Educator, administrator leaves legacy in the home he built for his confreres

Father John Fincutter, 1923-2019


Father John Fincutter SVD, the only Divine Word Missionary to serve three consecutive terms as rector of the Techny Community, died on Wednesday, Nov. 27, at age 96.

As rector, Father Fincutter oversaw the construction of the Divine Word Residence.

“John had a keen mind for administration and organization,” said Divine Word Father Quang Duc Dinh, provincial of the Chicago Province. “He knew that a residence for 50-100 retired missionaries had to be more than just a large house. He fashioned the new Divine Word Residence on the standard blueprint for Holiday Inn hotels. Each man had a spacious room with a private bath. He modified the layout to include a large chapel near the entrance in the space normally occupied by hotel meeting rooms.”

Born in Libertyville, Ill., in 1923, John Fincutter was the fourth of Joseph and Clara (nee Folliard) Fincutter’s eight children. He began his studies with the Divine Word Missionaries in 1938, professed vows in 1943 and was ordained to the priesthood at Techny in 1950.

Recognizing his academic abilities, his superiors sent him to England for his first assignment. While in Great Britain, he served as headmaster at St. Richard’s College in Hadzor, Droitwich, Worcs, England. He also served two terms as provincial of the British Province.

After two decades in Great Britain, Father Fincutter returned to the United States. He was elected rector of the Techny Community in 1973 and held that position until 1982. In addition to overseeing the building of the present residence building, he championed the creation of a landfill that produced significant revenue that was used in the Chicago Province and in the foreign missions.

Father Fincutter later taught Scripture at the minor seminary in East Troy, Wis. Divine Word Father vanThanh Nguyen, who delivered Father Fincutter’s eulogy, was one of the elder priest’s students. Now a professor of New Testament Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Father vanThanh called him a man of the Divine Word who was of his time and beyond his time.

“He was a lifelong student of the Bible, capable of discussing and presenting cutting-edge interpretations and understandings of the Scriptures,” Father vanThanh said.

Father Fincutter served as rector of the Divine Word community in East Troy. During his time there, he also was a weekend associate at St. Luke in Brookfield, Wis. In semi-retirement, he acted as business manager for the Divine Word community at East Troy, taught Scripture to adults in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and authored the Arnold Janssen Scripture Study Course.

Father Fincutter moved to Techny in 2013. He is survived by his brother Robert and many nieces and nephews and their families.

He was preceded in death by six siblings including his brother, Father Patrick Fincutter, a Divine Word Missionary who served in Papua New Guinea for many years and founded a transportation hub called Wirui Air Services.

Father John Fincutter’s funeral Mass was Dec. 4 at the Divine Word Residence chapel. He was buried at St. Mary Cemetery at Techny.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in the name of Father Fincutter can be made for the care of retired and infirmed missionaries and may be sent to The Rector, Divine Word Residence, 1901 Waukegan Road, P.O. Box 6000, Techny, IL 60082-6000.


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