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Obituary for Fr. Cormac Antram, OFM

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A quiet man with a voice that resounded throughout the entire Navajo Nation Father Cormac Antram, O.F.M., will be remembered by many. Father Cormac died at St. John Care Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Tuesday, October 1, 2013; he was 87 years old. A New Mexico native, Fr. Cormac was born James Antram on May 18, 1926. He is one of eight children of James and Goldie (Day) Antram of Roswell. He is survived by his brother, Richard and many nieces and nephews.

He attended St. Peter Grade School in Roswell from 1932 to 1940, after which he attended Roswell Junior High School and Roswell High School from 1940 to 1943. He entered St. Francis High School Seminary in Mount Healthy, Ohio, in 1943 and graduated from there in 1945. He became a Franciscan on August 15, 1945 at St. Anthony Shrine in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a year later professed first vows in the Franciscan Order. He attended Duns Scotus College in Southfield, Michigan from 1946 to 1950. In 1949, he professed solemn vows in the Franciscan Order.

Fr. Cormac began theological studies at Holy Family Friary in 1950 and completed them in 1954 when he was ordained a priest by Archbishop Shulte of Indianapolis on June 8 of that year. His first assignment was to St. Michaels Mision in 1954, and he spent the th rest of his life in ministry to the Diné in Chinle, Houck, Kayenta, and Saint Michaels in Arizona and at the Catholic Indian Center in Gallup and St. Mary Mission in Tohatchi in New Mexico.

Fr. Cormac is best known as the voice of the Padre’s Hour, a weekly radio program which debuted on May 8, 1958. It became a regular broadcast on many radio stations in the area, and is now still heard on KTNN radio, Window Rock, at 7:00 o’clock on Sunday mornings. Fr. Cormac believed in the importance of getting the Word out in as many ways as possible. Fluent in Navajo, he produced a compact disk entitled Songs and Prayers in Navajo which is still available. In addition, he wrote three books: Laborers of the Harvest (1998), Halos and Heroes (2002), and Houck Mission Celebrates (2002).

His fame captured the interest of the Los Angeles Times who published an article about him entitled “The Holy Wind Talker”, written by Leo W. Banks, on March 23, 2003. Fr. Cormac was part of the team of Franciscan Friars who translated the Holy Mass into Navajo, which received Ecclesiastical approval from His Holiness John Paul II, as the only translation of the Holy Mass exclusively for use in the United States of America.

Most recently he lived at Villa Guadalupe administered by the Little Sisters of the Poor. While there, he produced a recording of the Holy Mass entirely in Navajo for the Diocese of Gallup. Sadly, Fr. Cormac was the last of the Franciscan missionaries who could speak Navajo fluently.

The Franciscans will receive the body of Fr. Cormac at St. Michaels Mission on Sunday, October 6, beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the parish Church in a special ceremony. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Fr. Ronald Walters, O.F.M., Provincial Vicar of the Franciscans and Guardian of St. Michaels Mission on Monday, October 7, beginning at 10 :00 a.m. Internment will take place at the friary cemetery followed by a reception in the St. Michaels Mission Parish Hall. Please make donations to Padre’s Hour, St. Michaels Mission, PO Box 680, Saint Michaels, AZ 86511-0680. +


  1. Good morning,
    Sorry! to hear about Fr. Cormac Antram’s passing. I tuned into The Padres Hour this morning when I heard. I would like to send condolences to all who knew him. I enjoyed and was blessed to hear his sermons and I will miss hearing his voice.
    If there are any recordings, books or audio sermons available I would like to purchase whatever you have available.
    I am originally from Mexican Springs, N.M. and met Fr. Cormac when he was at Tohatchi, N.M. yrs ago. I moved to MI in 1989. I just found out recently that I could listen to KTNN online. When I started listening on sunday is when I would tune into Fr. Cormac’s program. He will be missed.


    Wilma J. Begay

  2. Thank you for printing the obituary of my brother, Fr. Cormac. Besides his brother Richard he is also survived by
    four sisters–Mary Virginia Ferns of Roswell; Ruth Privratsky of Niles, Ill., Joanne Gasiel of Payson, AZ and Bernice
    Froeschle of Colorado Springs, CO.

  3. I am Father Cormac’s younger brother. I was overwhelmed at the turnout of his funeral. I can tell you…he was
    totally dedicated to the welfare of the Navajo people. He truly loved these people. I am proud to be his brother.
    He forfeited his vacation almost every year just to be with “his” people. A true “Franciscan”! May he rest in peace!


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