Fr. James Toal
Fr. James Toal

Fr. James Toal, OFM, 87, a professed Franciscan for more than 65 years, a priest for 43 years and a former vice president of Siena College, died on July 24 at Bon Secours Maria Manor in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Father Toal was born on June 7, 1932, in Astoria to John and Catherine Toal (nee Whyte). After attending St. Francis Prep School in Brooklyn, he attended St. Francis College in New York City, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in English. He also held a Master’s in English from St. John’s University, and a Ph.D. in college administration and supervision from Fordham University. He studied theology at Boston Theological Institute, Harvard Divinity School, and the Weston School of Theology in Boston.

Father Toal was a member of the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, a Third Order Regular community, from 1952-73, where he was known as Brother Fabian Toal, OSF.

He was received into the Order of Friars Minor on Sept. 14, 1973 at Holy Cross Church in the Bronx by Father Finian Kerwin, OFM, and made his profession on Sept. 17, 1974 at Holy Cross Church.  He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Lawrence Graziano on Dec. 6, 1975 in New York City.

Father Toal spent roughly four decades in educational administration, with positions in leadership at three Franciscan colleges. Before joining the Order of Friars Minor, he served as principal of St. Francis Prep School and Bishop Ford High School, both in Brooklyn. 

After his ordination, Father Toal was stationed at St. Bonaventure University from 1976-83, where he served as executive vice president. In 1983, he was named president of Quincy University in Quincy, Ill., where he served as president for 14 years. In 1997, Father Toal was assigned to Siena College, where he served as vice president and then as special assistant to the president. In 2008, he was assigned to St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg where he served as guardian until 2014. 

Father Toal is survived by his sister Phyllis Dircks of Huntington and a brother, Lawrence Toal of New York City. A Mass of Christian Burial was held on July 29 at St. Mary Our Lady of Grace Church in St. Petersburg. Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars – Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd Street, New York, N.Y. 10001-3202.