Rev. Robert Festle, 77, led St. Edmund 'resolutely' in 1980s
Rev. Robert H. Festle, pastor emeritus of St. Edmund parish in Oak Park, died of complications from pneumonia at Resurrection Hospital on Thursday, Sept. 29. He was 77. Rev. Festle had served St. Edmund as pastor during the late 1980s.
He was also the former pastor of St. Theresa Catholic Parish in Palatine, and was the past director of the archdiocesan ministry that assists the work of missionaries throughout the world.
Rev. Festle was a native of Chicago's North Side, and had attended Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, and later, Loyola Academy. He entered St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein in 1948. He was ordained a priest in 1955, and received his licentiate in sacred theology in 1955.
Kathy Halfpenny, a long-time member of St. Edmund's and the current music director, remembers him well. At the time that Rev. Festle served as pastor, Halfpenny served as director of the Saturday night folk group.
"Fr. Festle was certainly a strong leader. And he must have been a very humble man?#34;I read his obituary and had no clue he had done all those things!" In dealing with the various concerns of the Catholic Church and the needs of his parishioners, Halfpenny found him to be resolute and direct. "He confronted issues head on," said Halfpenny.
Bishop Timothy Lyne of the Chicago Catholic archdiocese worked with Rev. Festle during his service as assistant pastor to Holy Name Cathedral, and during his commission as director of the Propagation of the Faith.
In Rev. Festle's work with Propagation of the Faith, Lyne describes him as doing "a lot of great work raising money for the missions and telling the stories of the missions." In his work as assistant pastor, Rev. Festle experienced the neighborhood around Holy Name during a period when it was less developed than it is now. "When he was here, this parish was both rich and poor," said Lyne. "He was interested in both the rich and the poor."
Lyne spoke appreciatively of Rev. Festle's dedication to his work as a priest, listing his extensive and varied experiences. "He had a very full life as a priest, and he enjoyed being a priest. He was a fine man," said Lyne.
Rev. Festle first served as an assistant pastor at the former Our Lady, Help of Christians Catholic Parish in Chicago (1955-58), and for then nearly five years at Holy Name Cathedral (1958-63). He then served as a chaplain to the U.S. Air Force Illinois National Guard (1963-65) at O'Hare Field.
In 1969, Rev. Festle was named the full-time director of both the Propagation of the Faith and of the Holy Childhood Association, and served with these offices until 1982. During these years, he resided at and served as assistant pastor at Holy Name Cathedral. From 1981-1987, Fr. Festle served as pastor of St. Theresa Catholic Parish in Palatine. He then was named pastor of St. Edmund in 1987. He retired from active ministry in 1992.
At the time of his death, Rev. Festle was a resident of St. Benedict home in Niles. In keeping with his wishes, his body will be donated to medical science.
Rev. Festle is survived by a sister-in-law, a niece, and a nephew. A memorial mass was celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Lyne at Holy Name Cathedral on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2005. Burial will take place at a later date.