Father Richard C. Creason, a longtime pastor of urban parishes, supporter of the labor movement and champion of social justice issues, died March 31. He was 79 years old.
Funeral arrangements were pending. A celebration of his life is being planned for a later date.
Born in St. Louis on Jan. 26, 1941, to Hubert and Mildred Creason, he was baptized at Nativity of Our Lord Church. He attended St. Louis Preparatory Seminary High School, Cardinal Glennon College and Kenrick Seminary. He was ordained by Cardinal Joseph E. Ritter on March 11, 1967, at the St. Louis Cathedral.
His first assignment as a priest was associate pastor of St. Matthias Parish in Lemay, where he served until 1970. He also was associate pastor at Most Holy Rosary in St. Louis (1970-75), Sts. John and James in Ferguson (1975-77), and St. Mark in St. Louis (1977-81).
In 1981, he was appointed to serve the archdiocesan Human Rights Office, serving under the late Msgr. John Shocklee. In that role, Father Creason worked on numerous issues, including housing and labor, and became involved in work with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. He earned a master’s degree in urban studies from Washington University in St. Louis.
Father Creason “was a guy who was in tune with the social dimensions of the Christian Gospel,” said Tom Nolan, former director of the archdiocesan Human Rights Office. “He did it with good intelligence and consistent passion. He certainly talked the talk. His personal life was a great example of how to be a good faithful Christian and live out our commitment to one another.”
Father Creason was named pastor of St. Barbara Parish in St. Louis in 1982, where he served until 1990. He also was pastor at St. Pius V in St. Louis (1990-93) and St. Paul the Apostle in Pine Lawn (1993-95). In 1995, he was assigned to Most Holy Trinity Parish in St. Louis, where he served until his retirement to St. Agnes Home in 2016.
By the 1990s, Father Creason became one of the founding fathers of what would become Metropolitan Congregations United, a local organization of faith-based communities working on issues in need of a transformative social justice response. MCU has worked on many social justice issues.
Father Creason was recognized as a labor and community advocate, and received numerous awards for his work. He often spoke about the importance of faith-based organizing, noting that it builds relationships and works on underlying systemic issues. He promoted efforts to bring corporations, labor unions and community groups together and for labor unions to bring skilled jobs with solid employment to urban areas.
Organizing faith groups brings people together to work on common projects, share a common vision and address the common good, Father Creason once said, adding that parish social ministry groups also are important.
In a 2014 story about a bike giveaway at Most Holy Trinity Parish, Father Creason described Hyde Park as a middle- to low-income neighborhood, “filled with hard-working people, a lot of people who work part-time jobs, who work two jobs, who have no health insurance, who have no retirement, and so that’s life for them. Life for us as a parish is how we connect with these folks.”