December 10, 2014 // Local

Father Paul Bueter dies

FORT WANYE — Father Paul R. Bueter, beloved retired priest and past vicar of the Hispanic ministry of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, died Sunday, Dec. 7. He was 81.

A native of Fort Wayne, Father Bueter was born April 21, 1933 to Raymond and Annette Bueter, the third of five children. He received his primary education at St. Jude Parish, in Fort Wayne, and following his 1951 high school graduation from Marmion Military Academy in Illinois, Father Bueter enrolled in Our Lady of the Lake Minor Seminary in Syracuse and later at St. Mary Major Seminary in Baltimore. On May 30, 1959, Paul Bueter was ordained to the Priesthood at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception by then Bishop Leo A. Pursley.

His first assignment was as theology teacher at Saint Joseph High School and associate pastor at St. John the Baptist in South Bend. After six years of devoted service there Father Bueter requested he be sent to Latin America, to provide assistance there as a missionary. In 1965, he arrived in Panama where he spent the next 16 years of his Priesthood first as assistant, then pastor to various rural mission parishes.

Father Bueter was called back to the U.S. in 1981 to pastor the faithful of St. Bavo Parish in Mishawaka. In 1987, he was named vicar of Hispanic Ministry and appointed pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Milford that met in a garage at that time and a year of pastoring at St. John the Evangelist in Goshen.

The Hispanic ministry, dear to his heart, grew under the gentle guidance of Father Bueter, who saw many changes including the building of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and Diocesan Shrine in Warsaw. In an interview with Today’s Catholic Father Bueter noted, “I am blessed to be able to work in Hispanic ministry. I thank the bishop and the Lord for that.”

Father Bueter retired from administrative duty in January of 2009 and moved to Fort Wayne to share a home with his sister, Jeanne McCormack, where he attended St. Jude Parish once again. In his retirement Father Bueter enjoyed working with the preschool students at St. Jude and frequented Saint Anne Home and Retirement Community where he visited with retired priests and concelebrated Mass. He was always available to fill in at other parishes where needed. He also loved the game of golf.

In 2011, Father Bueter was among the 120 youths and adults who made the spiritual pilgrimage to Madrid, Spain, to attend World Youth Day with Pope Benedict the XVI.

And in 2012 Father Bueter was the seventh recipient of Marmion Academy’s Ad Regnum Dei Award in recognition of exceptional public witness and service of Gospel values for the kingdom of God.

Of his Priesthood, Father Bueter told Today’s Catholic recently, “I bring my love for people and love for the Lord to my vocation. I am happy to celebrate Mass and hear Confession. All the priestly stuff I love very much.”

Enid Roman-DeJesus, director of Hispanic Ministry in the diocese, worked alongside Father Bueter and said, “It’s a huge loss. He was a part of the whole thing and was perfect for this ministry. He was so gentle with the people and always prayed for them.” Roman-DeJesus, who met Father Bueter in 1991 when she came to the diocese, feels he was a mentor who allowed her room to grow. “He was patient — an outstanding priest. He’ll be greatly missed. If I knew someone who was holy, he would be it,” she said.

Father Robert D’Souza, parochial vicar of St. Jude Parish, Fort Wayne, and a longtime friend of Father Bueter’s said of his brother in Christ, “I have known Father Paul for the last 18 years as a good friend. He was a very committed priest to his ministry and his prayer life. He was very generous serving in different parishes for Mass, Confession and other sacraments. Father Paul shared with me years ago that he wanted to go to Panama again where he worked as a missionary for 15 years and last October he went there and visited all the parishes where he worked. It was a fulfilling experience for him. He had a sweet tooth and loved ice cream. He was a very sociable man and talked to every child and every person whom he met in the parish and neighborhood. I will miss him as my friend.”

Father Tom Shoemaker, pastor of St. Therese, Little Flower in South Bend, knew his friend of 25 years as “a very humble man, never drawing attention to himself. He was unflappable. He smiled through whatever life brought him.”

Two sisters, Jeanne McCormack and Marguerite Ulliman, and several nieces and nephews, cousins and great nieces and nephews survive Father Paul Bueter. His parents and sisters, Jacqueline Weis and Claire Clemens and four nephews preceded him in death.

Funeral arrangements are as follows: Visitation at St. Jude on Thursday, Dec. 11, from 1:30-5:30 p.m. with rosary service at 4:30 p.m. A funeral Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at St. Jude Parish on Friday, Dec. 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, at 11 a.m., following the 9:30-11 a.m. visitation. Burial will follow immediately in Catholic Cemetery.

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