Father Louis J. Franz, CM, who spent years advocating for inmates, died July 11 in Perryville, Mo. He was 86.
Father Franz was born July 27, 1931, in New Orleans to Valentine Joseph and Hilda Marie Trege Franz Jr. He followed a call to religious life, entering the novitiate at St. Mary of the Barrens in Perryville, which was established in 1818 by the Vincentians as a house of formation, community residence and educational institution.
On May 23, 1950, he professed vows with the order. He was ordained a priest on June 2, 1957. He was elected and served nine years as provincial of the Southern Province.
Father Franz served in Arkansas from 1985 to 1993 in Lincoln and Cleveland counties, most notably as pastor of St. Justin Church in Star City. He was co-director of the diocesan prison ministry and a founding member of Arkansas Churches for Life in 1987. The nonprofit, funded by the religious order, was originally focused on helping the poor, mentally ill and minorities afford proper representation in court.
In 2017, the nonprofit provided a grant to Faith Voices for work to abolish the death penalty and life without parole, while also advocating for prison and sentencing reform.
Retired in New Orleans at the time, Father Franz told Arkansas Catholic, “People don’t know much about the prison system and sentencing system … it’s in-prison execution; that’s what life without parole is.”
Father Franz has no immediate survivors.
A visitation was held July 15. A Mass of Christian Burial was July 16 at Mary Mother of God Chapel at St. Mary of the Barrens.
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