Originally was born and raised in South Vietnam
Came to the U.S.A. on June 23, 1984
A member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) since 1994
Profession of Final vows: September 2002
Year of ordination: June 7, 2003
First assignment after ordination to the priesthood: Divine Word College Seminary from 2003-2009
2009-2010: Studied Spanish in Bolivia
August 2, 2010: Assigned to Saint Patrick Parish as Associate Pastor
April 10, 2011: Installed as pastor of St. Patrick's
Rev. Chau Pham, S.V.D.
Former Pastor 2007-2011
- Appointed by Bishop John Michael D'Arcy as the fourteenth pastor in 2007.
Father Tim Wrozek
Former Administrator 2006-2007
- Appointed by Bishop John Michael D'Arcy as temporary administrator in 2006.
Father Jack Overmyer
Former Pastor 2005-2007
- Appointed by Bishop John Michael D'Arcy as the thirteenth pastor in 2005.
The following is from Today's Catholic by Mark Weber:
When he was a boy, Jack Overmyer’s parents often told him and his brothers and sisters that if any of them were blessed with a religious vocation, they, as parents, would be proud and happy.
Each time Jack heard this, he thought, “Please, God ... call one of them, not me!”
As time went by it seemed that those silent prayers had been answered in Jack’s favor. He was happy at Leo High School and then at Purdue University; and when his feet first found the circuitous path, which would take him to the priesthood, it was because he was at the cusp of proposing to his girlfriend of four years. They had also decided that as a couple and potential parents, they should take a deeper look at their faith and their responsibilities as parents.
In response to this, Jack became involved with the RCIA at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in West Lafayette and sponsored a young man who was seeking to be baptized.
Jack’s taste of the faith gave him an extreme hunger for more, taking him to the point where he considered the possibility that maybe doing “Church stuff” full time might not be such a bad life. Within two years, partially due to Jack’s constant excited talk about how much he liked what he was doing at St. Thomas, he and his girlfriend broke up. Was God calling him to be a priest? Some family members heard him talking this way, and believed he was not hearing a call from God, but was merely over reacting to the break up.
After he had graduated with a degree in electrical engineering, he began working as a software engineer, and was seriously interested in another woman, Becky, a non-Catholic coworker, who was a strong nondenominational Christian.
Together, they had extensive discussions about religion, their relationship, and the undertow that was pulling Jack toward priesthood.
One day they had an epiphany. On the very same day they announced to each other that they had the answer to their problem. Independently, each had arrived at the same conclusion; Jack should enter the seminary. If it were not
right for him, he would hate it, get out, and get married.
That didn’t happen. Jack loved his new life and was ordained as a priest by Bishop John M. D’Arcy on Nov. 29, 1997.
Becky ultimately became a Catholic after marrying another strong Catholic man, and Jack has had the opportunity to baptize two of her children.
Today, Father Jack Overmyer is resident chaplain at Saint Anne Home and Retirement Community in Fort Wayne.
He finds great satisfaction in his work there and is especially impressed by the interwoven love of the staff and residents, displayed in many ways but daily expressed when a nurse or aid is kneeling on the ground caring for the feet or
leg of a patient, the time taken by many staff to sit down and comfort an upset resident, or encourage one another.
Jack Overmyer, the boy who prayed, “God, don’t make me a priest,” is now thankful that somehow, God helped him to hear his call to become a priest and is extremely grateful that God did ask him.
Monsignor William Lester
Former Administrator 2004-2005
- Appointed by Bishop John Michael D'Arcy as temporary administrator in 2004.
The following is from Today's Catholic by Vince LaBarbera:
Msgr. J. William Lester, P.A., a beloved and very respected senior priest who served the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend for 65 years as a priest, died Saturday morning, Feb. 20, after a brief illness.
Msgr. Lester served in many parishes of the diocese as pastor and administrator. He also served as vicar general and chancellor, and rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne. He was a former superintendent of Catholic Schools for the diocese and was principal of Central Catholic High School in Fort Wayne and Huntington Catholic High School.
Arrangements are as follows: Wednesday, Feb. 24, reception of the body and rosary at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Fort Wayne, at 4:30 p.m.; visitation from 4:30 to 8 p.m. with Evening Prayer and Vigil Service at 7 p.m. On Thursday, Feb. 25, visitation will take place at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception from 10 to 10:45 a.m., with a funeral Mass at 11 a.m. at the cathedral. Burial will be held at 3 p.m. at Fairview Cemetery in Bluffton where his mother is buried.
Originally from Gary, Msgr. Lester was born Nov. 25, 1919, to James W. Lester and Ida M. Effinger-Lester.
Msgr. Lester attended Holy Angels Elementary School there and studied for two years at Bishop Noll High School in Hammond. His remaining secondary education was at St. Lawrence Seminary, Mt. Calvert, Wis. He attended St. Lawrence College in Mt. Calvary, Wis. and his theological study was at Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., where he earned both bachelors and master’s degrees.
He was ordained to the priesthood on Aug. 24, 1945, by Bishop John F. Noll in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Fort Wayne.
Msgr. Lester has been associated with Catholic education in the local diocese since his first priestly assignment at St. Mary Parish, Huntington, in September 1945. The pastor, Father Thomas E. Dillon, served as the superintendent of schools at that time and the young Father Lester, as the associate pastor, assisted the pastor with much of the school administrative work. Two years later, Father Lester officially was connected to Catholic education when he was appointed principal of Huntington Catholic High School. He continued his support of Catholic education by accepting in 1951 the appointment as principal of Central Catholic High School in Fort Wayne. He retained this position while also accepting the assignment as superintendent of schools in 1957 as well as rendering assistance to the religious sisters and children at St. Vincent Villa where he lived in Fort Wayne.
In 1960, Father Lester was invested as a monsignor, and in 1964 he was appointed to the diocesan building commission. In this capacity, he supported Catholic schools and helped ensure their continued existence through financial accountability. During his tenure, he was instrumental in organizing teaching requirements and licensing for lay teachers who were quickly replacing teaching religious sisters. He also had a hand in the plan and design of both Bishop Luers and Bishop Dwenger high schools, and Marian High School, Mishawaka.
In 1970, Msgr. Lester was named pastor of St. Jude Parish, Fort Wayne, and two years later appointed diocesan director of lay activities for the Fort Wayne area. In 1978, he was appointed pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Elkhart. In 1981, he began serving a two-year assignment in the Archdiocese of Miami under the direction of Archbishop Edward McCarthy.
He returned to Fort Wayne in 1983 and was appointed Episcopal vicar for education with residence at Queen of Angels Parish. In 1985 — while carrying out his role of director of continuing education for the clergy — he assumed the position of pastor of St. Aloysius Parish, Yoder, and at the request of Bishop John D’Arcy, newly appointed eighth Bishop of the local diocese, agreed to again serve as superintendent of schools for one year.
In April 1986, Msgr. Lester — along with Msgr. James Wolf — was appointed vicar general and co-chancellor of the diocese, and about three weeks later both priests were named co-rectors of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne.
In July 1995, Msgr. Lester was elevated to Protonotary Apostolic (PA). In 2005, he was awarded a Light of Learning Award by the Catholic Schools Office and the Council of Catholic School Teachers, representing all of the teachers, administrators and students of the diocese.
Also in May of 2005, the diocese announced that Bishop Dwenger and Bishop Luers high schools in Fort Wayne had created a $1,000 scholarship in the name of Msgr. Lester to be awarded annually to two recipients entering the freshman class at both schools.
In more recent times of need, such as the death of a pastor and even the retirement of an auxiliary bishop, Msgr. Lester has agreed to step in to fill a vacancy temporarily. He had been serving as the Vicar of Retired Clergy since April 10, 2000.
Father Angel Valdez
Former Pastor 2003-2004
Father Jeffery Largent
Former Pastor 2001-2003
- Appointed by Bishop John Michael D'Arcy as the twelfth pastor in 2001.
Father Glenn Kohrman
Former Pastor 1998-2001
- Appointed by Bishop John Michael D'Arcy as the eleventh pastor in 1998.
The following is by Mark Weber:
Why does a young man who likes golf, girls, billiards, motorcycles, family, and who has an engineering degree from Purdue University get off the bike, kiss the girls goodbye and say, I want to follow Jesus?
That's what Glenn Kohrman, from New Haven did, and his explanation of his urge to follow the holy footsteps was because he observed that "Christ went to others to let them know how the Father had sent Him to redeem us and open the doors of salvation to us."
Now, as a priest for 17 years and pastor of St. Vincent de Paul parish, Elkhart, where he offers Mass in Spanish and English, he feels that his priesthood is specially enriched by the Mass and Confession and says, "...in Confession, you can help people really experience the mercy of God in a very real and tangible way."
In response to the question, "What can be done to encourage vocations to the priesthood and religious life?", Father Kohrman says, "If we live our faith, it will be very attractive. God wants us to be happy and if we follow His perfect will, we will simply be more perfectly happy! We must encourage everybody to seriously ask the question, What does God want me to do with my life, to serve my spouse or serve the Church to be Christ's servant through religious life." He goes on to say, "Seminarians come from families, the best place to grow...(seminarian comes from the word seed) seminarians are in good Catholic families!"
As a challenge facing the Church, Father Glenn Kohrman observes that many today confuse pluralism with denying that which is true. People are often afraid to proclaim the richness and the beauty of all the Church's teachings. The only reason why something is sinful is because it hurts the person or hurts society; from abortion to contraception, these have done profound damage to the Culture of Life!
As to the greatest hope for the Church, he sees what seems to be an awakening among the youth to the richness of the Church and her mission and a tremendous vigor in areas of the Church that are recapturing the beauty of the Faith.
Father Jim Koons
Former Pastor 1991-1998
- Appointed by Bishop John Michael D'Arcy as the tenth pastor in 1991.
Father Richard P. Hire
Former Pastor 1983-1991
- Appointed byBishop William McManus as the ninth pastor in 1983.
Father Thomas E. Doriot
Former Pastor 1981-1983
- Appointed by Bishop William McManus as the eighth pastor in 1981.
The following is from Today's Catholic News, August 6, 2013:
Father Thomas E. Doriot, a priest of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, died July 27 in Sacramento, Calif. He was 89. Born in Fort Wayne on March 21, 1924, to Jule and Margaret, Father Doriot attended St. Patrick School, Fort Wayne. He was part of the charter class of Central Catholic High School, Fort Wayne, and graduated in 1942. He attended St. Lawrence Seminary in St. Calvary, Wis., and St. Meinrad Seminary in St. Meinrad. He was ordained June 11, 1949 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception by Bishop John F. Noll, the same cathedral in which his parents were married.
Father Doriot was appointed associate pastor at Holy Angels Church in Gary, Ind., in 1949. In 1956 he moved to New Haven where he served at St. John the Baptist Parish. He also served as associate pastor at St. John the Baptist and Sacred Heart in Fort Wayne and St. Vincent de Paul Church in Elkhart.
He was appointed pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption in South Bend in 1966, and later served as pastor of St. Michael in Plymouth and St. Patrick in Fort Wayne.
Father Doriot retired in 1986 and in 1989 moved to the Diocese of Sacramento to be near his only sibling, Providence Sister Thomas Jeanne Doriot. He assisted in parishes there in his retirement years.
Sister Doriot said her brother, 13 years her senior, was a people person. “He loved serving people,” she noted, adding that he had a great sense of humor. She recalled their close-knit family and said, “He was very devoted to our family, mom and dad and me, and to all families.” During his academic career the Sisters of Providence played an important role in his life, Sister Doriot said.
Sister Doriot also recalls his inspirational preaching, saying, “I remember he gave good homilies. And he inherited our dad’s good voice.” Jule Doriot was a choir member at St. Patrick and sang at other area events. And she said Father Doriot was devoted to the Edmonite Missions, but contended, “Mass really was the center of his life.”
Msgr. Bernard Galic, pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in Yoder, served with Father Doriot in Plymouth at St. Michael Church. Father Doriot, he recalled, “was a man who loved the Priesthood.” And, he said, he also loved to host priests on the weekends. “Father Doriot was quite a chef,” noted Msgr. Galic, who was a frequent guest at Father Doriot’s dinner table on Sunday.
Lifelong friend and tennis partner Jim Robinson who graduated high school with Father Doriot agreed saying, “He was a real good priest.” Over the years, as Father Doriot entered seminary and Robinson joined the Navy and during the years of service that followed, the two men remained fast friends. Robinson recalled that even when they lived far from each other they called or visited when they could. “It was a real good friendship,” he said.
Following retirement in 1986, Father Doriot moved to the west coast four years later where his sister found an apartment for him across the street from her own. During his retirement years there, Father Doriot was a “supply priest,” who “helped out at parishes and traveled anywhere they needed help,” said Sister Doriot.
For the past two years, as Father Doriot’s health diminished he moved to a care home where Sister Doriot spoke and prayed with him every night. The staff that cared for Father Doriot there “considered him a blessing,” said Sister Doriot.
A Funeral Mass for Father Doriot was held in Sacramento at Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church on Aug. 1.
Visitation in Fort Wayne was held at St. Patrick Church on Monday, Aug. 5, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial and burial at Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne.
Monsignor Raymond J. Balzer
Former Pastor 1975-1981
- Appointed by Bishop Leo Pursley as the seventh pastor in 1975.
The following is from Today's Catholic News, September 18, 2012:
Msgr. Raymond Balzer, a retired priest from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, died Monday, Sept. 17, at Saint Anne Home and Retirement Community in Fort Wayne, where he was a resident. He was 89 years old.
A native of Beaver Falls, Pa., he was born June 20, 1923, one of eight children of Frederick L. and Rose M. (Hartleb) Balzer. He attended St. Mary’s School for eight years in Beaver Falls, Pa., and then attended Pontifical College Josephinum in Worthington, Ohio, for 12 years. Ordained by Apostolic Delegate Cardinal Amleto G. Cicognani at Pontifical College Josephinum on June 4, 1949, Msgr. Balzer has served the diocese as an assistant and pastor at many parishes. As assistant pastor, he served at Our Lady of Hungary in South Bend, St. Patrick in Fort Wayne and St. Mary in Huntington.
As pastor, he served at St. Patrick, Lagro; St. Robert Parish in North Manchester; St. Mary, Huntington; St. Jude, South Bend; St. Patrick, Fort Wayne; St. Michael, Plymouth; St. Rose, Monroeville; and Immaculate Conception, Auburn. Father Balzer retired in 1999 and moved to Saint Anne Home in Fort Wayne in 2005.
As a senior priest in November of 2009, he received the title of “monsignor,” an award granted by the pope, usually at the request of the local bishop. In a 2009 interview with Today’s Catholic, when Msgr. Balzer was preparing to celebrate 60 years in the priesthood, he said what drew him to the priesthood was, “all of the good examples set forth by my parents, the parish priest, sisters and my hometown of Beaver Falls, Pa. There is a special closeness in this town.” When asked what he liked best about being a priest, he said, “Serving the Church! The priesthood is not a privilege, but a life of service.”
Msgr. Balzer’s large family provided him with over 20 nieces and nephews. One niece, Rosemary Fitzpatrick, recalls Msgr. Balzer as a gentle and humble man. “He and I were inseparable,” she said, “Father Ray was like my dad.” She recalls his visits home for Thanksgiving when he would take all the children of the family on a hike to allow time and space for the adults to prepare the meal in peace. “He loved doing that. He did it for 60 years!” she said.
Another endearing aspect of this devout priest was his devotion to the University of Notre Dame football. Fitzpatrick said chuckling, “He was a real Notre Dame fan. You couldn’t even talk to him when he was watching Notre Dame.” “He was a very faithful person,” Fitzpatrick said. During her many travels to Fort Wayne to visit Msgr. Blazer for birthdays and holidays she notes, “that everyone called him a saint.”
Of the others who knew Msgr. Balzer, Arlene Kiel of Fort Wayne, has the special memories reserved for one who served as his parish secretary in two parishes, St. Patrick, Fort Wayne, and St. Rose, Monroeville. “He had friends in every parish where he served,” she recalls, “and although he loved and lived every aspect of the priesthood, he was so proud of those he brought into the faith, that he kept a record … 297 converts in his 63 years of priesthood.” Arlene and her husband John’s friendship with Msgr. Balzer deepened into a caregiver aspect in monsignor’s retirement years at Saint Anne Home, as they assisted him with visits to doctors’ and dentists’ offices. They were often his hosts on Christmas Eve. The Kiels cherish many memories of “the Monsignor” and one of their favorites is when the three of them returned to St. Patrick’s, Fort Wayne, where Msgr. Balzer celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Mass.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades will celebrate a Mass of Christian Burial scheduled for 11 a.m. Sept. 20 at St. Patrick Church, Fort Wayne, where Msgr. Balzer served as associate pastor from 1951 to 1952 and as pastor from 1975 through 1981. He will be buried in the Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne.
Father Robert J. Hammond
Former Pastor 1974-1975
- Appointed by Bishop Leo Pursley as the sixth pastor in 1974.
The following is from the Saint Meinrad's website:
Father Hammond, 88, who was a teacher and principal at Central Catholic High School in Fort Wayne and served at several parishes in the diocese, died at Lutheran Hospital.
Born April 4, 1923, in Chicago, he was the son of Rupert and Johanna (Ryan) Hammond. Father Hammond attended St. Dorothy School in Chicago as a youngster. His college studies were at Mt. Carmel College in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Loyola University and Chicago University in Chicago. His seminary studies were at St. Meinrad Seminary in southern Indiana.
Father Hammond was ordained to the priesthood on June 4, 1952, at Sacred Heart Church, Notre Dame, by Bishop Albert F. Cousineau, CSC.
His first assignment was teaching at Central Catholic High School, beginning in June 1952. In 1953, he was appointed an assistant at St. John the Baptist Church, Fort Wayne, and continued to teach at Central Catholic. In 1955, he was appointed as assistant at Queen of Angels Church in Fort Wayne while continuing to teach at Central Catholic.
On May 31, 1960, Father Hammond was appointed principal of Central Catholic High School. On July 1, 1969, he was appointed the director of religious education for the diocese.
Other appointments included pastor of Queen of Angels Church, Fort Wayne, in 1972; pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Fort Wayne in 1974; pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Fort Wayne, in 1977; pastor of St. Martin de Porres Parish, Syracuse, in 1980; pastor of St. Stanislaus Parish, New Carlisle, in 1988; and pastor of St. Robert Parish, North Manchester, in 1989.
Father Hammond retired on Sept. 1, 1997.
Having ministered as associate pastor with Father Hammond at Sacred Heart Parish, Fort Wayne, in the late 1970s, Msgr. Robert Schulte, vicar general and chancellor of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, developed a friendship with Father Hammond that lasted through the years. Msgr. Schulte kept in close contact for several years. He said Father Hammond especially enjoyed pastoral ministry.
Msgr. Schulte noted that Father Hammond had an interest in running as a form of exercise, and enjoyed reading. He was an avid reader of Today’s Catholic, Msgr. Schulte said, and added that Father Hammond would often send a note to the bishops commenting about a story in the newspaper.
Father Hammond enjoyed ministering at nursing homes, especially as he aged. Father Hammond often had a rosary in hand whenever Msgr. Schulte visited. And just five years ago, he replaced his breviary that was worn out.
Father Hammond is survived by nieces and cousins who reside in Wisconsin.
Father Vernon J. Rosenthal
Former Pastor 1971-1974
- Appointed by Bishop Leo Pursley as the fifth pastor in 1971.
Father Edward A. Miller
Former Pastor 1962-1971
- Appointed by Bishop Leo Pursley as the fourth pastor in 1962.
The following is by Father Vincent J.Giese:
Spending a quiet evening with Father Edward Miller, a retired priest who will celebrate his Golden Anniversary as a priest this Sunday, is a spiritual tonic for us priests who are still laboring in the vineyard.
Listening to a priest of the Fort Wayne Diocese retrace his fifty years of priesthood puts our own priesthood in perspective. At times we seem to be spending so much of our time stomping out fires and meeting day-to-day needs of the people in our pastoral ministry we need from time to time to see it all in a mosaic of life-long service to the Church to appreciate the value and importance of priesthood.
From his first assignment in Michigan City, where he spent his first six years in a variety of ministries from jail chaplain to hospital chaplain to parish priest, on through his last nine years of retirement, where in his declining years has managed to continue his ministry, in face of crippling arthritis, Father Miller today presents the figure of seasoned priest who has seen it all and who today reveals a beautiful resignation to the crosses the Lord has visited him in his later years coupled with days spent in long periods of prayer and quiet reflection.
The important thing is he manages to keep busy with pursuing relationships with dear friends and yet today, as it has been throughout his life, makes the celebration of the Mass the center of his spiritual life, not an activity tagged on to busy days.
In fact, that is his one piece of fraternal advice to his brother priests. "Make the Mass central to your life and keep up your prayer life, and everything else will work out." Good advice indeed.
My evening recently with Father Miller was something very special for me. The last time I had visited with Father Miller was nearly 30 years ago--a mere teenage lad at Central Catholic High School, where I played second violin in his CC orchestra. Until my return to Fort Wayne six months ago, we had lost contact, so it was a special kind of reunion--between a priest who influenced me in my youth and my self, now a priest like him, although late coming into the priesthood. The mystery of God's ways.
Those days at the new C.C.H.S. (class of '41) were rich days for all of us, when the diocesan priests came into the new school as our teachers. Fathers Maoski, Gollner, Miller, Len Cross, John Frawley, Suelzer, Wirtz, Conway--and so manyothers--. We have all grown older and wiser together, but the impact of those dedicated and enthusiastic men of our lives have alsoe made CC a very special part of our lives.
Father Eddie brought it all back into focus as we wined and dined together in the comfort of his small apartment in Fort Wayne, where he celebrates Mass every morning for some of the neighbors. He estimates some 8,000 people have attended Mass is his home since his retirement in 1970. The pastor is still at work.
We tend to forget. Or maybe we just never knew. It was one thing to be part of his orchestra or his band at CC. It is another thing to know how he single-handedly put the new music program together, conned Bishop Noll out of band instruments, and all the while was pastor of a then small St. Vincent's parish.
It is another thing to recall how he built one of the largest CYO organizations at St. Mary's, cleaned up the old school for clubrooms, put in a photographic lab, and staged plays upstairs. Youth work, which today seems a lost art tin the Church, was always a vital part of the young priest's pastoral ministry.
From 1953 until 1962, he was pastor of St. Mary's in Huntington, a pastorate he loved and fully expected to remain at until retirement, when he received still another call to become pastor of St. Patrick's in Fort Wayne, to replace a legend in his own time, Monsignor Monahan. The St. Patrick's assignment was not easy, because of the almost complete remodel of school, church, rectory, and convent he had to face, but he did it with characteristic enthusiasm until his creeping arthritis forced retirement in 1970.
So there we have the mosaic--prison work, hospital work, music director, spiritual director of a high school, youth work with CYO, pastor, building renovator--the growing old "gracefully" of a hard-working diocesan priest. That was pretty much the life-pattern of most of the priests we knew and grew up with. May it always be thus.
Those last fifty years were not the easiest years--but then what 50 years are--for a priest who lived through the Great Depression (his father raised a family of six on a 40 acre farm in Waterloo), World War II, and Vatican II.
Where does Father Miller stand today on all the changes that have occurred in the Church is his lifetime-- the decline in vocations, the laicization of priests, the renewed liturgy? With Characteristic loyalty to the Church, he simply said he decided early that he would support whatever Mother Church called for. It is has not always been easy, but he was one of the first to request permission to say the Breviary in English. He is behind all the liturgical changes--especially the vernacular. His sensitive musician's ears (the violin and his fabled ability to play the trumpet with his left hand an direct the band with his right at the same time) have difficulty with some of the modern guitar Masses--especially when there is a $100,000 pipe organ in the church--but his acceptance of new church music, if it is done proficiently.
He likes what he sees in the new priests of today. "They are 50% better trained for their job than we were" he says. He especially likes the pastoral experience they receive today as deacons before ordination.
Vocations are down because of the allure of the affluent society and the breakdown of family life, he believes. Families don't spend enough time together. "If you don't know someone, you can't love them."
The happiest years of his priesthood? His last years at St. Patrick's, despite the amount of work that had to be done and despite the fact he wasn't too enthusiastic for the appointment when he first received it.
The happiest part of his priesthood? Visiting the sick. Giving instructions. Preparing young couples for marriage. Performing the marriages.
The consolations of the priesthood? His family ties. Although Michigan City (his first assignment) and Waterloo (his home) weren't that far apart, his first six years of priesthood he was lucky to get home twice a year. That's how busy the young priest was.
Memories? Being chaplain at Michigan City stat prison at the time John Dillenger and his group broke out of jail. One of the gang, a Catholic, spent considerable time with Father Miller, as he tried to bring him back to the sacraments. No success. But later after the break out, he was caught in Ohio, sentenced to death in Ohio State Prison, and was reconciled to the Church and buried with full Catholic rites in Lakeville.
Moving experiences? Being with two condemned killers at the time they were electrocuted. Praying with them then and hours before. Anointing them after their electrocution. "The smell of burned flesh remained in my nostrils for days, but I believe I sent two men to heaven."
The heartaches? Seeing young associates, good priests, decide to abandon their commitment and leave the priesthood. The loneliness of retirement, when he would like to have more of his brother priests visit him.
It is all there in the mosaic. Pounding the streets, door to door visitation on foot, finding Catholics and converts. Endless lines of confessions. Packed churches for Forty Hours devotions. Countless First Friday Communion calls. Fifty years fidelity to the Breviary. The rosary.
Well next Sunday, March 18, the priests and bishops of the diocese, the countless people Father Miller ministered to during 50 years of priesthood, his family and close friends, will have an opportunity to say Thank You at his 50th anniversary celebration at St. Patrick's Church in Fort Wayne. All are invited to the Mass. A few close friends, especially those of his retirement years, and his brother priests will have dinner with him afterwards. Concelebrating with him, will be Bishop McManus and his dear friend, Father Dan Richards of the Crosier Center. A rare moment of appreciation in the life of a priest.
Right Reverend Monsignor D.L. Monahan
Former Pastor 1935-1962
- Appointed by Bishop John Francis Noll as the third pastor in 1935.
Right Reverend Monsignor Joseph F. Delaney
Former Pastor 1889-1935
- Appointed by Bishop Joseph Dwenger as the second pastor in 1889.
The following is from the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center:
With a vision of the city's needs quite startling at the time of its inception, he sponsored a progressive program which set a pace for the religious institutions of the city. He was the first in the religious history of Fort Wayne to provide a social center affiliated with the church. His lyceum building was an experiment which has proved its value to the city in recreational and religious work. The Catholic Community Center is the latest fruit from the seed planted and nurtured by Monsignor Delaney.
Monsignor Delaney was born January 15, 1860, at Thompsonville, Connecticut. He was one of six children born to John and Mary Delaney. His father was a native of Roscrea, County Tipperary, and his mother of the Parish of Den, County Cavin, Ireland. His classical and philosophical courses were made at Niagara University, after which he entered St. Francis' Seminary, Milwaukee. After a year here his health failed. He was later sent to St. Vincent's Seminary, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where he completed his course in theology. Father Delaney was ordained a priest in the Cathedral at Fort Wayne by Bishop Dwenger on June 29, 1887. On July 17 he was appointed assistant to the Very Reverend J. H. Brammer, V.G., at the Cathedral. Two years later he succeeded the Reverend T. M. O'Leary as pastor of St. Patrick's Church. He was named irremovable rector by Bishop Alerding and is a diocesan consultor and examiner of the junior clergy.
His long and efficient record won him recognition as monsignor and domestic prelate by the Pope in 1927 and he now bears the title of the Right Reverend Monsignor Delaney. High honors were paid him by the Catholic church at his installation in his new appointments. Immediately upon his appointment to St. Patrick's church, Monsignor Delaney realized the importance of that parish in the future development of Fort Wayne. Four lots on Fairfield avenue had been purchased for the church, and he at once secured the two remaining lots, completing a half square fronting on DeWald street. A seventh lot, opposite the church, was purchased in 1905. The cornerstone was laid May 20, 1890. The church was dedicated in 1891.
Seeing the opportunities for religious and social development before him, he erected a school with a modern assembly hall in 1891, putting it in charge of the Sisters of Providence from St. Mary's-of-the-Woods. Monsignor Delaney, in 1901, erected St. Catharine's Academy ad joining this school. Here a high school and commercial course fitting pupils for business careers were offered. 'The original parochial residence, at 2120 Harrison street, erected in 1891, was remodeled and enlarged in 1906.
Monsignor Delaney's activities have reached beyond his immediate church. He had a prominent part in the Catholic Community Center building fund campaign in 1926. He is a member of the board of directors of the Associated Catholic Charities and has participated in Community Chest campaigns for the support of that social welfare work and the other allied charitable and philanthropic agencies. Father Delaney is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and takes a keen interest in the affairs of that body. During the World War he was a member of the relief board of the Fort Wayne Council for Patriotic Service. He has been in demand from many surrounding cities for addresses, especially for the dedication of church edifices. Failing health, however, has compelled him to forego many activities during the last few years.
He has ever been the friend of men and women in despair and difficulty. He frequently co-operates with police authorities in the quiet rehabilitation of such citizens. Many boys who have erred have found a friend, adviser, and consultant in Monsignor Delaney.
Father Thomas M. O’Leary
Former Pastor 1889
- Appointed as the first pastor in 1889 by Bishop Joseph Dwenger. Father O'Leary passed away three weeks later on October 24, 1889.
The following is by Bishop H.J. Alerding:
Father O'Leary was the son of Thomas and Honora (Lawler) O'Leary. His father was a native of Ardfert, County Kerry, while his mother was born in the village of Banna, in the same county, Ireland. He was born June 8, 1854, at Lafayette, Indiana.
Upon the death of his mother, he was cared for by Father O'Reilly, of Valparaiso, until he entered the University of Notre Dame, where he remained several years. His further education and theological studies were made at St. Francis' Seminary, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and St. Meinrad's Abbey, in Spencer County, Indiana.
On January 26, 1885, Bishop Rademacher of Nashville, Tennessee, ordained Father O'Leary a priest at St. Mary's Church in Fort Wayne, at which time Monsignore Benoit's remains lay in state at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
From the time of his ordination Father O'Leary was assistant at the Catherdral until he was appointed pastor of the new St. Patrick's Parish in Fort Wayne. He departed this life, on October 24, 1889, all too soon, being but a few months over thirty-five years of age at the time of his death. He was a priest of character, dignity, and genuine ability. His remains rest in the Catholic cemetery at Fort Wayne.