Date of death: 1/26/2021
Saint Meinrad Class: O 1959
Father Joseph Lawrence Trapp, 87, of Benton, Illinois, born August 13, 1933, in Mount Carmel, Illinois, to Sylvester S. and Marie Pfiester Trapp, passed away at 5:00 p.m., on Tuesday, January 26, 2021, in Benton, Illinois at Stonebridge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
Joseph Trapp, a devout, dedicated and caring priest, graduated from St. Mary Elementary School in Mt. Carmel, before enrolling at St. Henry Seminary in Belleville, Illinois to begin his studies for the Catholic priesthood, which were completed at St. Meinrad Philosophy and Theology Seminary in St. Meinrad, Indiana. He was ordained a Catholic priest for the Belleville diocese May 23, 1959 by Bishop Albert R. Zuroweste.
Father Trapp began his 61 years of priestly ministry in southern Illinois in a temporary summer assignment at St. Joseph Parish in Olney and then as an associate at Sacred Heart Parish in Du Quoin (1959-1962) and St. Peter Cathedral Parish in Belleville (1962-1967). In 1967 he was assigned to his first pastorate at St. Patrick Parish in Enfield. Two years later he was named the pastor of St. John Nepomucene Parish in Dahlgren with St. Clement Parish in McLeansboro as a mission. During that time, he was also appointed administrator of St. Patrick Parish in Enfield. In 1975 he became the first resident pastor as St. Clement Parish in McLeansboro. In 1979 he was also appointed administrator of St Patrick Parish in Enfield. Beginning in 1982 he was named the pastor of St. Mary Parish in Shawneetown and St. Patrick Parish in Pond Settlement.
Five years later Father Trapp began a 13-year pastorate at St. Rose Parish in Metropolis, and later also the administrator of St. Joseph Parish in Elizabethtown.
His final parish assignment as pastor was at St. Joseph Parish in Benton in 2000, where he served until his retirement from active ministry in 2015. Until recently he continued to volunteer at weekend liturgies at a number of southern Illinois parishes.
Preceding him in death were his parents; brother, Thomas and sister-in-law Brenda Trapp; sister, Joanne Coffey, and brother-in-law Robert Bice.
He is survived by his brother, Eugene and sister-in-law Catherine Trapp of Danville, Indiana; and sister Margaret Bice of Owensboro, Kentucky; nieces, nephews and extended family. He will be gratefully remembered by the thousands of parishioners in the 11 parishes where he exercised his priestly ministry.
When asked about his ministry as a priest, parishioners said: He was always pastoral – focusing on the needs and concerns of others as individuals and as a community, not on himself. He has been described as humble, non-judgmental, hospitable, supportive. He was a listener. His homilies are remembered for supporting faith as an effort to grow in a way of life encouraged by Jesus’ words in the Gospels. He was always on a journey of faith with his parishioners, who respected his presence on that journey as an equal.
He could also be critical of the adequacy of his ministry and leadership – with a tendency toward self- criticism. At the same time, he could be incisive and willing to speak out or write a critical letter when he judged the actions were contrary to the priority of pastoral ministry. As a man and a priest, he was a person of consistent principles.
It should be noted that he was a gardener and a lover of nature.