The Rev. Joseph Vamos, a retired Roman Catholic priest who served as pastor at parishes in the Toledo diocese for nearly three decades, died Wednesday in Bay Park Hospital in Oregon. He was 78.
Father Vamos died of complications from treatments he was receiving for terminal cancer, his brother, John Vamos said. The priest had battled bladder cancer for several years and it had spread into his liver, he said.
Father Vamos retired from St. Agnes Church in Toledo in 2002 after serving the parish for five years. In retirement he continued pastoral work by celebrating Masses at area parishes and hospitals in the Mercy Health Partners organization.
The son of Hungarian immigrants, he grew up near St. Stephen Church in East Toledo’s Birmingham neighborhood. His brother said he attended the parish grade school and did at least one year of studies at Central Catholic High School.
While in high school, he entered St, Meinrad School of Theology in Indiana. He was ordained on May 27, 1961, at Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral by Bishop George Rehring.
Father Vamos’ first parish was St. Rose Church in Lima, Ohio, where he served briefly. He was assistant pastor at St. Joseph Church, Fremont, from 1961 to 1967 and transferred to Regina Coeli Church, Toledo, serving from 1967 to 1972.
Father Vamos was then given his first pastoral assignment at St. Aloysius Church in Republic, Ohio, and its sister parish St. Stephen Church, where he stayed until 1975. He was also pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, Deshler, and St. Louis Church in Custar from 1975 to 1976, St. Michael the Archangel (1976 to 1983), and Regina Coeli Church (1983 to to 1994).
He served his home parish of St. Stephen from 1994 to 1997.
His brother said helping parishioners, especially the ones who were most in need, was important to him, and he was known to have paid the expenses for children who couldn’t afford to go on field trips or graduation trips.
“He was just a very simple man who loved being the shepherd to the people and doing God’s work the best he could,” Mr. Vamos said.
Father Vamos took on many building and renovation projects at the parishes where he was assigned, including working on the convent at Regina Coeli.
“Just about every parish he has been he did some minor to serious renovations,” Mr. Vamos said.
Father Vamos was very proud of his Hungarian heritage, and had traveled to Hungary to visit relatives at least six times, his brother said. He also made trips to Rome as well as Florida with other priests through the years.
Surviving are his sister, Sister M. Hyacinthe Vamos, of the Daughters of Divine Charity, and brothers, Stephen, Frank, and John Vamos.
The reception of the body and vespers will be at 4 p.m. today in St. Stephen Catholic Church, 1878 Genesee St., where visitation will be until 8 tonight and 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday.
The funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday in the church, with the Most Rev. Leonard Blair, bishop of the Toledo diocese, presiding.
The family requests tributes to Helping Hands of St. Louis, St. Kateri Catholic Academy, Daughters of Divine Charity, or to the charity of the donor’s choice.
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