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Archdiocesan Priest, Rev. Daniel A. Smilanic, Dies

Smilanic was former judicial vicar and vicar for Canonical Services

Chicago (Feb. 23, 2024) – Rev. Daniel A. Smilanic, former judicial vicar and vicar for Canonical Services, passed away Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. He was 76 years old.

Smilanic was born on July 2, 1947 in Chicago. He attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago, Xavier University in Cincinnati, Loyola University Chicago and the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein. In addition to his master’s degree in divinity, Smilanic had a licentiate and a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy.

Smilanic was ordained to the priesthood on May 9, 1973, by Cardinal John Cody, and he celebrated his first solemn Mass on May 13 of the same year at St. Giles Parish in Oak Park.

After ordination to the priesthood, Smilanic served the archdiocese as assistant pastor of St. Gall Parish on 55th Street in Chicago, and as associate pastor at Mary, Seat of Wisdom Parish in Park Ridge and St. Wenceslaus Parish on Monticello Avenue in Chicago. He served in the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Chicago since 1984, first as a judge and later as vicar. Smilanic also served as the president of the Canon Law Society of America.

Rev. James Joslyn, retired U.S. Navy chaplain, remembered his classmate as a very smart, caring priest. “Fr. Smilanic and I have been friends since our college seminary days. He was on the archdiocesan marriage tribunal for many years and he went out of his way to work with people applying for annulments, recognizing how vulnerable they were during the process,” Joslyn said. “His expertise as a canon lawyer was in demand by many dioceses in the country.  Even in retirement, he was sought after for his canon law knowledge. And he was fun. He will be missed by many."

Rev. John Dearhammer, pastor at Ss. Cecilia and Colette Parish, had been friends with Smilanic for 30 years. “I met him when I was newly ordained in 1991 at St. Maurice Parish on Hoyne Avenue in Chicago and he was a resident there,” Dearhammer said. “Dan was a very intelligent man, very pastoral, friendly and reached out to people. He was a very dedicated priest.”

Most Rev. Jeffrey Grob, auxiliary bishop of Chicago and former colleague, described Smilanic as a thoughtful canonist. “He had a deep respect for canon law especially when it came to the rights of individuals,” Bishop Grob said. “He was very respected throughout the United States.” He added that Smilanic worked as an advocate for priests as a canonical advisor, and was very active in Church leadership. “He had a great laugh and a wonderful sense of humor. A good man.”

The funeral Mass will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at St. Paul of the Cross Parish, 320 S. Washington Ave., in Park Ridge. Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, will celebrate the funeral Mass and Rev. John Lodge, classmate and friend, will be the homilist.

Interment will be at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside.