Father Francis J. Erb, who spent most of his 66-year priesthood serving Southern Tier parishes in the Diocese of Rochester, died July 2, 2020, at Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa. He was 91 years old.
Father Erb was a Rochester native who grew up in St. Ambrose Parish. He attended Aquinas Institute as well as St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries and was ordained June 5, 1954, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
He served as assistant pastor at St. Patrick, Elmira (1954-60); St. Michael, Rochester (1960-61); St. Rita, Webster (1961-68); Sacred Heart, Auburn (1968); St. Mary, Elmira (1968-72); and St. Anthony, Rochester (1972-73).
His first pastorate was at St. Pius V in Cohocton from 1973-75. He then served as pastor of St. Joachim, Canisteo, and St. Mary, Rexville, from 1975-76. His final and lengthiest priestly assignment was at St. Catherine of Siena in Addison, where he served as pastor from 1976 until reaching senior-priest status in 1993.
For the next 15 years, he traveled the diocese and filled in for priests who were ill, on vacation or on sabbatical. In recent years, he assisted at Ss. Isidore and Maria Torribia Parish (St. Catherine of Siena, Addison; St. Stanislaus, Bradford; and St. Joseph, Campbell), regularly celebrating three weekend Masses and also serving as part-time chaplain at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Elmira.
Father Patrick Connor, current pastor of Ss. Isidore and Maria Torribia, noted that Father Erb was well-known for his humorous and effective homilies.
“He usually had a funny story or joke to leave people with a smile. But his homilies had wisdom and good, simple teaching that touched the heart,” Father Connor said.
Father Connor added that Father Erb “would walk down the aisle of church before Mass greeting people. His smile and his friendliness will always be remembered.”
In a 2019 Catholic Courier story noting the 65th anniversary of his ordination, Father Erb commented, “I am very grateful to almighty God for all of the places he’s sent me. I had many wonderful experiences and am very grateful for all the people I met and how good they were to me.”
Father Erb is survived by many cousins, including Sister Helen Marie Yockel, SSpS, and Sister Gertrude Erb, RSM.
Calling hours for Father Erb will be Friday, July 10, from 10 a.m. to noon at St. Catherine of Siena Church, 51 Maple St., Addison. His funeral Mass will follow beginning at noon. In keeping with COVID-19 regulations, the wearing of face masks, social distancing, 33-percent building capacity and other health requirements will be observed for the calling hours and Mass. Those wishing to attend the Mass are asked to call the church office at 607-359-2115 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot. Interment will take place at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Addison.
Donations in Father Erb’s memory may be made to Ss. Isidore and Maria Torribia Parish, 51 Maple St., Addison, NY 14801.