Father Edward Dillon; pastor, chaplain - Catholic Courier

Father Edward Dillon; pastor, chaplain

Father Edward J. Dillon, whose priesthood in the Diocese of Rochester spanned more than 60 years, died Jan. 21, 2024. He was 88 years old.

Father Dillon was a native of Macedon’s St. Patrick Parish. He attended St. John Fisher College, St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries, and Rome’s Pontifical North American College before being ordained in Rome on Dec. 18, 1960. He studied in Rome until 1965, earning master’s and doctoral degrees in sacred theology.

Following several brief parish and teaching assignments, Father Dillon took a prolonged leave beginning in 1969, working in Philadelphia with the poor and an anti-war movement. He also ministered extensively to prisoners and ex-prisoners.

Upon returning to priestly ministry, he was associate pastor of Rochester’s Holy Family (1982-83) and Our Lady of Perpetual Help (1983) parishes; and chaplain at Monroe County Jail and Strong Memorial Hospital (1984-87).

Father Dillon then assumed his first pastorate, at Immaculate Conception in Rochester (1987-92). He went on to become pastor of St. Felix/St. Francis in Ontario County beginning in 1993, remaining in that role until attaining senior status in 2003.

As a senior priest, Father Dillon served at what is now St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Wayne County (2003-04); Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles (2004-07); and Livingston County’s St. Luke the Evangelist Parish and SUNY Geneseo campus ministry (2007-19). In more recent years, he resided and ministered at both St. Mary Church in Canandaigua and in Geneseo.

“Father Ed was the most remarkable person I have met in my life,” stated Mike Sauter, diocesan director of the Office of Pastoral Services, who was SUNY Geneseo’s campus minister when Father Dillon began ministering there in 2007. “He was one of most well-read people I’ve ever met, and certainly the most intelligent.” 

Sauter added that Father Dillon lived humbly and “kept his distance from any and all status games.” 

“He gave everything he had to the poor and down-and-outs, quite literally,” Sauter said, noting that the priest assisted struggling fathers — many of whom he had met while they were in jail — by covering their child-support payments. 

DeAnna Brennan, who coordinates a young-adult ministry at St. Benedict Parish in Canandaigua and Bloomfield, noted that Father Dillon served as the group’s spiritual director, frequently attending its monthly coffee hours.

“Many times we would be so enthralled by his conversations that we would lose track of time. Father Dillon had an incredible background, and in listening to the story of his life, it seemed almost impossible to have accomplished all of the things he had within his lifetime,” Brennan said. “Though there were many years between us, Father Dillon was relatable, relevant and brought a welcomed perspective to any conversation. He will be greatly missed, and his impact never forgotten.”

Father Dillon is survived by his nieces and nephews, Susan Dillon, Becky Tillett, Lori Dillon, Kathy Dillon, Mary Smith, Patricia Schilling, Eileen Schilling, Timothy Dillon, Patrick Dillon, Matthew Dillon and Michael Dillon.

Visitation for Father Dillon will take place Jan. 29, 2024, at 10 a.m. at St. Mary Church, 4 Avon Geneseo Road, Geneseo. His funeral Mass will immediately follow at 11 a.m., with Bishop Salvatore R. Matano presiding. Interment will be at St. Mary Cemetery, Geneseo. 

Memorial donations may be made to Catholic Charities of Livingston County, 10 Chapel St., Mount Morris, NY 14510.

Tags: Priests
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