Francis Lori, the father of Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, died Feb. 24 in Indiana, surrounded by the archbishop and other members of his family. He had been battling pneumonia. He was 98.

During World War II, Francis Lori served in the U.S. Navy on a ship that ferried ammunition to the Battle of Okinawa. After the war, he married Margaret (née Caradonna); the couple celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in January 2020.

The archbishop’s father spent 38 years with AT&T as a lineman, telephone installer, foreman and equipment manager.

On the occasion of his installation as archbishop of Baltimore in 2012, Archbishop Lori said his parents fostered his vocation to the priesthood. “One of the first things I must have come to know was how seriously Mom and Dad took their faith. The rosary was very much a part of our life, as was Sunday Mass. When Mom and Dad could, they were daily communicants.”

Archbishop Lori was ordained as a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington in 1977, and served as a parish priest and later as a priest secretary and as archdiocesan chancellor, vicar general and moderator of the Curia for Cardinal James Hickey, the archbishop of Washington from 1980 until his retirement in 2000. Archbishop Lori was ordained as a bishop 25 years ago in 1995, after Pope John Paul II named him as an auxiliary bishop of Washington, and he served in that role until being named as the bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 2001. Archbishop Lori has led the Archdiocese of Baltimore for the past eight years.

In a 1995 interview for a Catholic Standard article about their son being named as an auxiliary bishop for Washington, Francis Lori said, “It (our faith) comes first in our life.” Mr. and Mrs. Lori later watched on from the front pew as their son was ordained as a bishop at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Margaret and Francis Lori watch the 1995 ordination of their son, then-Bishop William Lori, as an auxiliary bishop of Washington at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. (Catholic Standard file photo by Michael Alexander)

In a homily in January 2020 for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and also to mark his mother’s 100th birthday and his parents’ wedding anniversary, Archbishop Lori said, “Your life and your marriage are a great blessing, certainly to us, your sons, whom you continue to love as only good parents can do, and indeed to all of us – because, in one way or another, we’ve been touched by your example of strong faith and enduring love.

“You have worked hard and you have faced challenges and hardships, but in the midst of it all, your love for each other and for us has only grown stronger,” the archbishop said. “I think of the loving care you gave to your eldest son, my brother Frankie; your ministry of visiting nursing homes, bringing the Eucharist and a word of cheer; your practice of praying the rosary every day; Sunday Mass without fail and daily Mass whenever possible; and the encouragement and love you continue to give your family and many others.”

In an interview for the Catholic Baltimore radio show at the end of 2019, the archbishop expressed his gratitude for his parents. “I’m so grateful to God that he saw fit to plop me into this particular family.” He said his parents worked hard all their life as members of what Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation.”

“Dad is a veteran of World War II. He was in the Navy on an LST (Landing Ship, Tank) near Okinawa, with kamikazes overhead. His ship was full of ammunition; he saw some pretty tough action.”

After he came back from the war, Francis and Margaret married at ages 26 and 27, respectively, which was considered “old” to get married at that time.

“We were not a wealthy family. We were a hard-working family, and they provided a beautiful, faith-filled home,” the archbishop recalled. “I had a brother (Frank) with special needs. I saw Mom and Dad not just go the extra mile, but go the extra five miles, and they loved my brother until he died several years ago with truly tender parental love.

“And they provided a good, beautiful, secure home for me and my other brother, Joe, and encouraged me in my priestly vocation. And to this day, I receive encouragement whenever I talk to my parents,” Archbishop Lori said in the radio interview.

Francis Lori is survived by his wife, Margaret, and his sons Archbishop Lori and Joseph Lori. He was preceded in death by his son, Frank. 

(This article is reprinted with permission from the Catholic Review, the website and magazine of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.)