April 11, 2017 // Local

Heart attack takes life of Queen of Angels deacon

Deacon John Hilger

John Hilger, a permanent deacon of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, died unexpectedly last week. Hilger and his wife, Mary, were traveling in Europe when he experienced a severe heart attack. He went to our Lord Friday, April 7, in Belgium, surrounded by Mary and the couple’s daughters.

Funeral services are pending. “‘You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey’ were the most favorable words sung and expressed by Deacon John at every moment of his life,” said Father Ajay Tiru, pastor of Queen of Angels.

Father Tiru remembered the impact of the life of Deacon Hilger, “I was deeply touched by his child-like faith and the heart of simplicity and generosity, which was always reflected in his outlook and personality. He was a great gift to Queen of Angels Parish and served joyfully and faithfully in exhibiting a great example of stewardship with his time, talents and resources.

“He was gifted with the charisma of healing prayers, witnessed by the people who invited him to pray over sick people at homes or at hospitals. It was not easy for anyone to trace his inner pain and sufferings, which he had been going through all his life because of excruciating pain on his hip and the knees. Most of the time, his love and the passion for Christ and the people pushed him forward, positively, to accept the cross of suffering joyfully,” Father Tiru continued.

“I cannot forget his gesture of humility for inviting me, always before the Mass at the sacristy of Queen of Angel Parish, with his humble words, ‘Let us go for breakfast or for a meal if you have time,’” Father Tiru said. “I used to tell him, ‘Of course, I have time for you: Let us go together.’ The life that he lived and shared with one another was truly inspiring and enriching. So many people knew about him through his generosity and meekness of heart. He was a friend of all ages, and a very talented farmer knowing how to grow and plant seeds at the right time to produce good harvest.

“God always sent his humble servants to a chosen community and the family where the message of God’s love, compassion and humility is to be shared. Deacon John truly accomplished the work and the mission of Christ faithfully and successfully with the simplicity of life. Let me say that his life resonates with the words of St. Mother Theresa, who said, ‘Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.’”

The family has set up a YouCaring crowdfunding account, www.youcaring.com/johnandmaryhilger-793294, for the purpose of transporting Deacon Hilger home to Fort Wayne.

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