Other jubilarians include:
Sixty-year jubilee for Father Schmitt
It could be said that young Adam Schmitt’s call to the priesthood was a face-to-face experience, rather than a mystical awareness.
Back in the day, parishes had a full staff of priests: a pastor and two or three assistants. Such was the case at St. Peter Parish in Fort Wayne, where the pastor, Father John Bapst, required that the same server assist him at his daily Masses — except Sundays — all year long. That honorable responsibility fell upon eighth-grade student Adam Schmitt, whose day began with a 6:20 a.m. wake-up call from his mother and then a two-mile bicycle ride to St. Peter.
That same year, teaching the eighth-grade religion class at St. Peter was Father Thomas Durkin. One day, Father Durkin talked about the priesthood and concluded the class by saying, “All boys who want to go to the seminary, go see the pastor after school today.” Schmitt chose to do so, and thereby took the first steps into a lifetime of the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
Although more than 60 years have passed since that dream became a reality, and he is officially listed as “retired” at Saint Anne Communities at Randallia Place in Fort Wayne, it is the wrong label for Father Schmitt, who says weekly Mass and hears confessions for the Franciscan friars and for the cloistered Poor Sisters of St. Clare in Fort Wayne. He also offers Mass one or two days a week in the Saint Anne chapel, for residents, and assists in a regular anointing of the sick there. He also finds time for callers who stop by his apartment.
Looking back over his diocesan assignments, Father Schmitt revealed that he enjoyed each of them; but he has particularly mellow feelings about his first assignment at St. Bernard Parish in Wabash, because there he was reunited with Father Robert Zahn, who had been assistant pastor at St. Peter when Adam was in grade school.
Thursdays are special for Father Adam. That’s the day when he and the other three priest residents of Saint Anne’s, Chaplain Father Jack Overmyer, Father John Pfister and Father Larry Tippmann, concelebrate Mass and then have a foursome lunch. When asked, “What do you talk about?” Father Schmitt, in an artful dodge, replied, “Oh, we talk about the weather.” Another occasion that delights Father Schmitt is a monthly bridge game with other priest buddies, which presents another opportunity to discuss meteorological data.
May 25 was the actual anniversary date of his ordination. It was celebrated in a merry but low-key style at Saint Anne’s, beginning with Mass concelebrated by himself and six visiting priests, including his nephew, Father Tony Steinacker. Father Schmitt’s sisters, Joan May and Mary Steinacker, were also present.
Prayerful solitude enriches Father Schmitt’s mornings. Rosaries, reflections on Fatima, Mass alone and a slow reading of the morning paper, with attention to how the Chicago Cubs did last night, begin each day of “retirement.” It’s all there, like a 60-year fugue, from server to celebrant, baptisms and funerals, life and death; following the rules, following Christ in the bloody dust of Calvary … thou art a priest forever.
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