The Northern Westchester Examiner

Beloved Peekskill Priest Remembered as ‘Gentle Soul’ at Mass

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‘There was something about the way he loved that stood out, and people gravitated to that.’—Rev. Michael Morrow

Reverend Monsignor Francis J. Ansbro was given a heartfelt sendoff Friday morning at Church of the Assumption in Peekskill fitting for someone who dedicated 47 years to a parish and community that was more than appreciative.

Church leaders from throughout the Archdiocese of New York joined His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan and a throng of parishioners and friends at a Mass of Christian Burial for Ansbro, who died November 6 at the age of 87.

Ansbro was ordained a priest on May 19, 1951 and served the bulk of his 62 years at Assumption. He was pastor from 1986 until his retirement in 2007.

“The heart of Christ was the center of his priesthood,” Rev. Michael Morrow said during his eloquent homily that moved many onlookers to tears. “Frank Ansbro loved his people. There’s no doubt about that. There was something about the way he loved that stood out, and people gravitated to that. He was beloved because he loved.”

Morrow said Ansbro was an “inspiration” to him during the six years they served together at Assumption almost two decades ago.

“Peekskill was his home, like no other assignment was. The heart is the symbol of love. Father Ansbro had many admirable qualities. It’s the one that stands out most of all,” Morrow said. “He had a gift in particular for the elderly and the sick. It was a joy to see him in the schoolyard surrounded by children. He was a gentle soul who was enormously generous financially and in other ways that people didn’t know.”

During his many years at Assumption, Ansbro actively promoted the now closed Assumption School and oversaw the expansion of Assumption Cemetery. He served as chaplain for the Catholic Daughters, the Knights of Columbus and Columbiettes, the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Peekskill Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

Before being assigned to Assumption, Ansbro served the Church of St. Margaret in Pearl River, the Church of St. Malachy in New York City, Church of St. Patrick in Bedford and Saint Columbanus Church in Cortlandt.

Morrow said Ansbro dealt with many health issues throughout his time at Assumption, including hepatitis, diabetes, a brain aneurysm and heart surgery, but that didn’t stop him from carrying God’s message in a special way that made him a legendary figure.

“He was simply who he was, humble, unassuming,” Morrow said. “He was a throwback to a simpler, old fashion time. He was a people person. His gift was the one on one. I can never put my gratitude in words. I deeply loved him.”

Ansbro was laid to rest at Assumption Cemetery in Cortlandt.


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