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Xavier Magazine | June 22, 2017

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Profile: Rev. Joseph V. Urbain

By France Griggs Sloat

Rev. Joseph V. Urbain Bachelor of Arts in philosophy, 1928 | Retired priest Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Clearwater, Fla.

Living Legacy | Rev. Urbain is believed to be the University’s oldest living graduate. He is also the oldest living priest from the Cincinnati Archdiocese. He retired to Florida in the early 1970s after a lifetime of teaching and ministry but continued to be active with parishes in the Clearwater and St. Petersburg areas through the 1980s. He remained independent until he moved into a nursing home in 2002. He turns 99 in February.

Awakenings | Urbain’s Catholic education led to an early desire to help others. As a sophomore at Xavier in 1926, Urbain was the corresponding secretary of the Catholic Students’ Mission Crusade which raised money through raffles and “self-denial funds” for missionaries.

Seminarian | Urbain completed his first two years at Xavier and his final two years at Saint Gregory Seminary. He returned to Xavier in the summer of 1928 to finish his bachelor’s degree.

Continuing Education | He completed seminary training at Saint Gregory’s and Mount Saint Mary’s and was the organist at both, and he earned a master’s in French from McGill University in Montreal. He also studied at the University of Poitier, the Sorbonne and the University of Paris.

Ordination | In May 1932, Urbain was ordained by Archbishop J.T. McNicholas. He celebrated his first Mass the next day at his boyhood church, Saint Peter in Chains in Hamilton, Ohio. He returned to Saint Gregory’s to teach French and liturgy, and he also taught French at Edgecliff College.

Prince of Peace | He was assigned to Saint Lawrence parish in New Miami, Ohio, as the administrator before establishing the Queen of Peace parish and school outside Hamilton in 1942. He became pastor in 1950. His portrait still hangs there, and Church members today hold meetings in Urbain Hall, named in his honor.

Land Master | He convinced the Archdiocese to acquire land nearby, which was later sold in sections whenever the church needed money. The subdivision around the church is named Queen Acres and its streets bear religious names he chose such as Fatima, Queen Mary Lane and Rosary Circle.

Farmer’s Friend | Urbain developed the parish to serve the 30 or so farming families near Hamilton, recalls longtime Queen of Peace parishioner Mary Conlin. He was vibrant and because of his efforts, the church became the focal point of their community. “He always had some kind of social time like a Halloween party. He was very, very much loved by the parishioners. He was just an outgoing person you loved to be around.”

Globetrotter | One of his passions is traveling, and he was one of the first priests to travel on a cruise ship offering Mass to passengers.

Kudos | In 2003, Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk honored Urbain with a certificate and a personal letter commemorating his 71 years in the priesthood. “Your priestly life has been a source of encouragement to others and your ministry has always been a blessing,” he wrote.

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