Fr. Evan Eckhoff
Evan Eckhoff OFM
died of liver failure at the age of 81 on Tuesday evening, November 15, 2011, at 10:48pm
in his room at Villa West in Sherman, Illinois, with hospice care assisting.
Evan, baptized “Theodore,” was born on August 18, 1930, in St. Louis, Missouri. His
parents were Joseph and Mary (nee Vogelweld) Eckhoff. He became a novice in the Order
of Friars Minor on July 4, 1950; professed solemn vows on July 5, 1954; and was ordained
a priest on June 24, 1957. In an interview when he was in Knoxville, Evan indicated that
the three main inspirations for becoming a priest were his two paternal uncles and Bishop
Fulton J. Sheen.
His first year after ordination was in pastoral formation at St. Francis Solanus Parish
in Quincy, Illinois. Then he served for a year as chaplain of Nazareth Academy in LaGrange, Illinois, while
living at St. Paschal’s Friary in Westmont (Oak Brook). In 1960 he moved to Corpus Christi Parish on the
south side of Chicago to be an assistant in the parish and an instructor at Corpus Christi High School. After
two years he lived at St. Anthony of Padua Friary in St. Louis, Missouri, while pursuing studies at St. Louis
University and serving as a jail chaplain.
Evan then spent five years (1964-1969) as a teacher at Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago. He
moved into parish work for six year as assistant pastor at Guardian Angels in Chaska, Minnesota, and as
administrator of St. Nicholas Parish in nearby Carver. After this he took up the retreat ministry for nine years,
first at Good Counsel Retreat House in Waverly, Nebraska (1975-1978), and then at St. Francis Retreat House
in Oak Brook, Illinois (1978-1984).
For nine more years Evan went back into parochial work as pastor of the churches in Chamois and
Morrison, Missouri, while living at St. George’s Friary in Hermann. During this period he took a break in 1991
to study in Baltimore, Maryland.
Evan’s ministry took another significant turn in 1993 when he moved to Alverna Friary in Knoxville,
Tennessee, for nine years. At first he worked in family life ministry in the diocese and, when he became “semiretired”
in 2001, he took up supply ministry for the parishes in the area as well as chaplain of St. Mary Medical
Center in Knoxville and part-time chaplain at St. Mary’s Hospice in Halls, Tennessee. When the Knoxville
Friary closed, he stayed in Knoxville to maintain his chaplaincies but was part of the St. Vincent Community of
In 2010 Evan moved to Sherman, Illinois, into full retirement because of his fragile health. Some time
before his move he had become so deaf that he had a cochlear implant. What brought him to Sherman was a
kind of physical deterioration that caused him to lose weight, strength, and mobility but was not able to be
Evan’s good friend, long-time tennis partner, and classmate Ken Rosswog OFM said of him: “I admired
Evan as a person who had high ideals and expectations for himself, and put a great deal of effort into
achieving the goals he set. He was an inspiration for me. He aimed to live the Franciscan life as it should be
lived. He was a very prayerful person and kept reminding me of the importance of meditation and
contemplation. Just as he had high expectations for himself, he had high expectations for others also and
found it very frustrating that others did not live up to his expectations. I admired his spirit of acceptance
during these difficult months of ill health. He was able to put his suffering into the Lord’s hands. He was
looking forward to being with the Lord.”
May Evan rest in peace!
The Funeral Services for Evan Eckhoff OFM will take place on Saturday, November 19, 2011, at the chapel of Villa
West in Sherman, Illinois (100 Stardust Drive, 62684-9763; 1.800.244.4444). The reception of the body and
prayer service with the sharing of memories will begin at 9:30 am with visitation following. The Mass of Christian
Burial will be celebrated there at 11:00am. A luncheon will follow. Burial will be at a later date in the Friars’
Section of Calvary Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois.