DANVILLE — For 25 years, Father F. Richard Snoke has served not only the parish of St. Luke Catholic Church, but the entire Danville community.
Snoke has left his mark on the area with his community and parish work, but it is his relationship with the people of the area that is special.
“I’ve married people, watched their kids grow up, and married them. ... It’s gratifying,” he said.
“It was a delight to come here,” he explained. He grew up in rural Fairfield County, southwest of Lancaster, on his grandparents’ 350-acre farm. He was active in 4-H, even having the grand champion market hog at the 1949 Fairfield County Fair.
“This is a friendly, family-oriented parish. Lots of places, people come to the service and run off. Here they stand around and talk. People reach out to others; it’s a caring and sharing community.”
Snoke’s connection with the people of the parish showed up as he neared his 12th anniversary here in 1999. The Columbus Diocese has a general rule that priests don’t stay at a parish more than 12 years, but as that date approached, about 120 members of the parish wrote to Bishop James Griffin asking that he be allowed to stay at his post. Griffin granted the exemption to let Snoke stay at St. Luke’s.
He was the recipient of the parish’s Father Lamy Award in 1998. (Lamy was one of the early priests at Danville, founded several Catholic churches, including St. Vincent de Paul in Mount Vernon, and eventually became archbishop of Santa Fe.)
As a member of ADAM (the Association of Danville Area Ministers) he was one of the founders of Sanctuary Community Action, a center for community programs, in 1995. The Sanctuary is also the umbrella organization for Interchurch Social Services in Danville.
He served as a member of the Knox County Educational Business Advisory Council for the Knox County Career Center and was a member of the Drug and Alcohol Freedom Center, serving two terms as president and also serving as chair of the Personnel Committee. He has also participated in Hospice workshops and as a member of ADAM, was part of the effort to reinstate the Baccalaureate ceremony for graduating seniors at Danville and East Knox high schools.
He was instrumental in starting or maintaining many programs at St. Luke’s, including many youth programs and retreats.
He is also the Father Prior (chaplain) for the Bishop George A. Fulcher Jr. Columbia Squires Circle (he founded the circle at St. Luke’s in 1988) and has been state Father Prior for the Columbian Squires for more than 20 years. Columbian Squires is an organization for young men sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. He is also active in the Knights of Columbus and was recently named state chaplain.
When Snoke began his college education, it wasn’t to become a priest, but to study agriculture at Ohio State University. But after two years at Ohio State, he felt called to become a priest and entered St. Charles Borremeo Seminary School in Columbus, graduating in 1961 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts. He also pursued undergraduate studies in classics at Ohio State in the summer and received his theological training at Mount St. Mary of the West in Norwood.