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Msgr. John J. Prendergast

Rev. Monsignor John J. Prendergast, 74 of Peoria passed away Wednesday (March 18, 2020) at Christian Buehler Home in Peoria. Graveside services will be held at the St. Mary’s Cemetery, Streator. The Winterrowd Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. A memorial Mass will take place at a later date. More information about the memorial Mass will be forthcoming once the suspension of public worship has been lifted. Born October 31, 1945, in Streator, Msgr. Prendergast was the son of Dillon E. Prendergast Sr. and Audrey F. (McClary) Prendergast, both deceased. He was the youngest of their five children having a sister, the late Audrey Glowicki and brothers Dillon (Connie) Prendergast of Corinth, Texas, Patrick (Beryl) Prendergast of Hampton, Virginia, and James (Barbara) Prendergast of Ottawa. He attended St. Anthony Catholic School, Streator and was a 1963 graduate of Streator High School. Following graduation he served as a Chaplain Assistant on active duty in the U.S. Air Force. He separated from military active duty in 1968 in order to enter the seminary and attended St. Ambrose College, Davenport, Iowa the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy, and the Pontifical Institute of St. Alphonsus, Rome, Italy. Bishop O’Rourke ordained Father Prendergast a priest at Immaculate Conception Parish Church, Streator, Illinois, on July 4, 1976. Msgr. John J. Prendergast most recently served the Catholic Diocese of Peoria as Episcopal Vicar for Religious, Episcopal Vicar for Senior Priests, Special Assistant to the Bishop and Vice Chancellor. Other diocesan assignments have included pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Washington; Founding Pastor of the St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Streator; Pastor of Immaculate Conception, St. Stephen, St. Anthony and St. Casmir Catholic Churches all of Streator; Assistant Chaplin St. John Catholic Chapel Newman Center and Assistant Pastor of St. Matthew Parish, both of Champaign. Bishop O’Rourke appointed then Father Prendergast to serve as an U.S. Army Chaplain in 1980 where he remained until his military retirement in 2002. During his 28 years in military uniform, Msgr. Prendergast served both church and country first as a Catholic Chaplain Assistant in the U.S. Air Force active and reserve components from 1964 to 1970 followed by 22 years as an active chaplain to the Infantry (Berlin Brigade Chaplain), Airborne Infantry (Battalion, Brigade, and Assistant Division Chaplain of the 82nd Airborne Division), Mechanized Infantry (4/8th Infantry Battalion Chaplain) and Field Artillery units (VII Corps Artillery Chaplain). During this time he ministered in hazardous duty and combat operations during Operation Just Cause (Panama), Operation Desert Shield (Saudi Arabia), Operation Desert Storm (Kuwait, Iraq) and the Kosovo War (Macedonia/Kosovo). He was selected to attend both the Army Command and General Staff College and Army War College. As part of the diocesan celebrations of the Millennial Year of 2000, Bishop John Myers recommended that Pope John Paul II appoint Father Prendergast as a Prelate of Honor (Monsignor) in recognition of his service to the Church as an Army Chaplain. In the same year the President of the United States recognized his service by promoting Msgr. Prendergast to the rank of Colonel, U.S. Army. While serving as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, he earned the Master Parachutist Badge with one Combat Star (Operation Just Cause, Panama). Msgr. Prendergast received many military awards to include the Legion of Merit.

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Father Jack as we knew him brought $50 to my family for Christmas while we both served in the 82d Airborne Division. I was a Chaplain Assistant at the time. He will always be highly loved and respected by the McKenzie family.

Ricky McKenzie Jun 14 2021 12:00 AM

This is a tremendous loss for the Church, the community, and for anyone who knew this dedicated religious leader. I was honored to have Msgr. Prendergast, a.k.a. Father Jack, conduct my wedding ceremony in 1987. More importantly, his weekly sermons had a significant impact on my formative years as a teenage and young adult. He never passed up the opportunity to support the Soldiers he served with and suffered with. His practical wisdom and caring guidance will be missed in this world, and I am certain he is being rewarded in the next.

Jim Johnson Mar 24 2020 12:00 AM