Obituaries

Fr. Gerald Hammel, 79, died July 10, 2021. Fr. Gerry was a beloved pastor, missionary chaplain, spiritual director, campus minister, retreat master and cook. Beginning his life of service in the kitchen at several Marianist houses of formation, he would go on to feed the spirit of communities on three different continents – ever praying that Mary would help him “develop a gentle, loving care within me for my brothers, that I may care for them as she cared for our Lord, and as she cares for all of us in our mission.”

Bro. Norbert Karpfinger, 89, died June 23, 2021. Bro. Norbert was a beloved teacher, administrator, and prolific letter-writer – whose fruitful advocacy for the poor and disadvantaged was profiled in The New York Times in 2013. Reflecting on the decades he’d spent as a Marianist in early 2021, Brother Norbert wrote an appreciation of his vocation: “It is difficult to imagine that I am celebrating 70 years of Marianist religious life. I believe that I have been greatly blessed the entire time.”

Fr. Joe Hartzler, 65, died May 27, 2021. Fr. Joe was a beloved teacher, retreat leader, theologian and associate pastor. Remembered for his sense of humor and incisive intellect, he used his scholarly talents to promote and strengthen collaboration between ordained and non-ordained members of the church – working to enhance what he described as “a specific charism of the Society of Mary.”

Fr. Joseph Rasky, 89, died April 26, 2021. Fr. Joe was a beloved teacher, associate pastor, hospital chaplain and Marriage Encounter retreat leader. Remembered for an ever-cheerful demeanor and competitive spirit, he willingly devoted all his talents and energy to a variety of ministries – because even as a novice, he had realized “the more I give myself to Mary, the happier my life becomes.”

Bro. Raymond Bernard Gohring, 88, died April 21, 2021. Bro. Ray was a math and science teacher who ministered in New York, Puerto Rico, and most notably at Matero Boys Secondary School in Lusaka, Zambia, where he taught for 40 years. A quiet, reserved man, he was nonetheless an excellent teacher who was beloved and respected by his students.

Bro. Paulus Lakra, 57, died April 26, 2021, in Rachi, India. Brother Paulus was a beloved brother of all Marianists in India. He is well known as the best community director for the care and love he had for the Brothers. The basic virtues Bro. Paulus possessed as director of the various Marianist communities were: patience, joyfulness, kindness, understanding, listening with care, dedication to the works of the community and faithfulness. The above qualities were always present in Bro. Paulus.

Bro. Ed Shiras, 80, died April 7, 2021. Bro. Edwin was a working brother who dedicated his life to serving in maintenance, construction, and technology roles in Marianist schools and ministries. He found great joy in working with his hands and dedicating his life to God and Mary through service to others.

Bro. Jim Mueller, 86, died March 15, 2021. Bro. Jim was a beloved teacher, chaplain, administrator and community director known for his warm, welcoming ways. He ministered for more than 20 years at schools in Japan and also taught and served as chaplain at schools across the United States.

Bro. Jose Degorio, 82, died February 15, 2021. Bro. José served many years in administrative support positions in California and Hawaii, and also taught high school business courses, a role he greatly enjoyed. He will be remembered as a gentle, humble man with a cheerful heart.

Fr. Raymond Malley, 80, died January 7, 2021. Fr. Ray will be remembered as a dedicated Marianist and a quiet, gentle priest whose humble leadership brought out the best among those he shepherded.

2020


Bro. Don Geiger, 87, died December 29, 2020. Bro. Don was a noted scientist, an environmentalist and a teacher for more than five decades. He founded the Marianist Environmental Education Center and was instrumental in the creation of other conservation organizations and programs. He believed profoundly in valuing and preserving God’s creation, and he inspired others to join in this work.

Bro. Jim Facette, 86, died December 17, 2020. Bro. Jim was a beloved teacher, missionary, administrator, and passionate advocate of environmental stewardship. Devoted to his vocation as a Marianist, he expressed gratitude for the profound gift he’d been given in community: “the pursuit of justice, peace, and earth conservation within the Gospel spirit of our charism.”

Bro. Bob Wiethorn, 79, died December 10, 2020. Bro. Bob was a big-hearted servant who ministered in a variety of roles. He combined the traits of scientist and nurturer as a teacher and school administrator, vocation director, and administrator of outreach programs for the poor. In his later years, he lovingly cared for fellow Marianists approaching the ends of their lives.

Bro. Edward Unferdorfer, 95, died December 7, 2020. Bro. Edward was a working brother who could recall the days of Marianists in black fedoras and frock coats. He was a dedicated religious, deeply committed to a simple ora et labora (pray and work) lifestyle.

Bro. Victor Forlani, 77, died December 2, 2020. Bro. Victor, known for his ready smile and hearty laugh, served in a number of roles in the Society of Mary. He was a teacher, school administrator, and president of the Bergamo Center in Dayton, Ohio.

Bro. Wilbert Hamm, 97, died October 20, 2020. Bro. Wilbert lived a fully Marianist life. He entered as a postulate at age 14 and served actively for six decades, mostly at Purcell High School and its successor school, Purcell Marian, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He will be remembered for his steadfast dedication to his vocation and to his students. He was a firm teacher with high expectations but also a sense of fun and affection.

Bro. Michael Murphy, 81, died October 18, 2020. Bro. Mike had a varied career, serving first in administrative roles in Marianist schools. He then was drawn to social justice work and ministered among the struggling and marginalized in Rockaway Park, New York; in Bangalore and Ranchi, India; and in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Fr. Rudy Vela, 68, died September 29, 2020. Father Rudy was a beloved teacher, faculty member, university administrator, pastor, and advocate of intentional multicultural dialogue. Known for his warmth and good humor, he worked tirelessly to share and invite others to participate in what he called “a magnificent Marianist vocation.”

Fr. John Manahan, 87, died September 16, 2020. Father Manahan was a pastor, a retreat director, a teacher and a loyal friend to many; who enjoyed his great sense of humor, unequivocal homilies, encouragement for participation and keen sense of observation. He welcomed diversity and accepted others on their life journeys without apprehension, prejudice or judgment.

Fr. Jim Kunes, 89, died September 12, 2020. Father Jim was a teacher, chaplain, parish priest and creator of formational workshops who ministered at a variety of locations in the Midwest. He served the Society of Mary and the Church in active ministry for nearly 60 years.

Fr. Norbert Burns, 96, died August 28, 2020. Father Norbert was a legend at the University of Dayton, where he taught for nearly 50 years, never missing a day of class. He taught a wildly popular Christian marriage class to some 27,000 UD students.

Bro. Larry Cada, 82, died August 27, 2020. Brother Larry will be remembered most for his scholarship and passion for Marianist Studies. Yet he held a doctorate in mathematics and a master’s degree in philosophy, and taught both at the university level.

Bro. Hugh Bihl, 89, died July 27, 2020. Brother Hugh was an educator and theologian who had a passion and gift for sharing the Marianist charism. His long ministry included a decade teaching in Nairobi, Kenya, an experience he greatly treasured. His most important legacy may be as a mentor, formator and developer of Marianist Lay Communities.

Bro. Hugh Charlson, 86, died June 25, 2020. Brother Hugh was a teacher who served cheerfully at many high schools across the former St. Louis Province. He will be remembered for his sly humor and his sincere, uncomplicated dedication to his roles as teacher and brother.

Fr. Larry Doersching, 74, died May 27, 2020. Father Larry was a servant leader who was deeply devoted to Marianist education. Over the course of more than five decades of ministry, he served as a teacher, high school president, and university lecturer and campus minister. He was also a reliable and effective member of countless committees and commissions within the Society of Mary.

Bro. Raymond Kane, 81, died May 27, 2020. Brother Ray was a high school teacher and guidance counselor who ministered in the eastern United States from his native New York to Florida, with many stops in between. Although he struggled with anxiety for much of his life, he is remembered as well for his thoughtfulness, caring and humility.

Fr. David Fleming, 80, died March 12, 2020. Father David was a revered leader in the Society of Mary; he served as the 13th Marianist Superior General and as Provincial of the former St. Louis Province. He also was a leading force in the foundation and early growth of the Marianist District of India.

Fr. Bernard Lee, 87, died Jan. 26, 2020. Fr. Bernie was a teacher, a writer and a scholar. He had a passion for philosophy, theology, religious life and Marianist life. He was a high school teacher, professor, and served on the staffs of several universities. he was a major contributor to the development of practical theology as both a thealogical and pedagogical method in graduate ministry education.

2019


Fr. Kenneth J. Sommer, 91, died Dec. 17, 2019. Fr. Ken was a teacher, a chaplain, a powerful preacher and a trusted spiritual guide. He dedicated his life as a Marianist in consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary and felt it was a gift of God’s grace that he was called to be a spokesman for Jesus’ love for his Mother in the Church.

Bro. Thomas E. Deasy, 83, died Dec. 18, 2019. Bro. Thomas was a teacher, a librarian, and an archivist. He developed a deep appreciation of film and filmmaking which he taught. He embraced his vocation to live in community and to embody the spirits of Jesus and Mary in his life and the lives of others.

Bro. Ralph Neumann, 84, died November 6, 2019. Bro. Ralph was a teacher, deeply dedicated to instilling the Marianist Charism in the hearts and minds of those he served. He was a brother of hope and joy. He served in Latin America for nearly three decades and then continued his mission in the United States tutoring English and Spanish.

Bro. John Samaha, 88, died September 27, 2019. Bro. John lovingly offered his life in service to Mary, always saying “yes.” He was a teacher, author, administrator and formator. He was a prolific writer, specializing in public relations and communications. He was also a Marianist pioneer, helping to found a Marianist school in Lebanon.

Bro. Walter Ebbesmeyer, 95, died September 26, 2019. Bro. Wally was a teacher and a social justice advocate who spent nearly 30 years serving the poor in East St. Louis, Illinois. He will be remembered for his gentle manner and cheerful, selfless service.

Bro. William Farrell, 74, died September 12, 2019. Bro. Bill was a Marianist educator and an advocate of the poor. He campaigned for social justice, worked to show the imprisoned that they are worthy of God’s love and spent the last decades of his life reaching out to the impoverished people of Guatemala.

Bro. David Schmitz, 89, died September 15, 2019.  Bro. Dave was a working brother. He strived to accept each assignment prayerfully and cheerfully. He served as a cook, a business manager and a computer lab manager. He also built many buildings and a chapel in the Marianist missions in Eastern Africa.

Fr. Paul Reich, 90, died April 4, 2019. Fr. Paul was a teacher and chaplain in several Marianist high schools. He was an associate pastor for nearly three decades where he fortified the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church through his parish ministry and dedication to adult religious education.

Bro. Robert Hoppe, 78, died April 11, 2019.  Bro. Bob served in administration for many Marianist ministries. His business mind was a true gift.   His practicality combined with his deep Marianist spirituality made him an excellent homilist and daily example of Marianist Charism.

Bro. Richard Martens, 87, died March 24, 2019. Bro. Richard was a teacher, a liturgist, a musician, an organist, and chorus director. He dedicated his love of music to singing the praises of God and Mary to generations through his musical ministries in schools, parishes, chorus groups, bands, military bases and communities.

Bro. LeRoy Viera, 92, died January 20, 2019.  Bro. LeRoy was a veteran, a skilled carpenter and an artist who dedicated his life as a working brother serving in maintenance and construction positions in Marianist schools and ministries. He found great joy in everything he did in dedicated service to Mary.

Fr. Richard Wosman, 59, died January 21, 2019.  Fr. Richard was many things—a teacher, a scholar and an administrator. Through his many years devoted to Catholic Education, he sought to instill the presence of God in the hearts and minds of all he served.

Fr. John Bakle, 82, died March 12, 2019. Fr. John was a veteran, military chaplain, teacher, guidance counselor, pastor and administrator in Marianist high schools, youth programs and retreat centers.

Bro. William Chewning, 94, died January 7, 2019.  Bro. Bill was a teacher, high school administrator and professor whose great love for science was only eclipsed by his much greater love of faith and prayer. 

Bro. Edward Zamierowski, 85, died January 7, 2019.  Bro. Ed was a high school teacher, professor, mentor and environmental advocate. Serving in both the United States and Africa, he inspired others with his vocation as a Marianist and his commitment to service and social justice. 

Bro. Bernard Stratman, 71, died January 10, 2019.  Bro. Bernie held many national leadership roles in the Catholic Church in the US. He dedicated his knowledge in communications to help guide and shape the future of the Church in the U.S. and nourished it with the Marianist Charism.

2018


Bro. Bernard Zalewski, 81, died November 10, 2018.  Bro. Bernard “Ben” Zalewski was a teacher, professor and software consultant who served at the University of Dayton in Ohio and several Marianist high schools throughout the United States and in Africa.

Fr. William Behringer, 86, died November 20, 2018.  Fr. Bill was a teacher, chaplain, pastor, administrator, missionary, author and Marianist formator. In his more than 69 years of dedicated religious profession, he served as provincial, master of scholastics and director of novices.

Bro. Joseph Barrett, 93, died August 7, 2018.  Bro. Joe was a beloved teacher, guidance counselor, vocation director and mentor  serving in Marianist schools, colleges, and communities.

Fr. Joseph Stefanelli, 96, died August 17, 2018.  Fr. Joe was a was a Marianist historian, author, teacher, mentor, translator, novice director, pastor, and Provincial for the former Marianist Pacific Province.

Fr. Donald Cowie, 89, died November 8, 2018.  Fr. Don was a beloved teacher, chaplain and novice master serving in many Marianist schools communities and ministries.

Fr.  Edward Jach, 86, died June 7, 2018 . Fr. Ed was a teacher, school chaplain, pastor and dedicated many years to Marianist formation.

Bro. John Rohe, 87, died June 13, 2018 . Bro. John was a gifted teacher.  He inspired countless students with his love of science and his love of Mary.

Fr. Richard Kuhn, 90, died July 5, 2018 . Fr. Richard was a beloved teacher and chaplain who inspired many with his devotion to Mary and apostolic focus on family through his retreat ministry.

Bro. Eugene Frank, 86, died April 22, 2018.  Bro. Gene was a gifted musician, scholar, and spiritual seeker.  He was a beloved teacher, administrator, archivist and IT specialist in both the United States and Korea.

Bro. James Droste,   83, died April 14, 2018.  Bro. Jim was a teacher, pastor, and grounds keeper who inspired many with his prayerful devotion to our Blessed Mother.

Fr. Francis Nakagawa, 90, died Feb. 24, 2018. Fr. Francis was a teacher and pastor who was much loved by the Japanese Catholic community in Hawaii.

Bro. Gerald Hyland, 95, died Feb. 11, 2018. Bro. Gerry was a teacher and an artist. He entered the Society of Mary after serving in World War II.

Fr. Richard Loehrlein, 87, died Jan. 21, 2018. Fr. Richard was as missionary, teacher and chaplain. He served in Eastern Africa nearly 30 years.

Bro. Donald Schaaf, 81, died Jan. 3, 2018. Bro. Don was a teacher and business manager who also ministered in the juvenile justice system.

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