Cover photo for Father John Clay's Obituary
Father John Clay Profile Photo
1926 Father 2020

Father John Clay

July 7, 1926 — September 13, 2020

St. Paul

Father John Calvert Clay, age 94, passed away in his sleep September 13, 2020. For forty-eight years he brought hope and love and laughter to his parishioners as pastor of St. Stanislaus Church in Saint Paul.

Father Clay was born to Karl & Mary Clay in Des Moines, Iowa on July 7, 1926. The family moved in 1933 to New Ulm, Minnesota where he was inspired by his sixth-grade sports coach, a Catholic priest, to explore a life of ministry. He began his journey to the priesthood at the age of 15 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, first at Nazareth Hall Preparatory Seminary and then Saint Paul Seminary.

He was ordained in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in 1951 and ministered as pastor of St. Stanislaus Church in Saint Paul from 1975 until he became Pastor Emeritus in 2019. "We are surrounded by love" -- Father Clay preached -- "the love we name God." The parish, affectionately known as St. Stan's, has published his homilies in four volumes: Dear People Whom God Loves, Surrounded by Love, Awesome Love, and Mysterious Love.

Survived by his brother Robert; nieces Gina (Steven) Vullo, Juliana Mandat, Patricia (John McQuaid), Kristin (Paul Setaro), nephews Paul (Chang Jin Li) and John  (Elizabeth), great-nieces Natalie Mandat and Sam McQuaid, and great-nephews Joey Vullo, Matthew McQuaid, and River. Preceded in death by his brothers Karl Jr, James (Alba); sister-in-law Winifred, dear friends Oma & Don Christle.

Father Clay leaves behind his dear friend of 79 years, Father John Brandes; his friend who became family, Eme Lennick. Father enjoyed and appreciated his many beloved staff, board members, volunteers, & friends. It would not have been possible to touch lives with his teachings without the many who carry the message of St. Stanislaus Church.

In recognition of the pandemic, arrangements are designed to support social distancing guidelines. To open the funeral to everyone a virtual funeral will be streamed at at a later date. A public visitation will be held on Sunday, September 20 from 2:00 to 5:00 at St. Stanislaus Church, 398 Superior St., Saint Paul, MN 55102. Condolences may be expressed at the St. Stan’s website. In lieu of flowers, we ask that you offer a charitable donation to St. Stanislaus Church.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Father John Clay, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, September 20, 2020

2:00 - 5:00 pm (Central time)

St. Stanislaus Catholic Church (South Western Ave)


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