Part two: Priests who touched lives

There are two parts to this column: the first part was in the March 22 edition for anyone about to retire. This second part is about some of our retired priests who lived or had a relationship with Holy Spirit Retirement Home and left footprints on our hearts.

Jesuit Father M. John Wymelenberg: Chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home for 16 years. When I was in high school, I would come out here every Sunday to play the organ for Mass and Veramae Greteman would bring her violin. Little did I know I would be chaplain here one day. Father John retired to Jesuit housing in Wisconsin.

Father William Devine: I remember he told me about one of his assignments. It was the pastorate at Schaller St. Joseph Church, and he said the town had the best steakhouse ever. He hoped he could have all the sweets he had been deprived of when the Lord called him home, especially French Silk pie.

Father Vincent Beacom: I had lunch with him every day when he lived in assisted living, and he would tell me about his fishing and gun collection. He loved to tell everyone about the time he and I were eating lunch. I dropped a napkin and he bent over to pick it up. When he straightened up, his dessert was gone. Someone else must’ve taken it.

Msgr. Roger Augustine: I have my ordination certificate in my apartment with his signature as Vicar General, and that means a lot to me. I also remember when he was Apostolic Administrator, how he gave us a sense of security while we were waiting for a new bishop.

Father Eugene Walding: Sometimes his former parishioners would call me up and ask how he was doing. Isn’t that nice? Even though his health was failing, he would still crack people up with short, witty statements.

Father Don Slaven: I admired how social he was as he greeted people and seemed to know their family history and the names of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews in their extended family. He liked to go to the mall; there he could watch the flow of lookers and shoppers and find new people to talk to.

Father Albert Grendler: I remember how he and Father Lawrence McCarty were pastors at two of the biggest parishes in Fort Dodge. I was doing my deacon internship in 1986 and admired how well they led their parishes. Now he is often in chapel for Mass before the chaplain arrives.

Bishop R. Walker Nickless: When he was appointed as bishop of Sioux City, Bishop Nickless said “In addition to the immediate sensation of unworthiness, I consider it a great honor to come to serve the people of the Diocese of Sioux City. I want to be a good pastor, a good father, and a good shepherd and intend to work very closely with the priests of the diocese to do the work of the Lord.”

Father Bob Brown: I really admired his educational accomplishments and experiences in Rome and the North American College. He told me he once shook the hand of Padre Pio and President John F. Kennedy when they came over there. His slight smile was often a hint of an up-coming joke or story that would leave everyone in stitches.

Msgr. Edward C. Lilly: This gentle, quiet priest was the pastor for many years at St. Joseph Parish in Sioux City. He spent his last few years here and he seemed to be quite healthy, even in his 90s. One day I could see he seemed to be getting a cold, so I decided to anoint him. One hour later he died.

Father Alfred E. McCoy: I always wondered how he seemed to know all the priest personnel moves in the diocese – before anyone else.

Father Raymond P. Wieling: I think he and Father Dan Greving spent some time fishing together. I know them to be honest men, who would never exaggerate the size of their catch nor keep the location of a good fishing pond secret. I really admired his holiness; he always had a rosary in his hands.

Father Daniel M. Grieving: He would periodically visit and bring in Subway sandwiches. One time I gave him a gift card to buy us a sandwich, and he returned a while later with the sandwiches, but said he had to pay for them, because the sales clerk said the gift card was empty. Oops.

Father Roger J. Linnan: I remember his father Bill had a picture in his room of he and his son, Father Linnan. I know that Father Roger learned many things from his father, especially the ability to make superb jam, of which I rarely see anymore, hint, hint.

Father Richard A Sitzmann: I think he knows everyone who has ever lived at Holy Spirit. Anyone named “Sitzmann” or “Sitzman” seems to be related to him.

There are so many more who have impacted and touched my life. What will you say about the dedicated priests who served you? Will you say, “You left footprints on our hearts in your brief time here?”

Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese, and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.

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