Fr. Maurice Chase, ‘dollar bill’ priest, dies at 92 Funeral Mass was scheduled Dec. 9 at St. Catherine Church, Dinuba, for Father Maurice Gordon Chase, 92, who died November 20 at his Los Angeles home from cancer.
Father Chase was known to many along Los Angeles’ skid row as “Father Dollar Bill” for handing out dollar bills (and, on occasion, larger amounts) to the poor on Sundays and holidays. Although he often arrived unannounced, he quickly had a long line of people eager to accept the donations which for many years were supplied by entertainment industry notables, including Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra.
He said he was undeterred by criticism that his donations might be spent on alcohol or drugs.
“I’m out here to tell people I love them and God loves them,” Father Chase stated in an interview a few years ago, “to touch the poor.”
Born in Dinuba on March 17, 1919, he attended law school, but then studied for the priesthood at St. Paul's College in Washington and was ordained in 1953 by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. He served at Sacred Heart Church in Palm Desert, where he met the Eisenhowers and other famous retirees, then moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1960s and became a fundraising assistant to Jesuit Father Donald Merrifield, president of Loyola Marymount University.
In the 1980s Father Chase developed the idea for distributing money along skid row, an activity he pursued with vigor until his illness became too advanced. He is survived by two sisters and many nieces and nephews.
Fr. Claudio De Agostini, CSJ Funeral Mass was held Nov. 25 at St. Peter Church in San Pedro for Congregation of St. Joseph Father Claudio De Agostini, 80, who died Nov. 22.
Born in Padova, Italy, he entered the Religious Order of the Congregation of St. Joseph (Fathers of St. Joseph) in 1947 as a teenager and was ordained a priest in 1958. He spent the next 18 years as a missionary in Ecuador before being sent by his superiors to the U.S. in 1976, where he served locally as an associate pastor at St. Peter Church and also spent time ministering in Cleveland, Ohio.
From 1983 to 2010, he served in the L.A. Archdiocese as pastor at St. Peter Church, where he pioneered programs for youth and young adults. Devoted to prayer, evangelization and youth ministry, Father De Agostini founded the Encuentro Juvenil Espiritu Young Adult Group 25 years ago which still meets weekly.
“He was quite hard-working and very dedicated to his parishioners,” said Congregation of St. Joseph Father Joseph Scalco, pastor of St. Peter Church. Known for his sense of humor and positive attitude during his last illness, Father De Agostini continued to help out with administrative duties at St. Peter until his death. Burial was at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes.
Fr. Lorenzo De Dominici Funeral Mass was held Nov. 17 at Mary Star of the Sea Church in San Pedro for Father Lorenzo De Dominici, 88, who died Nov. 7. Retired and living privately since 2009, Father De Dominici served in the archdiocese in a number of assignments for 55 years.
Born in Savigliano (Cuneo), Italy, he was ordained at the Cathedral of Fossano (Piemonte), Italy, in 1946. After serving for ten years in the Diocese of Fossano, he moved to Los Angeles where he was chaplain to Italian Catholics in San Pedro.
Father De Dominici held several associate pastor positions through the years at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Sun Valley; Our Lady of Peace, North Hills; St. Peter, San Pedro (Administrator Pro Tem); Our Lady of Malibu, Malibu; St. Paul, Los Angeles; St. Lucy, Long Beach; St. Joseph, Pomona; and Mary Star of the Sea (1978-94).
Sr. Elizabeth Butler, SJC Funeral Mass was held Oct. 6 for Sister of St. Joseph of Cluny Elizabeth Butler, who died after a short illness Oct. 2 in Cluny Convent, Mary Star of the Sea, San Pedro.
A native of Ireland, she professed her religious vows in 1958 and ministered for many years in elementary education. In recent years, she co-directed the Poverty Program in Ss. Peter and Paul Church, Wilmington. She walked on errands all over Wilmington and many knew her as “Sister Smiley.” Surviving family members include her nephew, Gerard Armstrong, of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Church, Lomita. Burial was at All Souls Cemetery.