Catholic Diocese of Cleveland

1404 East 9th Street | Cleveland, Ohio 44114

In Remembrance – Reverend John R. Rathfon

Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Roger Gries celebrated the funeral Mass on July 23 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Cuyahoga Falls, for Father John R. Rathfon. Father Michael B. Smith was the homilist.

Father Rathfon, 89, died on July 19.

He was born on Oct. 18, 1928 to the late John Roy and Cleora F. (Roth) Rathfon. Father Rathfon was educated at St. Clement School, Lakewood; St. Stephen School, Cleveland; St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland; St. Gregory Seminary, Cincinnati; and Saint Mary Seminary, Cleveland.

He was ordained to the priesthood for service to the Diocese of Cleveland by Archbishop Edward F. Hoban on Dec, 18, 1954 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

Father Rathfon’s first assignment was as parochial vicar at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Cleveland. He was transferred on June 8, 1961 to serve as parochial vicar at Epiphany Parish in Cleveland, and then on Sept. 14, 1961 he was assigned as parochial vicar of St. Wenceslas Parish in Maple Heights. During this assignment, he also served as director of CYO Cuyahoga Southeast Deanery (1961) and as a member of the Diocesan Music Commission (1964).

On June 10, 1965 Father Rathfon took up residency at Borromeo Seminary College to study music. In the fall of 1965 he attended Church Music Studies in Rome.

Father Rathfon was assigned as parochial vicar of Immaculate Conception Parish in Cleveland on June 9, 1966. He also was assigned director of music and music education at Borromeo Seminary College on Aug 16, 1968.

On July 7, 1974 Father Rathfon was granted a leave of absence from active priestly ministry to serve the Archdiocese of Miami, Florida.

He returned to Borromeo on May 28, 1976 as a faculty member. In addition to this assignment, he served as member of the Diocesan Commission on Sacred Music.

Father Rathfon was named pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Cuyahoga Falls on Sept. 20, 1978. He also served on the Bishop’s Health Committee on Alcoholism as a member (1990-1993).

On Dec. 19, 1994, Father Rathfon retired and was named pastor emeritus of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Cuyahoga Falls.

At his request, there was no vespers service. Visitation took place at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church prior to the funeral Mass.

Interment was at All Saints Cemetery, Northfield.

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