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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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Yearly Archives: 2007
Friday

Redemptorist Father Thomas Schmidt, a gifted preacher and beloved parish priest, died of liver cancer Friday, Dec. 14, at a hospice in Huntington, Long Island. More than 50 years a Redemptorist, he was 72 years old. When news of Father Schmidt’s death was announced at the weekend Masses at St. Martin of Tours Church in Bethpage, NY, parishioners wept, mourning the loss of their "grandfather figure," said his younger associate there, Father James Szobonya. Father Schmidt had served the people of St. Martin’s for the past 11 years.

The son of the late Francis and Margaret McMahon Schmidt, Father Schmidt was born on January 25, 1935, in Brooklyn, NY, the second of the couple’s three children. Impressed by the Redemptorists at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, he entered St. Mary’s Seminary after completing grammar school. He continued his studies at Mount St. Alphonsus in Esopus, NY, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in 1959 and a Master’s in Religious Education in 1963. He made his first profession of vows in 1957 and his final profession in 1960. He was ordained to the priesthood June 17, 1962.

Father Paul Miller, one of his classmates, recalled their student years: "He was very, very affable and we used to enjoy playing pranks on him because he always reacted very well." Father Miller himself remembers filling his classmate’s room with drone bees – no stingers but an alarming sight – and dropping a few malodorous mementos from the horse stables behind his radiator.

"He was a classy guy, but not hoity-toity and you could tease the life out of him," said another classmate, Father John McGowan. "He was well-liked, became a good rector, always the same good guy – a 300 hitter. I don’t think he had an enemy in the world; he was really loved."

Father Francis O’Rourke joked, "He was not part of my crowd; he was a studious type, really serious about being a preacher.. I think what happened with that class was that they picked the best four guys for mission preaching and the rest they sent out of the country!"

Father Schmidt was among those chosen for the mission band, serving from St. Clement Mission House in Ephrata, PA. In 1973, he began to have greater involvement with the Marriage Encounter Movement and was granted permission to do that full-time for the following year.

In 1975, Father Schmidt was appointed rector at Notre Dame Retreat House in Canandaigua, NY. Father Dennis Foley, another classmate and a longtime friend, recalled that Father Schmidt became involved in the healing ministry through the Charismatic Movement at this time. "Tom was a good healer and a wonderful confessor," he said. It was Father Schmidt who introduced his confrere, Father Dennis Kelleher, to the healing ministry and that became Father Kelleher’s full-time ministry for the rest of his life.

Father Schmidt was named rector of San Alfonso Retreat House in West End, NJ, in 1981 and, after serving two three-year terms there, was appointed rector of St. Joseph Church, Odenton, MD. In 1993, he was named pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Edgewater, MD. It was during this time in Maryland that he and Father Foley, who was stationed at St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis, would get together regularly for dinner and enjoy their vacations together. "He was a wonderful traveling companion, enjoyable company always," Father Foley said. "He was very unassuming, a real gentleman."

It was in 1996 that Father Schmidt was assigned to St. Martin of Tours in Bethpage. Joyce Enderle, parish secretary for many years, said, "He’s been a big part of my personal life and I think everyone here would say the same thing. I remember when my daughter-in-law’s mother was sick with cancer and when she died, he was here for the family. Even after he had open-heart surgery, he baptized my youngest granddaughter." Mrs. Enderle’s daughter heard the news of his death from Father Henry Sattler, celebrant of the parish’s Teen Life Mass, and told her mother, "Everybody just cried." Mrs. Enderle added, "He really touched all age groups."

"People here considered him their family priest, " said Father John Tizio. When he, Father Sattler and Father James Szobonya were assigned there during the present triennium, "Father Tom was the only one from the old regime," the one who knew who was who, where everything was, and how the parish had celebrated special feasts in the past, Father Tizio said. He noted that it was Father Schmidt who, until this year, organized the youngsters and prepared them to present the Christmas Pageant. He also led a Scripture Study group, supervised the altar servers, and made newcomers feel at home when they came to the RCIA program. "He was welcoming to anyone, whether a fellow Redemptorist or any of the parishioners. We were very honored to have him live with us. He had a nice, gentle smile and a twinkle in his eye," Father Tizio added.

Father Szobonya said he was impressed with his older confrere’s fidelity to prayer and his dedication to the sacraments. "He celebrated Mass with great solemnity," he said. "Just recently, he had a 50-year wedding vows renewal, a First Communion and a Baptism. He also did a lot of funerals." Father Schmidt always wanted to do his share of the work and he worked right to the end of his life. "The rectory feels kind of empty without him now," Father Szobonya said.

Feeling Father Schmidt’s loss most keenly is his younger sister, Maryanne Barbero. (An older sister, Florence Donalds, died in 1976.) Mrs. Barbero recalled that when she and her husband Robert were engaged, they waited for her brother’s ordination and First Mass, so he could preside at their nuptials the following week. "Bob became like a brother to him and the three of us became really, really close," she said. Father Schmidt was widely known for his great delight in Christmas and, for the past few years, Mr. Barbero has served as his Santa Claus at parish Christmas parties. "My brother was holy, loving, understanding, and never judgmental – even when I thought he should say something to the kids," Mrs. Barbero said. To her children, Father Schmidt was "Uncs"; he gave them each a nickname – "Pints" for a petite niece, "Dr. Bob" for a serious and caring nephew, and "Fuzzy" for the baby of the family whose first head of hair could not be tamed with a brush.

Mrs. Barbero told of a special story she and her brother enjoyed recalling of how a door-to-door salesman left an image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help with their grandmother, promising to come back in a week if she decided against keeping it. He never returned. "Our grandmother liked the picture, but she wasn’t Catholic and didn’t know about it. Somebody told her about Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, so she went there to find out more," Mrs. Barbero said. "Because of that, she became a Catholic and raised our mother as a Catholic and Tom became a priest!"

 

Rev. Thomas Schmidt C.Ss.R.

  • Born: January 25, 1935
  • Professed: August 2, 1957
  • Ordained: June 17, 1962
  • Died: December 14, 2007

 

Services

Saturday

Ten novices participated in the Ceremony of Investiture – receiving their Redemptorist habits, “putting on Christ” – during Mass at the Redemptorist Retreat Center in Oconomowoc, WI.

Listed left to right (Province affiliation in parens), front row–Alistair Elias (Baltimore Province, Caribbean Region); Jean Tetreault (St Anne-de-Beaupré); Alfredo Delos Santos (Yorkton); Mario Gonzalez (Denver); Bruce Davidson (Denver); Fr. Ray Corriveau, C.Ss.R., Assistant Novice Master (Edmonton-Toronto); back row–Fr. Gary Lauenstein, C.Ss.R., Novice Master (Denver); Ted Dorcey (Denver); Hermann Holtkamp (St Clement, i.e. Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland); Michael McCloskey (Dublin); Jim McCabe (Baltimore); Elton LeTang (Baltimore, Caribbean Region).

For more pictures, download these pdf documents:
Investiture photos – Vol 1 
Investiture photos – Vol 2

Saturday

Mass of celebration at the National Shrine of St. John Neumann, Philadelphia, PA, was held to honor Fr. Anthony Russo, C.Ss.R., and his 40 years of ministry with the deaf community of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Click here for photos.

Monday

The Redemptorists (Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer) welcome four returning and 11 new seminary students on August 27, 2007, with a Mass and a reception at St. Alphonsus Formation Residence, Whitestone, NY. The Residence is the undergraduate philosophy community for men entering Redemptorist religious life. The students will study at St. John’s University, Queens, NY. This celebration formally merges the pre-novitiate programs of two Redemptorist provinces in the United States. The Baltimore Province ministers primarily on the East Coast, and the Denver Province ministers primarily west of Ohio.

Redemptorist Students Greeted at Door
Returning Seminarian Nick Andruzzi greets the new arrivals (left to right) Adam Sieja, Aaron Meszaros, and Landon Tao.

Very Rev. Fr. Patrick F. Woods, Provincial Superior of the Baltimore Province, said, "Over the last ten years, we have seen some great developments in Congregation solidarity." Very Rev. Thomas D. Picton, C.Ss.R., Provincial Superior of the Denver Province, said, "The move will also allow us to demonstrate responsible stewardship by consolidating resources whenever and wherever possible."

The newly merged formation community witnesses to a diversity of geographic locations and cultures. The returning seminarians are: Kevin Bellot, C.Ss.R., Commonwealth of Dominica; Nicholas Andruzzi , Charlotte, NC; Michel Pezantes, Ecuador and Fort Lauderdale, FL; Miguel Valerio, Dominican Republic; Benedict Kelly, C.Ss.R., Chicago, IL; Landon Cao, Arlington, TX; Adam Sieja, Toledo, OH; Thanh Nguyen, Kansas City, MO. The new seminarians are: Douglas Amber, Chicago, IL; Calvin Auguiste, Commonwealth of Dominica; Russell Kelly, Belleville, IL; Luke Manalo, Houston, TX; Jacky Merilan, Haiti; Aaron Meszaros, Grand Rapids, MI; and Son Tran, Houston,TX

Redemptorist Seminarians Arrive
Left to right Front row: Aaron Meszaros, Landon Tao, Adam Sieja Back row: Br. Benedict Kelley, C.Ss.R., Nick Andruzzi, Br. Jeffrey Rolle, C.Ss.R.

Formation staff are: Very Rev. Paul Borowski, C.Ss.R., Director of Formation; Rev. Patrick Keyes, C.Ss.R., Asst. Director of Formation, Bro. Jeffrey Rolle, C.Ss.R., Asst. Director of Formation; Rev. Philip Dabney, C.Ss.R., Vocation Director; and Mr. Edward Reyman, Vocation Director.

In the United States and Canada over 700 Redemptorist priests and brothers spread the Good News of Jesus Christ the Redeemer. The spirit of St. Alphonsus Liguori, the Congregation’s founder, continues to animate more than 5,600 Redemptorists worldwide, as they carry in their hearts the motto of the Congregation: "With Him there is plentiful redemption" (Psalm 130).

Photos by Fr. Philip Dabney, C.Ss.R
Sunday

Redemptorist Father Joseph Adamec, who wore holes in his shoes trekking through housing projects, prisons and hospital corridors, died Sunday, Aug. 19, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Rectory at 61st Street, Manhattan. The New York native had traveled from his Boston assignment at the request of a Czech-speaking organization to celebrate a Mass in their language. He was 81 years old.

Father Adamec was born March 28, 1926, one of four sons of Otto and Mary Tomasek Adamec, and was raised in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Manhattan. He entered the Redemptorists’s St. Mary’s Seminary in North East, PA, after completing grammar school; made his first profession of vows in 1947 and his final profession in 1950. He completed his studies for the priesthood at Mount St. Alphonsus in Esopus, NY, and was ordained on June 22, 1952.

His first assignment was to his home parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, where he served from 1954 to 1961. He then was sent to minister at St. Wenceslaus Church in Baltimore, MD.

In 1967, the year of the ghetto riots in Buffalo, NY, Father Adamec was named rector and pastor at St. Mary Church there and became widely known as "the ghetto priest." Walking through the neighborhoods, greeting everybody, getting to know the people, he learned of the young men sentenced to the Attica Correctional Facility. Carrying messages from their mothers and, always, words about Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Father Adamec often visited the prisoners both before and after the 1971 uprising in which 43 prisoners and guards were killed.

Father Edward (Mickey) Finn, who was stationed with Father Adamec in Buffalo, said that the people of their African-American neighborhood loved "Father Joe" and thought of him as one of their own. Father Adamec’s concern went well beyond the Catholics there. He signed up himself and Father Finn as Red Cross volunteers so that when there was any emergency – such as a fire in the night – they would be called to help. "His work in Buffalo was unforgettable," Father Finn said. "Social workers were afraid to go to the places he went."

In 1975, the then-Episcopal Vicar in Buffalo, Father Frederick Hinton, wrote to the Baltimore Provincial: "The quality and intimacy of ‘Father Joe’s’ service as it touches the lives of the people of God in the neighborhood of St. Mary’s if it were to be withdrawn would leave a great and lonely place against the sky. Can you spare us that anguish yet another time."

On the occasion of their silver jubilee of priesthood, Fathers Adamec and Finn received permission to made a cross-county drive in a borrowed camper. "He was an amateur geologist and we must have stopped at every outcropping of rocks," Father Finn recalled. "We visited the Montana Glazier National Park and he took a two-mile hike across a glazier – because he had never done it before . . . We went to the Petrified Forest and there were ‘Do Not Remove Anything’ signs all over. He said he’d love to take a sample, but he didn’t."

It was in 1978 that Father Adamec was named Novice Master at Oconamawoc, WI. He offered his novices some unusual experiences: In 1979, took a group of 18 to see Pope John Paul II in Chicago. When the Holy Father emerged from the cathedral, the group was there to hoist their banner proclaiming "Redemptorists Welcome Our Beloved Pope" and to break into what Father Adamec described as their "pep rally Alleluia." They sang their choruses all the way down State Street. In 1982, he and Father Walter Karrer took a group of 19 novices to give a mission on Mackinac Island, MI, leading them across a frozen straight by snowmobile. Redemptorists had ministered to the Native Americans in the area in the 1830s.

Baltimore Provincial Father Alfred Bradley, who was among the novices who went to Mackinac Island, said that Father Adamec had great devotion to the North American Martyrs and could – and did – recite every torture each endured. "He taught us to be faithful to the Congregation and zealous in spite of any obstacle," he said. "And like St. Alphonsus, he was always with the poor and the most abandoned." One lesson he stressed over and over to the novices: "Be kind to people."

In 1984, Father Adamec went from the frozen North to the Tropics, to Holy Cross Church in Christiansted, St. Croix. There, he made his own the people of every public housing project on the east end of the island. Nor did he overlook visits to the hospital and the prison. Patricia Larsen, who considered him a mentor and dear friend, said that his was the first Christmas card she received every year and, every year, he would remind her that he needed an updated photo of her four sons – his altar boys. "The first time he met my Mom, who’s a Moravian, was because he visited her house; when he saw a picture of my sons, he asked her what she was doing with it. Mom told him they were her grandsons and he told her they were his altar boys." Father Adamec was the one who guided her through the RCIA program – even when the exhausted mother fell asleep during one of his talks – and continued to work with her so she became comfortable teaching CCD classes.

Giselle DeChabert, who works now in New York, was a new member of the parish youth group when she first got to know Father Adamec. "He hung out with us and just listened – he was never judgmental – and you felt you were speaking with a friend," Miss DeChabert said. "He was always very funny and unpretentious and he took an interest in everything. He was a beautiful priest, a wonderful person."

Father Adamec also was well known to every street person in the area and they knew they had only to ring the rectory bell in the daytime or throw pebbles at his window at night and he would prepare a packet of sandwiches, fruit and a soft drink for each one.

The assignment to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boson came in June of 1988. Father Matthew Allman, who serves there, said, "He thrived on the idea of being a street priest. You should have seen him at the end of the Spanish Mass — he’d run out so as not to miss greeting any of the people. He was incredibly dedicated. One of the parishioners told me, ‘He was much more ours than he was yours.’ He used to tell me he could stand at the top of the stairs to the Stop-and-Shop and see all of the parishioners in one day."

Father Adamec had the unenviable job of following the famed Father Joseph Manton as preacher of the weekly Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Soon, the novena became as associated with him as it had with his predecessor. "Nothing was going to get in the way of his preaching the novena," Father allman said. "Any time he was asked to go somewhere, he’d plan around the novena schedule." He also was faithful to visiting with the parish schoolchildren, especially in teaching religion to the sixth-graders, he added.

Rose Cotrone, the parish secretary, said, "He was unbelievable! Every day, between three and five, he’s be out evangelizing the projects, knocking on every door. He walked to every hospital. There were 30 or 40 people he brought Communion. He was involved with everything in the neighborhood, served on the community board." One thing he did not do was shop for himself. Mrs. Cotrone said his briefcase/portable Mass kit looked a disgrace, held together as it was with duct tape. She bought him a new one and, over his protests that it was much too nice, got him to accept it as a combined Christmas/birthday gift.

It was the old duct-taped version he carried with him, though, on his last trip to New York. When Father Bradley was asked to see that Father Adamec’s personal possessions be returned to his family, he found in his confrere’s pocket a rosary, a well-worn prayerbook, an image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, a slip of paper with the contact numbers for the people who had picked him up for the Mass he celebrated that day, and a cardboard copy of the season schedule of his beloved Red Sox.

Several confreres commented on how appropriate it was that Father Adamec died so peacefully at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Rectory. After all, he had carried her image for more than 50 years of priestly ministry, bringing her into every slum he could find, every prison cell, every sick room. He had entrusted her image to grandmothers seeking Mary’s intercession for their families and to young people seeking their way in life. Father Bradley recalled Father Adamec telling him: "The greatest thing the Redemptorists have ever done is promoting Perpetual Help."

Father Adamec is survived by three brothers: Otto, of Manhattan; Charles, of Minneapolis, MN; and Gerard, of Brentwood, NY, as well as several nephews and nieces.