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In Memoriam ~ Fr. Raymond Monsour ’55

Fr. Raymond Monsour ’55  
Ordained February 2, 1963
Age 85, died October 4, 2022

Fr. Raymond George Monsour died on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.   Preceded in death by parents, Joseph & Sadie; and siblings, Tony, infant brother, Joe (Margo) and John (Shirley).  

Survived by loving sisters, Mary Ann (Darrel) Raines and Margaret (Michael) Maloney; nieces and nephews, Barb (Gary) Schwery, Patti Dillon, Kristen Maloney, Sean (Katie) Maloney, Joseph “JT” (Jenny) Monsour, Dave (Cheryl) Monsour, Lisa (Rod) Ramsey, Deb (Ed) Sandvig, Anna (Tom) Bader and John (Amy) Monsour; great nieces & nephews, Michael Schwery, Annemarie Schwery, Dan “DJ” Dillon, Dana Dillon, Joey Monsour, Emily Monsour, Brittanie Maloney, Nathaniel Hanson, Alex Maloney, Abby Maloney, Amber (Dan) Stouvenel, Marissa Monsour, Madeline Ramsey, Jake (Sam) Sandvig, Dan Sandvig, Marty Sandvig, Paul (Val) Domeier, Mary (Dylan) DePestel, Amanda Domeier, Owen Monsour and Evelyn Monsour; great-great nieces & nephews, Elliana Maloney-Stone, Midge Domeier, Leaella DePestel, Lucas Stouvenel and McKenna Stouvenel; many dear friends; and a host of parishioners he shepherded over his 59 years of priesthood.  
In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to Holy Family Church.  

This is an additional article regarding Fr. Monsour:
Obituary: Father Ray Monsour ‘lived his faith, challenged others to live their faith’
The comforts of suburban life never appealed to Father Raymond Monsour. After his ordination in 1963, Monsour, who grew up on St. Paul’s West Side, went to work at Catholic Youth Center in downtown St. Paul. Stints at St. James, St. Luke’s, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Ascension followed. He spent five years as the pastor of a mission in Venezuela.

“I spent two weekends in the suburbs after coming back from Latin America,” Monsour told the Pioneer Press in 1988. “It was a nice parish. They had no problems financially and they had everything they wanted. But it was too white for me. Maybe I feel threatened in the suburbs. I don’t know if I can explain myself very well to someone over there.” Monsour, 85, died Tuesday of multiple myeloma at Walker Methodist at Westwood Ridge in West St. Paul. ‘IT SOUNDED FABULOUS’

Monsour grew up in an Arabic-speaking home, the fourth of six children born to Joseph and Sadie Monsour, who came from Lebanon in 1927. His family attended Holy Family, the Maronite Catholic Church on the West Side. The church moved from Robie Street to its current location in Mendota Heights in 2009.

Monsour decided when he was 12 that he wanted to become a priest to spread the word of God to missions in Africa. “It sounded fabulous, going to Africa,” Monsour said in 1988. When Monsour told his parents of his career plans, they told him to switch to the Roman Catholic Church because the only Maronite seminary at that time was in Lebanon, and they were afraid that if he left the United States, they’d never see him again.

Monsour attended high school at St. John’s Preparatory School in Collegeville, MN, and then stayed on at St. John’s University for his first two years of college. He worked his way through college by sweeping dorm floors and waiting tables. His mother, Sadie, also offered financial support by baking Lebanese flatbread to sell to the community, according to a biography of Monsour written five years ago by longtime friend Father John Forliti.

During his second year of college, Bishop Gerald O’Keefe, then-auxiliary bishop of St. Paul, arranged for Monsour to become bi-ritual — a member of both the Maronite Rite and the Latin Rite, opening the way for him to be accepted at the St. Paul Seminary to study for diocesan priesthood, according to the biography. Monsour “was totally dedicated to the priesthood and serving people,” said Forliti, who lives in St. Paul. “He was just a solid, solid human being. You could depend on him. He was very faithful and trusting and honest. He went where he was sent, and he would just dive into whatever calling he was called to serve.”

In 1969, Monsour was assigned to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the predominantly Mexican-American parish on St. Paul’s West Side, back in his old neighborhood. In an interview with Pioneer Press columnist Nick Coleman in 2003, Monsour said he protested when he got the news. “But I don’t speak Spanish,” he said. “You don’t need to,” he was told. “No, I need to know Spanish,” he repeated. “Nope,” they said. Monsour went to Guadalupe and got a nun to teach him Spanish, Coleman wrote. After a year, Monsour went to Venezuela, beginning a ministry of Minnesota priests who preach the good news to impoverished ironworkers. When he came back, five years later, he not only spoke fluent Spanish, he also was prepared to work among the poor of the Twin Cities, Coleman wrote. Monsour was sent back to Our Lady of Guadalupe, where he served for another seven years.

Monsour had a “heart for social justice” and could easily interact with people of different cultures and racial backgrounds, said Barb Schwery, his niece. “He was always one to be mindful of the marginalized,” Schwery said. “How do we be non-judgmental with those that we encounter in our lives? He lived his faith, and he challenged others to live their faith.” After leaving Our Lady of Guadalupe, Monsour worked at Church of the Ascension in Minneapolis from 1985 to 1997 and later at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Le Center, MN. He retired in 2005.

Monsour believed in spreading the Gospel message of peace, justice and love, he told the Pioneer Press in 1988. “You don’t look at people because of color or money, you look at them as individuals,” he said. “Can you work with them and celebrate with them? Can you go to them honestly, sit down with them at times of joy and sorrow, and support them when they really need it?”

Longtime family friend John Corey said Monsour had a “heart for people. He was a strong example of living the Catholic faith in everything that he did.”

Monsour was an excellent homilist who “spoke from the heart,” Corey said. “His homilies always related to life, always related to the Christian struggle. What endeared him to people was that he was so genuine, and he was so humble.” Monsour never forgot his West Side roots, said Joe Nasseff, his cousin. “There are priests who are followers, there are priests who are leaders, and there are those who walk alongside,” Nasseff said. “He was one who walked alongside. He never forgot where he came from. He was always part of the community.”

Monsour is survived by two sisters, Mary Ann Raines and Margaret Maloney. Services are pending. 
Klecatsky & Sons Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.