The funeral Mass for Msgr. Richard J. Lubeley will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 9, at Mary Queen of Peace Church in Webster Groves, where he spent 20 years in ministry — his longest tenure at one place as a priest.
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson will be the main celebrant at the Mass, with Father Gerry Meier as homilist. A wake will be held Tuesday, May 10, 4-8 p.m. at Mary Queen of Peace. Burial will be in Resurrection Cemetery.
Msgr. Lubeley died May 2 at Regina Cleri residence for retired priests in Shrewsbury. He was 97 and had been a priest for 69 years, serving in education and parish ministry. He had been the oldest and the longest-serving archdiocesan priest at the time of his death.
Born on Feb. 8, 1921, the fourth of Cecilia and George Lubeley’s five children, Msgr. Lubeley said his call to the priesthood “started from a young age. I guess it was always in my mind, back to my grade school days.”
An uncle and a cousin were priests and his brother was a seminarian. He might have gone directly into the seminary, but tuition was more than twice Southside Catholic High School’s — $50 vs. $20 — so he went there instead. He worked at an accounting firm out of high school and held down two jobs to earn enough money to enter the seminary. Msgr. Lubeley was ordained by then-Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter on June 7, 1949.
After ordination, Msgr. Lubeley had a brief stint in the Catholic Motor Mission in southeast Missouri. He and a partner went to small southern Missouri towns, where “they didn’t have a priest or had never seen one,” he said last year. “The pulpit was the front bumper of the car.”
In 1949, he started a tenure of nearly two decades in education. He taught at his alma mater, formerly Southside but then renamed St. Mary’s High School (1949-52), DeAndreis High School (1952-53) and Laboure High School (1953-55). He then spent 10 years (1957-67) as an administrator at Bishop DuBourg High School. He earned a master’s in education with a minor in mathematics from St. Louis University in 1956.
Simultaneous to his ministry in education, he served as assistant pastor at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish (1949-50), part-time assistant pastor at St. Mark the Evangelist Parish (1955) and assistant pastor at Resurrection (1955-56). He also was resident chaplain at Mt. Providence Boarding School for Boys (Normandy) 1956-57 and resided at Cardinal Glennon Hospital (1957-61) and Nazareth Convent (1961-67), where he was chaplain.
Msgr. Lubeley shifted to parish ministry in 1967 as pastor at Assumption in O’Fallon, where he remained for 12 years. He was named a Prelate of Honor in February 1971. He served as pastor of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in St. Louis 1979-91. At St. Gabriel, he was an early adopter of personal computing, teaching himself BASIC programming and developing a program to track households and giving. “My first computer had eight megabytes; not gigabytes, megabytes,” he recalled last year.
In 1991, Msgr. Lubeley started a two-decade ministry at Mary Queen of Peace Parish in Webster Groves. He was senior priest in service 1991-96, then retired priest in residence from 1996 until 2011, when he moved into Regina Cleri. In July 2008, he was named Protonotary Apostolic Supernumerary, the highest honor for a monsignor outside of Rome.
In the Jubilarian profile of 2014, Msgr. Lubeley described his priesthood as “enjoyable and rewarding,” adding “it has … been a joy to be of help to the people who have been a part of my life. I am thankful to God for the years He has given me in the priesthood.”