Rev. Donald J. Headley, pastor emeritus of Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Chicago and former associate pastor at Mater Christi Church in North Riverside, died July 16, 2021. He served as a priest for the archdiocese for 63 years and was 89 years old.
Father Headley was born on July 11, 1932, in Chicago. He attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago and the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein.
He was ordained to the priesthood on April 13, 1958 by Cardinal Samuel Stritch and celebrated his first solemn Mass on the day of his ordination at St. Basil Parish in Chicago.
After ordination, Father Headley served as assistant pastor at Old St. Patrick Parish on Adams Street in Chicago and St. Theresa Parish in Palatine. He served as faculty member at Quigley Preparatory Seminary and director of the Cardinal’s Committee for the Spanish Speaking; he was chaplain at the St. Joseph Carondelet Child Center, and was part of the San Miguelito Panama Mission from 1968 through 1980.
Father Headley served also as associate pastor at Mater Christi Parish in North Riverside and St. Paul Parish on 22nd Place in Chicago. He served as pastor at Our Lady of Mercy Parish on Troy Street from 1982 through 1997. The title of pastor emeritus of Our Lady of Mercy was bestowed on him in 2002.
Rev. Donald Nevins, pastor at St. Agnes of Bohemia Parish, said Father Headley’s passion was to teach lay people, especially after the Second Vatican Council: He truly believed in the focus of Vatican II and did what he could in the archdiocese and other places to raise up the expectations of lay people in the Church to fulfill their call to leadership.
Bishop John Manz added that Headley learned to converse flawlessly in Spanish and was a very passionate preacher.
Services have been held.