most approachable - easy to talk to - and in this, he resembled the Lord, whom he served so well. Rest in peace, Frank.
Fr. Dave Mastrangelo reflects:
With his raspy, gravely voice, slightly hunched back, and impish grin, Frank Canfield touched countless souls fortunate enough to encounter him in his decades of service in southeast Michigan and northern Ohio. As a classroom teacher and track coach, Frank was a taskmaster, because he sought to develop the potential in his student-athletes that they often didn’t see in themselves. Even moreso, in his quietly charismatic way, Frank was the consummate high school counselor. He had an uncanny ability to lock onto the person he was with, hear with his heart, and offer wise yet practical advice. In so many cases, the relationships forged with students and their families lasted well beyond his initial contact with them. Even in his final years, Frank had a remarkable memory for names and the history behind those names.
Underlying Frank’s effectiveness as teacher, coach, and counselor was his deep faith in the Lord’s sustaining love and grace, experienced and forged to a large degree through his own struggles with leukemia, first diagnosed in the early ‘80s; with alcohol, which opened up a new ministry through AA; and even in the self-doubt and anxieties that sometimes crippled him.
I believe that even more important to Frank than his Jesuit identity was his call to be a priest. In his simple, down-to-earth, and humble way, Frank lived out his priesthood by understanding, accepting, and loving others, especially those troubled in any way or on the margins. Over the years, many sought Frank’s counsel, often when their souls were troubled. When Frank told someone he would pray for them, he really meant it, and did it, and they knew that. In word, and especially in deed, Frank served the Lord with great fidelity. Let us give thanks for his life among us and now for his new, eternal life with Christ.
Suffrages: As we remember with gratitude all that God has done through his life of service to God and God's people, we are reminded of our privilege and obligation to offer Masses and prayers for his eternal repose. All members of the USA Midwest Province and those applied are to offer one Mass intention. Members of the Colombire Jesuit Community will offer one additional Mass intention. All will wish to remember Frank in their prayers and Masses.
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
4:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Service 7:00 p.m.
9075 Big Lake Road
Clarkston, MI 48346-1015
Mass of Christian Burial:
Thursday, May 11, 2023
The Service and the Mass will be LiveStreamed at:
Colombiere Jesuit Community
c/o Bradley Schaeffer, S.J.
9075 Big Lake Road
Clarkston, MI 48346-1015
Mary Branson (sister)
3227 Cedarcrest Road
Acworth GA 30101
Hail Canfield (sister-in-law)
121 West Cypress CT #121
Oldsmar, FL 34677
Information from the Jesuits USA Midwest Province