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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Monthly Archives: January 2006
Thursday

Redemptorist Father William Heanue who, from his early assignments through his last, preached the novena of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, died Jan. 19 at St. John Neumann Residence in Saratoga Springs, NY. In ill health for some years now, Father Heanue was 86.

The Funeral Mass was offered Monday, Jan. 23, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Mission Church) in Boston, his home town. Burial was at Calvary Cemetery in Boston.

The son of Irish immigrants, William and Ann Conroy Heanue, he was born on Aug. 24, 1919, and was educated at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, where his devotion to the Blessed Mother began. After one year at Mission High, he entered the Redemptorist formation program at St. Mary’s Seminary, North East, PA. He made his first profession of vows in 1942 and his final profession in 1945. He was ordained to the priesthood at Mount St. Alphonsus in Esopus, NY, on June 22, 1947.

A classmate, Father Raymond McCarthy, recalled that his friend was "a serious fellow, a good athlete, very good in English, and a poet." Father Heanue went on to write articles for Liguorian and other religious magazines. "Everyone loved his sermons because they were very deep, very spiritual," Father McCarthy added. "When he was visiting the sick, his sincerity and well-chosen words were a comfort."

Father Heanue’s first assignment was as a teacher at North East. From 1950 to 1961, he served at Immaculate Conception Church in the Bronx. Father Frank Skelly, who grew up in the parish, remembered his elder confrere as "an incredible preacher with a down-to-earth style." Father Heanue preached the novenas there — eight times each Friday, one of them broadcast on radio. Father Frank Sullivan, who was homilist at the funeral and also grew up in the Bronx, spoke of a local Jewish businessman who closed his shop at three o’clock on Fridays and invited the workers to listen to the radio broadcast. Father Sullivan said that the businessman explained: "He’s the only priest I can understand; he talks to the people."

Assigned to St. Gerard Church in Lima, OH, from 1961 to 1968, Father Heanue again was responsible for preaching the novena. The challenge of composing sermons that maintained interest and promoted enthusiasm for the weekly novena was a gift for which he thanked God, he later wrote.

After a year at Notre Dame Retreat House in Canandaigua, NY, (1968-69), Father Heanue spent a short time at St. Boniface Church in Philadelphia and then was named to San Alfonso Retreat House in West End, NJ, further developing his gift for directing retreatants. He served there for 11 years, six of them as rector of the community. He did further retreat work at Holy Family Retreat House in Hampton, VA, (1981 and 1983-86) and helped with parish work in Waynesville, NC, for one year.

Returning to the Baltimore Province, Father Heanue served at St. Clement Church in Saratoga Springs for two years and then went back to St. Gerard Church in Lima (1988-91). As a senior priest, Father Heanue was assigned to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Rectory in Manhattan in 1991. Father McCarthy, who is in residence there, said that "in the morning, you could find him in the garden working with flowers, and again for an hour in the afternoon." He continued to preach about Our Lady of Perpetual Help and directed the Legion of Mary. Despite repeated bouts of illness, he was always eager to get back to work, Father McCarthy said. "He was a very good priest, serious, dedicated. The people loved to talk with him," he added.

In the 1990s, after suffering a stroke, Father Heanue moved to St. John Neumann Residence. Until he became bedridden about a year and a half ago, he continued to preach the novena next door at St. Clement Church. Father Arthur Gildea, former rector of St. John Neumann’s, said: "When it came to talking about Mary, Bill Heanue was always ready." His response to prolonged illness was "patient suffering" which edified the community, he said.

Helen Ford, a parishioner at St. Clement Church, noted that Father Heanue’s preaching of the Wednesday night novena drew about 250 people. "Our Lady of Perpetual Help was his love and we were very fortunate to have him. He was well-loved, believe me," she said.

Father Sullivan, who serves at St. Clement’s and welcomed Father Heanue’s contributions to the parish, said that in addition to his great love for Mary, "he had an extraordinary understanding of and love for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist." When he preached, Father Sullivan added, "I always had the impression he was talking to me, even if there was a big crowd."

Even with Father Heanue’s great gift for using the language, Father Sullivan concluded, "the best homily he ever preached was the life he led."

Sunday

Redemptorist Father Jerome Anthony Moody, the first elected Superior of the English-Speaking Region of the Caribbean, died Jan. 22 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He had suffered previous health crises due to heart disease and diabetes and was in residence at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica (Mission Church) Rectory for easier access to medical treatment. He was 59.

Funeral plans are pending, with interment to be in the Redemptorist mausoleum at Western Cemetery in St. Thomas, VI, in accordance with his request. Memorial Masses will be offered in St. Thomas and in Dominica, where he has served for several years, including his two terms of office as Caribbean Regional Superior. The son of Freddy Lee Moody and Helen Moody Parris, he was born in Manhattan Dec. 17, 1946. At a young age, he and his three siblings moved with their mother to her home island of St. Thomas, where the children were baptized at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral and later attended the parish school.

He pursued his studies for the priesthood at St. Mary’s Seminary in North East, PA; St. Alphonsus College in Suffield, CT; and Mount St. Alphonsus in Esopus, NY. He made his first profession as a Redemptorist in 1966 and his final profession in 1969. He was ordained to the priesthood June 25, 1973, at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, becoming the first Redemptorist Virgin Islander to be ordained on his home island.

Father Moody’s first assignment was to St. James and St. John in Baltimore where, after six years, he was named pastor. In 1984, he was appointed pastor of his home parish, Sts. Peter and Paul, in St. Thomas. While there, he began to mentor the Virgin Islands’ first two West Indian seminarians for the Diocese of St. Thomas: now Bishop Emeritus Elliott G.. Thomas and Father George Franklin. "He was the one who mentored us through our diaconate year," the bishop said. "Because he was the pastor at Sts. Peter and Paul, he introduced us to pastoral ministry in a helpful and practical way. Some of our classmates from other dioceses just got to paint classrooms over the summer, but we visited the sick and sat in on pastoral council meetings. He showed us what it’s like to be a parish priest." Bishop Thomas added that the two kept in touch through the years and visited in Boston just last month.

One of the qualities the people on St. Thomas especially appreciated about Father Moody was his preaching ability and his next assignment, in 1987, was to serve as a full-time mission preacher throughout the Caribbean. His home base was at St. Patrick Church in Frederiksted, St. Croix. While his primary assignment remained in preaching missions and retreats, he was later assigned to residence at Our Lady of Fair Haven Cathedral in Roseau, Dominica, where he also was given responsibility for the radio broadcast of "Voice of the Islands." In 1989, he was chosen to serve as pastor of St. Patrick Church in Grand Bay, Dominica. In addition to his pastoral duties, which extended to mission chapels, he put his energy into repairing the parish church, appealing to friends in the Virgin Islands to help with the project. While work on the church progressed, he himself was living in a rectory with no screens on the windows, according to a longtime friend, Father Frank Skelly. The lack of screens was more than a nuisance because the mosquitos which are plentiful in the region carry dengue, also known as "bone-wrack," fever.

Father Moody went on to serve as director of Holy Redeemer Retreat House in Eggleston, Dominica, which not only served the needs of Dominicans but also of other groups of Catholics from around the Caribbean. He also developed and headed the Family Life Center for the Diocese of Roseau. He searched out materials on any subject that affected family life in Dominica. His sister Freddie Mae Moody Poole and her husband, Eugene Poole, who work in the marriage preparation ministry for the Archdiocese of Washington, provided material for preparing couples for marriage; a friend from St. Thomas, Dr. Alice Hamilton, founder of the Women’s Resource Center, presented a workshop on domestic violence. Much of his work there involved counseling and spiritual direction.

Throughout his ministry in the Caribbean, he dreamed of and worked for the establishment of a Caribbean Region of the Baltimore Province. The establishment of the Region, including Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Croix, was approved in 1999 and Father Moody was elected and reelected Regional Superior. Father Rodney Olive, a St. Thomian who served with him for two terms as Regional Vicar, said: "We shared the dream together and, when the time was ripe, we fought for it." Father Moody, he said, "was the most creative idea person I’ve ever known." He spoke of his confrere’s "passion and commitment" to the ministry. "He was a very caring person and he lived on the cutting edge of life," he said.

Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau said that, during his tenure, Father Moody’s "main focus was on the Secretariat of Family Life, but he also served with the Office for Developing and Implementing the Diocesan Pastoral Plan." The bishop added that the Redemptorist was very supportive of his plans for the diocese and he appreciated the fact that "he was always ready to share new ideas with me."

Boston’s Archbishop Sean O’Malley, formerly Bishop of St. Thomas, spoke of Father Moody’s dedication to the Redemptorist charism of preaching. "I feel the loss of the Redemptorist family and all the people of St. Thomas and Dominica and the many places where his ministry meant so much," he said. "He was a very gifted priest who generously shared his talents, bringing joy and grace into the lives of so many."

It was during his years as Regional Superior that problems with severe heart disease, compounded by diabetes, took a heavy toll. Father Kevin Moley, former Baltimore Provincial Superior, said: "I was in contact with him at different moments in his crises with health. He had confidence in me and I had confidence in him…. I saw the frailties of his heart and when I would see him, he was always appreciative. He was transparent with me; there were no airs about him." He added that for him, as a Provincial Superior, it was very easy to deal with Father Moody as a Regional Superior. "He was a good man, a good priest. He was respectful, intelligent and he wanted the well-being of everyone, especially in the Region," he said.

One of Father Moody’s major concerns was with promoting Redemptorist vocations in the Region and he pushed for the establishment of the Blessed Peter Donders Residence in St. Croix to serve as a formation house and an academic bridge for candidates to prepare for entry to St. John’s University in New York. Brother Gerard St. Hilaire of Dominica is one of the men whose vocation he nurtured, just as he had much earlier in Baltimore with Father Kenneth Gaddy, who went on to serve with him in the Caribbean. Father Gaddy said Father Moody’s dedication to the welfare of the community was inspiring. "His involvement with different organizations put us in the forefront, with restoration projects, community services. He even did an ecumenical outreach." His characteristic concern for others was a trait he developed early, according to Mrs. Moody-Poole. "He was my protector; I could talk to him about anything," she said. She recalled how, when he was in the eighth grade, he got a part-time job — which he kept during the summers of his seminary years — to help out the family. "He bought my sister and me our first dolls," she recalled. "He was my big brother and I respected his opinion. He looked out for us; made sure we did our homework; helped cook." When it was time for her to pursue her studies in microbiology, he was the one who supported her in her desire to attend the Catholic University of Puerto Rico which offered the courses she wanted, she added.

"He had great sensitivity of soul," Father Skelly said. "He was a dreamer; he enjoyed poetry and music when we were in the seminary," he added. "He was a great preacher and he gave a mission at our place in the Bronx in the 1990s. He had a way of capturing people and engaging people with their faith." Throughout his life, Father Moody kept in touch with friends, from childhood, from seminary, from his ministry. As such a friend himself, Father Skelly said: "He was a very loyal person"

Father Moody is survived by his mother, Mrs. Parris; his sisters, Mrs. Moody-Poole and Mrs. Lynda Brown; two brothers-in-law, Eugene Poole and Alvin Brown; a nephew, Alvin M. Brown; five nieces, Michelle Nielsen, Natasha and Anissa Moody, Kishma and Raquesha Brown; and several grandnieces and -nephews. He is predeceased by his father, Freddy Lee Moody, and his brother, Leonard Moody.

 

Rev. Jerome Moody C.Ss.R.

  • Born: December 17, 1946
  • Professed: January 1, 1966
  • Ordained: June 25, 1973
  • Died: January 22, 2006

 

Services

Sunday

Redemptorist Father Jerome Anthony Moody, the first elected Superior of the English-Speaking Region of the Caribbean, died Jan. 22 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He had suffered previous health crises due to heart disease and diabetes and was in residence at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica (Mission Church) Rectory for easier access to medical treatment. He was 59.

Funeral plans are pending, with interment to be in the Redemptorist mausoleum at Western Cemetery in St. Thomas, VI, in accordance with his request. Memorial Masses will be offered in St. Thomas and in Dominica, where he has served for several years, including his two terms of office as Caribbean Regional Superior. The son of Freddy Lee Moody and Helen Moody Parris, he was born in Manhattan Dec. 17, 1946. At a young age, he and his three siblings moved with their mother to her home island of St. Thomas, where the children were baptized at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral and later attended the parish school.

He pursued his studies for the priesthood at St. Mary’s Seminary in North East, PA; St. Alphonsus College in Suffield, CT; and Mount St. Alphonsus in Esopus, NY. He made his first profession as a Redemptorist in 1966 and his final profession in 1969. He was ordained to the priesthood June 25, 1973, at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, becoming the first Redemptorist Virgin Islander to be ordained on his home island.

Father Moody’s first assignment was to St. James and St. John in Baltimore where, after six years, he was named pastor. In 1984, he was appointed pastor of his home parish, Sts. Peter and Paul, in St. Thomas. While there, he began to mentor the Virgin Islands’ first two West Indian seminarians for the Diocese of St. Thomas: now Bishop Emeritus Elliott G.. Thomas and Father George Franklin. "He was the one who mentored us through our diaconate year," the bishop said. "Because he was the pastor at Sts. Peter and Paul, he introduced us to pastoral ministry in a helpful and practical way. Some of our classmates from other dioceses just got to paint classrooms over the summer, but we visited the sick and sat in on pastoral council meetings. He showed us what it’s like to be a parish priest." Bishop Thomas added that the two kept in touch through the years and visited in Boston just last month.

One of the qualities the people on St. Thomas especially appreciated about Father Moody was his preaching ability and his next assignment, in 1987, was to serve as a full-time mission preacher throughout the Caribbean. His home base was at St. Patrick Church in Frederiksted, St. Croix. While his primary assignment remained in preaching missions and retreats, he was later assigned to residence at Our Lady of Fair Haven Cathedral in Roseau, Dominica, where he also was given responsibility for the radio broadcast of "Voice of the Islands." In 1989, he was chosen to serve as pastor of St. Patrick Church in Grand Bay, Dominica. In addition to his pastoral duties, which extended to mission chapels, he put his energy into repairing the parish church, appealing to friends in the Virgin Islands to help with the project. While work on the church progressed, he himself was living in a rectory with no screens on the windows, according to a longtime friend, Father Frank Skelly. The lack of screens was more than a nuisance because the mosquitos which are plentiful in the region carry dengue, also known as "bone-wrack," fever.

Father Moody went on to serve as director of Holy Redeemer Retreat House in Eggleston, Dominica, which not only served the needs of Dominicans but also of other groups of Catholics from around the Caribbean. He also developed and headed the Family Life Center for the Diocese of Roseau. He searched out materials on any subject that affected family life in Dominica. His sister Freddie Mae Moody Poole and her husband, Eugene Poole, who work in the marriage preparation ministry for the Archdiocese of Washington, provided material for preparing couples for marriage; a friend from St. Thomas, Dr. Alice Hamilton, founder of the Women’s Resource Center, presented a workshop on domestic violence. Much of his work there involved counseling and spiritual direction.

Throughout his ministry in the Caribbean, he dreamed of and worked for the establishment of a Caribbean Region of the Baltimore Province. The establishment of the Region, including Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Croix, was approved in 1999 and Father Moody was elected and reelected Regional Superior. Father Rodney Olive, a St. Thomian who served with him for two terms as Regional Vicar, said: "We shared the dream together and, when the time was ripe, we fought for it." Father Moody, he said, "was the most creative idea person I’ve ever known." He spoke of his confrere’s "passion and commitment" to the ministry. "He was a very caring person and he lived on the cutting edge of life," he said.

Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau said that, during his tenure, Father Moody’s "main focus was on the Secretariat of Family Life, but he also served with the Office for Developing and Implementing the Diocesan Pastoral Plan." The bishop added that the Redemptorist was very supportive of his plans for the diocese and he appreciated the fact that "he was always ready to share new ideas with me."

Boston’s Archbishop Sean O’Malley, formerly Bishop of St. Thomas, spoke of Father Moody’s dedication to the Redemptorist charism of preaching. "I feel the loss of the Redemptorist family and all the people of St. Thomas and Dominica and the many places where his ministry meant so much," he said. "He was a very gifted priest who generously shared his talents, bringing joy and grace into the lives of so many."

It was during his years as Regional Superior that problems with severe heart disease, compounded by diabetes, took a heavy toll. Father Kevin Moley, former Baltimore Provincial Superior, said: "I was in contact with him at different moments in his crises with health. He had confidence in me and I had confidence in him…. I saw the frailties of his heart and when I would see him, he was always appreciative. He was transparent with me; there were no airs about him." He added that for him, as a Provincial Superior, it was very easy to deal with Father Moody as a Regional Superior. "He was a good man, a good priest. He was respectful, intelligent and he wanted the well-being of everyone, especially in the Region," he said.

One of Father Moody’s major concerns was with promoting Redemptorist vocations in the Region and he pushed for the establishment of the Blessed Peter Donders Residence in St. Croix to serve as a formation house and an academic bridge for candidates to prepare for entry to St. John’s University in New York. Brother Gerard St. Hilaire of Dominica is one of the men whose vocation he nurtured, just as he had much earlier in Baltimore with Father Kenneth Gaddy, who went on to serve with him in the Caribbean. Father Gaddy said Father Moody’s dedication to the welfare of the community was inspiring. "His involvement with different organizations put us in the forefront, with restoration projects, community services. He even did an ecumenical outreach." His characteristic concern for others was a trait he developed early, according to Mrs. Moody-Poole. "He was my protector; I could talk to him about anything," she said. She recalled how, when he was in the eighth grade, he got a part-time job — which he kept during the summers of his seminary years — to help out the family. "He bought my sister and me our first dolls," she recalled. "He was my big brother and I respected his opinion. He looked out for us; made sure we did our homework; helped cook." When it was time for her to pursue her studies in microbiology, he was the one who supported her in her desire to attend the Catholic University of Puerto Rico which offered the courses she wanted, she added.

"He had great sensitivity of soul," Father Skelly said. "He was a dreamer; he enjoyed poetry and music when we were in the seminary," he added. "He was a great preacher and he gave a mission at our place in the Bronx in the 1990s. He had a way of capturing people and engaging people with their faith." Throughout his life, Father Moody kept in touch with friends, from childhood, from seminary, from his ministry. As such a friend himself, Father Skelly said: "He was a very loyal person"

Father Moody is survived by his mother, Mrs. Parris; his sisters, Mrs. Moody-Poole and Mrs. Lynda Brown; two brothers-in-law, Eugene Poole and Alvin Brown; a nephew, Alvin M. Brown; five nieces, Michelle Nielsen, Natasha and Anissa Moody, Kishma and Raquesha Brown; and several grandnieces and -nephews. He is predeceased by his father, Freddy Lee Moody, and his brother, Leonard Moody.

Thursday

Redemptorist Father William Heanue who, from his early assignments through his last, preached the novena of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, died Jan. 19 at St. John Neumann Residence in Saratoga Springs, NY. In ill health for some years now, Father Heanue was 86.

The Funeral Mass was offered Monday, Jan. 23, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Mission Church) in Boston, his home town. Burial was at Calvary Cemetery in Boston.

The son of Irish immigrants, William and Ann Conroy Heanue, he was born on Aug. 24, 1919, and was educated at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, where his devotion to the Blessed Mother began. After one year at Mission High, he entered the Redemptorist formation program at St. Mary’s Seminary, North East, PA. He made his first profession of vows in 1942 and his final profession in 1945. He was ordained to the priesthood at Mount St. Alphonsus in Esopus, NY, on June 22, 1947.

A classmate, Father Raymond McCarthy, recalled that his friend was "a serious fellow, a good athlete, very good in English, and a poet." Father Heanue went on to write articles for Liguorian and other religious magazines. "Everyone loved his sermons because they were very deep, very spiritual," Father McCarthy added. "When he was visiting the sick, his sincerity and well-chosen words were a comfort."

Father Heanue’s first assignment was as a teacher at North East. From 1950 to 1961, he served at Immaculate Conception Church in the Bronx. Father Frank Skelly, who grew up in the parish, remembered his elder confrere as "an incredible preacher with a down-to-earth style." Father Heanue preached the novenas there — eight times each Friday, one of them broadcast on radio. Father Frank Sullivan, who was homilist at the funeral and also grew up in the Bronx, spoke of a local Jewish businessman who closed his shop at three o’clock on Fridays and invited the workers to listen to the radio broadcast. Father Sullivan said that the businessman explained: "He’s the only priest I can understand; he talks to the people."

Assigned to St. Gerard Church in Lima, OH, from 1961 to 1968, Father Heanue again was responsible for preaching the novena. The challenge of composing sermons that maintained interest and promoted enthusiasm for the weekly novena was a gift for which he thanked God, he later wrote.

After a year at Notre Dame Retreat House in Canandaigua, NY, (1968-69), Father Heanue spent a short time at St. Boniface Church in Philadelphia and then was named to San Alfonso Retreat House in West End, NJ, further developing his gift for directing retreatants. He served there for 11 years, six of them as rector of the community. He did further retreat work at Holy Family Retreat House in Hampton, VA, (1981 and 1983-86) and helped with parish work in Waynesville, NC, for one year.

Returning to the Baltimore Province, Father Heanue served at St. Clement Church in Saratoga Springs for two years and then went back to St. Gerard Church in Lima (1988-91). As a senior priest, Father Heanue was assigned to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Rectory in Manhattan in 1991. Father McCarthy, who is in residence there, said that "in the morning, you could find him in the garden working with flowers, and again for an hour in the afternoon." He continued to preach about Our Lady of Perpetual Help and directed the Legion of Mary. Despite repeated bouts of illness, he was always eager to get back to work, Father McCarthy said. "He was a very good priest, serious, dedicated. The people loved to talk with him," he added.

In the 1990s, after suffering a stroke, Father Heanue moved to St. John Neumann Residence. Until he became bedridden about a year and a half ago, he continued to preach the novena next door at St. Clement Church. Father Arthur Gildea, former rector of St. John Neumann’s, said: "When it came to talking about Mary, Bill Heanue was always ready." His response to prolonged illness was "patient suffering" which edified the community, he said.

Helen Ford, a parishioner at St. Clement Church, noted that Father Heanue’s preaching of the Wednesday night novena drew about 250 people. "Our Lady of Perpetual Help was his love and we were very fortunate to have him. He was well-loved, believe me," she said.

Father Sullivan, who serves at St. Clement’s and welcomed Father Heanue’s contributions to the parish, said that in addition to his great love for Mary, "he had an extraordinary understanding of and love for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist." When he preached, Father Sullivan added, "I always had the impression he was talking to me, even if there was a big crowd."

Even with Father Heanue’s great gift for using the language, Father Sullivan concluded, "the best homily he ever preached was the life he led."

 

Rev. William Heanue C.Ss.R.

  • Born: August 24, 1919
  • Professed: January 1, 1942
  • Ordained: June 22, 1947
  • Died: January 19, 2006

 

Services

Sunday

When Redemptorist Father Bernard Baumgartner became too ill to perform his priestly ministry, he prayed to the Lord and to Our Lady of Perpetual Help to take him home. He died at Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, MD, on the feast of Mary, Mother of God, Jan. 1, 2006. He was 88 years old.

A native of Philadelphia, Father Baumgartner was the son of the late Bernard and Frances Reischmann Baumgartner. He grew up in St. Boniface Parish, where he attended elementary school. With the blessing of his parents and hardly to their surprise – as he had been "celebrating Mass" at home from the time he was a small child – he went off to study in the Redemptorist formation system when he was 14. After finishing at the junior seminary in North East, PA, he spent his novitiate year in Ilchester, MD, and made his first profession of vows in 1939. He continued his studies at Mount St. Alphonsus in Esopus, NY, and made his final profession in 1942. He was ordained to the priesthood June 18, 1944, and was sent to The Catholic University of America, where he earned his Licentiate in Sacred Theology in 1947.

His first assignment was to teach at the Mount, where he also helped out at local parishes with weekend confessions and Masses. From 1950 -61, Father Baumgartner was assigned to Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Baltimore. According to longtime family friend Margaret Mack, who met him when she was in the parish grammar school there, Father Baumgartner was well loved by the young and the old, who appreciated his work with the CYO and the Holy Family Ladies, among other organizations. "He had beautiful Holy Hours that filled the church and he was a wonderful speaker," she said. "The words just flowed with him."

Miss Mack recalled that when Father Baumgartner would accept a dinner invitation from her parents, he would spend a lot of time talking with her father, a man who was not a Catholic and had had to drop out of school after the fourth grade. The two men became like brothers, talking about everything, she said, and a year before her father’s death, he went to Father Baumgartner and asked to be received into the Church.

The priest’s gift for welcoming people into the Church continued throughout his life and he was still working with the RCIA program at St. Mary’s until his health gave out. His niece, Dolores (Dee) Hunsberger, suggested that her uncle’s success with converts was due to the fact that while he was a very knowledgeable man, he never spoke down to anyone. Father John Tizio, who served at St. Mary’s through the 1990s and until his recent appointment as rector of St. Martin of Tours in Bethpage, NY, suggested another contributing factor: "As soon as you met him, he made you feel like you’d always known each other."

Father Baumgartner’s reputation as a wonderful confessor began at his first parochial assignment. Father Gerard Knapp, who attended Sacred Heart School, remembered that all the youngsters wanted to go to Father Baumgartner because of his gentleness and compassion. That gift, too, continued throughout his priestly ministry. Father Denis Sweeney, who was rector at St. Mary’s for six years, said that when the parish priests were hearing the confessions of the grammar school and high school students, the other priests would be finished long before the line for Father Baumgartner came to an end.

From 1961-67, Father Baumgartner was rector of St. Peter the Apostle Church in Philadelphia and it was due to his efforts that the present rectory there was constructed. It was an exciting time for Redemptorists in Philadelphia because of the beatification of St. John Neumann, a Redemptorist and the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia. Father Baumgartner was very involved in the exhumation of the saint’s body, which was found to be well preserved, and for the enshrinement of the body and the establishment of the St. John Neumann Shrine in the lower level of St. Peter’s. He also was responsible for transporting relics of St. John Neumann to Rome. To accomplish this, his niece said, he appealed to his sister Loretta Hunsberger for a wooden box that could be locked, and his sister, no questions asked, turned over her silverware chest for his use.

From 1967-69, Father Baumgartner was assigned to his home parish of St. Boniface and Father Michael Hopkins, who was there for a year with him, recalled that "he was fantastic with the kids; he had a real rapport with young people." He was impressed, too, that despite several health setbacks, his confrere was always eager to get back to work.

By this time, Father Baumgartner had earned a reputation as an excellent keeper of parish books, especially the Mass books. When Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Mission Church) in Boston was in need of such help, he was sent there on temporary assignment to bring things up to date.

In 1970-87 he served at Lour Lady of Fatima Church in Baltimore, where he was in charge of a large CCD program. According to Father Lawrence Lover, who was his rector there for six years, Father Baumgartner recruited an excellent faculty from among the parishioners. "He was an excellent parish priest with a fine personality," he said. "He was always very popular among all the people at Our Lady of Fatima and even after he left, a lot of them stayed in contact with him." Father Lover noted that Father Baumgartner continued to suffer from various health problems, "but in spite of this, he did a lot of work." Again, he kept meticulous accounts in the Mass books. He also was a welcome part of community life because "he was a great storyteller and gave a lot of life to the community with his good humor," he added.

Joan Karolkowski is one of the Fatima parishioners who kept in touch. Like Father Knapp and Miss Mack, she first met him when she was a student at Sacred Heart School; by the time Father Baumgartner was at Our Lady of Fatima, Mrs. Karolkowski was too and the priest baptized her middle son. "He was here for us when my husband was so sick," she recalled. "He was a good man." Like other parishioners, she continued to keep in contact and visited him in Annapolis and at the Mack home on the Eastern Shore.

His next assignment, at the age of 70, was to Annapolis. There, in addition to his work with the RCIA and his long hours hearing confessions, Father Tizio said he counted the collections, kept the Mass books and was active with the Knights of Columbus. Although by this time Father Baumgartner had one kidney and that started to fail, "he never wanted to be a burden," Father Tizio said. "He was very outgoing and always had something to talk about. He also had a phenomenal memory for details."

Father Sweeney said that his elder confrere was so conscientious about his vow of obedience that he never left the rectory without his rector’s permission. Miss Mack added that when she would extend an invitation to Father Baumgartner to visit at her cottage on the Eastern Shore, "Father B. would ask me to come along to Father Sweeney so I could hear what he said too." Father Sweeney explained that even when Father Baumgartner was in his 80’s, he would have to be very clear on instructing him to get some rest at the shore and not to come rushing back to count the collection!

Thanks to the hospitality of Miss Mack to members of the Baumgartner family — who consider her as one of them – the priest and his younger sister, School Sister of Notre Dame Mary Dolores Baumgartner, got together frequently. This Christmas was no exception and Sister Mary Dolores said that after dinner, she and her brother "sat and had a wonderful visit." The two had been very close since childhood, when they went to daily Mass with their mother, and that connection, strengthened by their lives as Religious, never diminished. "He was such a good priest," she said, "and his main grief at Christmas was that he couldn’t do any of his priestly duties. He asked Our Lady of Perpetual Help, who’s always been his right arm, to please come for him and bring him home."

A few days before Christmas, he gave his last blessing when a friend of Miss Mack brought over her twin 5-month-old granddaughters. The babies rested contentedly, one in each of his arms, while he prayed over them. "That made him very happy," she said.

In addition to Sister Mary Dolores, his niece Dolores, and their friend Miss Mack, Father Baumgartner is survived by another niece, Barbara Smalla; three nephews, Milton, Bernard and Gerard McGuckin; and nine great-nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his parents and two older sisters, Loretta Hunsberger and Catherine McGuckin.

The funeral Mass was celebrated Friday, January 6 at St. Mary’s Church, Annapolis, where he had served since 1987. Burial in the churchyard followed the Mass.