Topekans Mourn Father John Rossiter

TOPEKA -- Father John Francis Rossiter, who graduated from Holy Name and Hayden and spent his life leading at least a half-dozen Northeast Kansas parishes, passed away Sunday at Topeka's Midland Hospice House. Father Rossiter served for 20 years in Assumption Parish, and had retired to Assumption Rectory four years ago.

Father Rossiter had just marked his 77th birthday last Saturday. He was born in Topeka on June 26, 1933. Attending Holy Name Grade School, he graduated from Hayden High in 1951, and took pride in earning his Eagle Scout honors here. He attended Marquette University the following year, and entered St. Thomas Seminary in Denver as well. By 1955, he moved to Rome to study at North American College/ Gregorian University, where he was ordained over the Christmas holiday in 1958.

Earning graduate degrees in Washington, DC and St. Louis, Father Rossiter was assigned to Blessed Sacrament Parish in Kansas City, Kansas; The Old Cathedral, where he taught at Immaculata High in Leavenworth; St. John the Evangelist Parish of Kansas City, Kansas, teaching at Connelly College, and St. Joseph High School. He was St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at KU in the mid-70s, and at St. Pius X Parish of Mission, Kansas for nearly ten years after that. He's known to Topekans as the parish priest of Assumption Parish, until his retirement in July 2006.

Father Rossiter was well known to all Topekans as the celebrant of the Mass at Assumption Catholic Church, which opened the city's St. Patrick's Day Celebrations. He was the St. Pat's Parade Grand Marshal for his final year in 2006. His bulletins, stories and homilies were knwon for their wit and their substance. He was a man who interests were varied and passionate, including traveling, attending musical theatre productions, reading (especially mystery novels), eating and telling jokes.

Kevin Brennan Funeral Home reports Father Rossiter will lie in state Wednesday from 10:00 until 7:00pm, followed by a Prayer Service at Mater Dei Assumption Church. The family will greet their friends from 4:00 until 7:00 that day. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated this Thursday, July 1st, at 11:00am at the church. Burial will follow in Mt. Calvary Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Mater Dei Parish for the purpose of the Sandwich Ministry and Midland Hospice. Online condolences may be sent to

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