Loras College lost an influential member of the institution’s rich history when former president, Monsignor Francis Friedl, passed away on Monday, Sept. 18. His final moments were spent at Stonehill Care Center here in Dubuque. He served as Loras’ 20th president from 1971-1977.
His involvement in the Dubuque community earned him the Telegraph Herald’s First Citizen Award in 2008. In 2013, when Loras began its largest fundraising campaign, Monsignor Friedl presented the institution with $175,000. That was $1,000 for each year Loras has been an institution. This action helped kick start the campaign, its end result raising over $100 million.
Monsignor Friedl first got involved with Loras as an undergraduate student until his graduation in 1939. He had a hard time making ends meet as a young man since he was one of nine in his family. Stories told that he would often have to hitchhike to get back to Dubuque. Yet, Loras made sure to make tuition affordable, even back then. He never forgot that and it drove him to present the large $175,000 donation back in 2013.
After graduating Loras, he entered the seminary at Mount St. Mary in Norwood, OH. Almost a year after being ordained a Catholic priest, he was assigned to Nativity Parish here in Dubuque before joining the Loras College staff in 1947, and then being a part of the Loras staff for 30 years, including the last six as president.
“Msgr. Friedl was a great Loras man and priest,” current Loras College President, Jim Collins said. “He served faithfully as faculty member, academic dean, president and regent at Loras. He served so well that he was designated emeritus status for each role.”
Monsignor Friedl was the pastor of two more parishes in the area and the chaplain on four cruise ships before retiring from the priesthood in 1987.
Even in retirement, he was still very active in the Dubuque area and with the Loras community. He wrote 14 books throughout his lifetime including “The Loras College Story – 150 Years,” which was published in 1969. Many of the others have a theme of preaching, as he believed the homily was one of most important parts of the Catholic Mass experience.
“He was a prolific author, great homilist and terrific pastor,” President Collins said. “Mostly, he loved people, his Catholic faith, and Loras College.”
“I remember him well,” Fr. Gene Kutsch of the Stonehill Care Center said. “He was very well-liked and had an amazing reputation as a professor.”
Monsignor Friedl died at age 99, two months shy of his 100th birthday and was a priest for 74 years when he passed. On Monday, Sept. 25, his visitation was held at St. Columbkille Parish in Dubuque.
His funeral Mass and burial was held later that afternoon at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in his hometown of Waterloo, IA. His books are available for sale online. All memorials should be sent to the Archdiocese of Dubuque Seminarian Education Fund to help young men follow in his footsteps.