this life, I believe no other individual spirit (in human form) created more impact on
those he encountered delivering 'the message.. Life is Your Personal Perspective...Come
laugh with me'.
The Rev. John S. Banahan, 75, who helped bring the Archdiocese of Chicago into the age of radio and television, died Friday at his home in Wheaton.
He spent his last day as he had spent many days of his life - with flair and with his friends. "He had a group of friends in Friday morning, to say goodbye: 'Give me a hug and go.' He died that night" - said his sister Lillian Banahan.
In 1957, Father John Banahan was named first director of the archdiocesan office of radio and television by Samuel Cardinal Stritch, and he held that post until 1978. He launched the weekly televised "Mass for Shut-ins" in 1962, a program still on Sunday TV. He won an Emmy in 1967 for "With Friends Like These," a dramatic TV show that he wrote.
Father Banahan was a friend of television producer Norman Lear and did some writing for Lear's shows in the 1970s and 1980s.
In 1990 he went to Los Angeles to be a consultant on "Sunday Dinner." a weekly TV series Lear was developing. Banahan said then, "It's the first time that a primetime show is going to have a heroine who actually says real prayers. I'm writing scenes." The series made it unto TV, but did not last.
John Banahan was widely known for his sprightly invocations at annual dinners of Chicago journalism groups. "They were humorous and devout," said Edmund J. Rooney, a longtime Chicago Daily News reporter and professor-emeritus of journalism at Loyola University. "He knew his audience and how to relate."
Father Banahan, who was born in Oak Park, attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago and St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein. He was ordained a priest in 1945 and served two years at Christ the King parish in Beverly Hills. Then he was assigned to Holy Name of Mary Church. From there he went to Holy Name Cathedral, where he served seven years and helped young people in the Cappa Club put on stage shows before being named to the archdiocesan radio-TV job.
Father Banahan also did a series of historical films for the Los Angeles Board of Education, and served a year as radio-TV director in the Phoenix diocese. He retired from active ministry several years ago. He is survived by his sister, Lillian Banahan.