Beloved campus priest passes away at 50

Beloved campus priest passes away at 50

BLOOMINGTON — Monsignor Gregory Ketcham, the beloved former chaplain and director of the UI's St. John's Catholic Newman Center, has died, the Diocese of Peoria announced Thursday.

Just before the holidays, Monsignor Ketcham, 50, was placed in hospice care, a year and a half after sharing with his parish in Bloomington that he had been diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor.

He died Thursday morning in the rectory at St. Patrick Church of Merna, where he became pastor in 2014, following an eight-year stay in Champaign-Urbana.

"It is with great sadness that Bishop Jenky has asked me to inform you of the death of Msgr. Gregory Ketcham," Monsignor James Kruse, vicar general of the Diocese of Peoria, wrote in an email Thursday to diocese staff. "Let us pray for the repose of his soul and for his grieving family."

Funeral arrangements remained incomplete as of Thursday afternoon.

Among the many Monsignor Ketcham touched since being ordained 24 years ago was Lee Brokaw, now the parochial vicar at Champaign's St. Matthew Parish, a member of his congregation in western Illinois as a kid. The two would cross paths again years later, when Brokaw was a student at the UI and the priest introduced him to a FOCUS missionary.

He'll be remembered as "a virtuous man and incredible priest," Brokaw said.

"Monsignor Ketcham was the first priest to propose to me that I could be called to be a priest, even though I had never considered it as an ag econ major and planned to work in agribusiness and return to the family farm," Brokaw said. "He encouraged me to pray, and he encouraged me to not only live my faith myself but to share it with those in Nabor House and the people I hung around regularly."

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