Date of death: 05/28/2020

Saint Meinrad Class: O 1968

By Detroit Catholic, June 8, 2020, Obituaries

Fr. John O’Keefe, 78, of White Lake, passed away May 28, 2020. Loving brother of Bill (Susan) O’Keefe, Robert (Barbara) O’Keefe, Tim (Luciana) O’Keefe, Maureen (David) Wheatley and Patricia (Bob) Tomassi. He will be missed by many cousins, nieces and nephews, and numerous other family and friends.

He was born in 1941, the first of six children of John and Patricia O’Keefe. Although he was born in Madison, Wis., he grew up in the Detroit area, not far from Westland. He attended the grade school of his parish, Our Lady of Grace, located on Joy Road near Telegraph. Wanting very much to become a missionary in some far off land, he entered St. Bernard Seminary (Mariannhill Missionary Society), located on Ann Arbor Trail.

Funeral Mass was Wednesday, June 3, 2020, at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 9086 Hutchins Road, White Lake.

In 1968 he was ordained. Soon afterwards he headed for Europe, Germany, to be precise, to continue his theological studies. It was there through his friendship with African priests that he eventually became a priest (incarnated) for the Archdiocese of Nampula, Mozambique. In 1980, his African safari began, even with difficulties. Owing to the war situation in Mozambique, he taught theology in a major seminary, St. Augustine, in Paramiho, Tanzania.

It wasn’t until 1987 that he was able to return to Mozambique and he began his first assignment as the pastor of Sao Pedro Parish, situated on the edge of Nampula, but extending in into the countryside with three out stations (communities). He served as pastor for nearly 15 years. During his tenure as pastor, the war ceased and he took on another project: help in the construction of the New Catholic University of Mozambique. That is he took on the reconstruction of church buildings that were returned to the Church after the war that ended with a peace agreement in 1992. He helped in the reconstruction of a building for the new Faculty of Education, later serving as administrator, chaplain and, at the end of his tenure, acting-director.

He might still be in his beloved Africa, if it weren’t for health reasons that made him return home at the end of 2008. His fortune was that upon his return the Archdiocese of Detroit accepted him into the diocese allowing him to continue his priestly ministry which put him at St. Theodore of Canterbury Parish in Westland from December 2010 until his new assignment at St. Sylvester and St. Edmund Parish beginning August 1, 2012.

After leaving St. Sylvester and St. Edmund Parish, he has helped out at many various parishes including St. Patrick and others all around Michigan; even all the way up in Imlay City.

Funeral Mass was Wednesday, June 3, 2020, at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 9086 Hutchins Road, White Lake. Burial was Wednesday, June 3, 2020, at 1:30 p.m. at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Southfield.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Free the Kids.

This obituary was reprinted from Dignity Memorial.