Father La Fontaine remembered as gentle, faithful priest

| December 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

Father Paul La Fontaine, remembered as a gentle, faithful priest who enjoyed music, literature and old movies, died Dec. 10 in St. Paul. He was 72.

Solemn vespers were planned for 7 p.m. Dec. 16 in St. Mary’s Chapel at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, with visitation from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Father Paul La Fontaine

Father Paul La Fontaine

A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Dec. 17 at St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony, with Archbishop Bernard Hebda presiding.

A native of Minneapolis, Father La Fontaine served five parishes in his 46 years as a priest, and he was a spiritual director at the seminary after retiring in 2014. He also was a longtime chaplain for Courage, a ministry for people with same-sex attraction.

“I think first and foremost he was a faithful priest,” said Deacon Stephen Najarian of St. Charles Borromeo, who served with Father La Fontaine for most of the late priest’s 14 years at the parish.

“He was a very kind man. He was not someone who enjoyed or looked for disputes,” though he could hold his ground when necessary, Deacon Najarian said. “In his relationships with people, he had a smile, a ready handshake and a kind word.”

He also was a strong pro-life supporter and a staunch defender of traditional marriage, Deacon Najarian said.

A member of St. Charles Borromeo, Bonnie Brever, said she and her husband, Tom, grew to know Father La Fontaine as a friend as a well as a pastor. They swapped DVDs of old movies and television series, shared dinners and conversations.

“He was a wonderful shepherd of our faith community, but also a gentle man, a gentle soul,” she said. “How do you explain gentleness? How do you explain warmth? He was just a good friend.”

Ordained in 1972, Father La Fontaine served as associate pastor of Cathedral of St. Paul from 1972 to 1979 and Sacred Heart in Robbinsdale from 1979 to 1984. He was pastor of St. John Vianney in South St. Paul from 1984 to 1992, St. Columba in St. Paul from 1992 to 2000 and St. Charles Borromeo from 2000 to 2014.

Father La Fontaine’s sister-in-law, Mary LaFontaine, a member of Annunciation in Minneapolis, said the priest enjoyed music, art, literature, old movies, and Laurel and Hardy. But his great love was for the Church, and his priesthood, which he shared with everyone.

“We will all miss Paul’s funny little quips about almost anything, his quotes of old radio and TV commercials, and his jokes,” she said. “We loved having him share our extended family gatherings and simple suppers.”

Father La Fontaine was preceded in death by his parents, Nicholas and Mary Dolores (McNeely) La Fontaine, his brother, David, and infant sister Mary Carol. In addition to his sister-in-law, survivors include nieces and nephews.

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Category: Obituaries