Rev. Joseph F. O’Donnell Jr., C.S.C.

Rev. Joseph F. O’Donnell, C.S.C.

October 13, 1933 – November 23, 2021

PHOENIX, ARIZ. – Rev. Joseph F. O’Donnell Jr., C.S.C., 88, died in Phoenix, Ariz. on November 23, 2021 of natural causes.

He was born on October 13, 1933 in Chicago, IL to Joseph F. and Ruth (Hoffmann) O’Donnell, who preceded him in death.

Fr. Joe was raised on the far north side of Chicago, Ill., where he was one of four children. He attended grade school at the Hardey Preparatory School for Boys and graduated from high school at the Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Ill. After his high school graduation in 1951, Fr. Joe served as a midshipman in the University of Notre Dame Naval ROTC program. It was during this time, that he heard the calling from God to become a Holy Cross priest and to serve his country.

After entering the seminary, Fr. Joe studied philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, graduating in 1956. He then went on to study theology at Holy Cross College in Washington, D.C., earning a master’s degree in sacred theology in 1960. He earned a second master’s degree in pastoral psychology from the University of Notre Dame in 1961. Fr. Joe entered the Holy Cross Novitiate on August 15, 1953 at Notre Dame, professed final vows on August 16, 1957 and was ordained a Holy Cross priest on June 8, 1960 at Sacred Heart Church, Notre Dame, Ind. Fr. Joe served on the staff of Stanford Hall at the University of Notre Dame for a year before joining the Holy Cross Mission Band, traveling with fellow priests and brothers to give parish missions, high school and college retreats, days of recollection and devotions. In 1965, Fr. Joe joined the Navy as a Chaplain, serving over twenty-seven years of active duty, including an eighteen month tour in the Vietnam War. Fr. Joe’s numerous military decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, the National Defense Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, a Navy Unit Commendation, and various awards and ribbons from the former Republic of Vietnam. After retiring from active duty in 1994, Fr. Joe became Superior at Holy Cross House in Notre Dame, Ind. In 1997, he was reassigned to Casa Santa Cruz in Phoenix, Ariz. After serving a year as Superior there, Fr. Joe spent his time assisting with diocesan weekend parish work, at Veterans’ Administration Medical Center, at St. Joseph’s Medical Center, at Beatitudes Campus Retirement Residences and as supervisory Chaplain for the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Preceding him in death are Fr. Joe’s parents, his brothers Charles C. O’Donnell, and Michael J. O’Donnell. He is survived by his younger sister Mary Ruth Kusswurm of Wheeling, Ill, many nieces and nephews, and grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

The Funeral Mass will be at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame, Ind. You may also join us via livestream at

Burial with military honors will be in the community cemetery at Notre Dame. Kaniewski Funeral Home, South Bend, is in charge of the arrangements.

Memorial contributions in support of the mission and ministries of the Congregation of Holy Cross can be made to: United States Province of Priests and Brothers, Office of Mission Advancement, P.O. Box 765, Notre Dame, IN 46556-0765 or online at

More Related Articles

Join a Brotherhood of Men with Hope to Bring

Discern your vocation and discover the life God is calling you to live.

Contact Us