May 30, 2024 // Bishop

‘The Heart of a Servant Leader’: Monsignor Schooler Marks Golden Jubilee

Some of his fellow priests call him “Monsignor,” his proper title, just to get a reaction out of him. They know that’s not really his style. Really, everyone from parishioner to priest knows him as “Father Bill.”

On Saturday, May 25, Monsignor William Schooler celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination – his golden jubilee – at his parish, St. Pius X Catholic Church in Granger, at the vigil Mass of the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.

Photos by Kasia Balsbaugh
Monsignor Bill Schooler preaches on the Trinity during his anniversary Mass, held on the vigil of the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity on Saturday, May 25, at St. Pius X Church in Granger.

As Father Schooler said in his homily, remembering his early priesthood, “I’ll never forget, part of my homily I very much said, ‘We priests are ordained to build communities of people, not physical buildings.’” The congregation laughed, as Father Schooler has overseen the construction of more than one church building, including St. Pius X’s school and rectory. But the turnout to Father Schooler’s Mass provided a testament to his ability to foster that spiritual community as well. The large church of St. Pius X was full of family, friends, parishioners, fellow priests, and an assortment of choirs and instrumentalists to beautify the liturgy.

Click here for more photos from this event.

People from St. Pius X Church gave Today’s Catholic various descriptions for Father Bill, including “compassionate,” “welcoming,’ “patient,” “humble,” and “easygoing.”

The parish’s business manager, Maureen Newsom, offered what she saw as a defining characteristic of Father Schooler: “empathy.” “He gives totally of himself to the parishioners, and they know it,” said Newsom, who is the only remaining staff member at St. Pius X Church who remembers Father Bill’s coming to the parish 23 years ago. “I liked him immediately,” she remembered.

Mary Kate Boyle, Assistant Director of Children and Family Formation at St. Pius X Church, has been a parishioner since last August. “I’ve loved working with him,” Boyle said of Father Schooler. She added, “One of the things so apparent from the beginning: He has the heart of a servant leader.”

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades congratulates Monsignor Schooler during Mass on Saturday, May 25, at St. Pius X in Granger.

In Bishop Rhoades’ comments after the jubilee Mass, he honored Father Schooler for the various ministries he grew during his pastorate, as well as his “well-balanced” life (Father Schooler is an avid cyclist).

Additionally, Bishop Rhoades noted that 1974, Father Schooler’s ordination year, was a difficult time for the Catholic Church, with vocations and Mass attendance plummeting. Father Schooler was the only priest in the diocese to be ordained that year. Referencing Pope St. Paul VI’s work in guiding the Church during that time, Bishop Rhoades said, “Father Bill imbued the hope of [Pope Paul VI’s] exhortation in his zeal as a young priest, a zeal that has remained for all these years.”

Bishop Rhoades also mentioned another characteristic of the 1970s: the hair, bringing the congregation’s attention to the photo of a newly ordained Father Schooler on the back of the Mass program. “I had almost the identical hairstyle,” Bishop Rhoades remembered. He then added that the then-bishop of the diocese had made Father Schooler get a haircut before his ordination. “Father Bill, we share so much in common – the Bishop of Harrisburg made me get a haircut when I applied to seminary,” Bishop Rhoades said to laughter in the congregation.

In his homily, Father Schooler reflected on the self-sacrifice he has learned as a priest. He remembered how hard it was to leave every assignment he has had, whether as a chaplain and teacher at Marian High School or as pastor in the parishes he served before St. Pius X. “What’s interesting is that every time I died to what I was doing, I shared new life I never expected,” Father Schooler said.

He added: “I’ve always found every move to be very beautiful. As painful as they were, those moves, dying to the old place, taught me something about the Paschal Mystery.”

Father Augustine Onuoha is Parochial Vicar at St. Pius X, his first priestly assignment. He met Father Schooler three years ago on his ordination day and has worked with him ever since. Father Onuoha remembered that another priest once told him that a man’s first few years as a priest can set the tone for the rest of his priesthood. Father Onuoha thanked Father Bill for being such a good mentor during his first years as a priest.

“I’m really, really privileged to work with him as a young priest, because not all people have that opportunity,” Father Onuoha said, adding that he works well with Father Schooler in part because he said the two have “almost the same personality” in that both are very outgoing.

“He’s joyful, he’s easygoing, he’s a pastor,” Father Onuoha reflected. “He’s a pastor who loves his people, and that is really important.”

Parishioners, family, and friends line up to congratulate Monsignor Schooler on the 50th anniversary of his ordination.

A crowd of parishioners, family, and friends lined up to personally congratulate Father Schooler after Mass. At the reception afterwards, the church hall was covered with well-wishes and banners from the parish school students.

“Dear parishioners, Father Bill has served you with joy and love,” Bishop Rhoades said to the congregation. “I thank you for loving and supporting him as your shepherd these past 23 years.”

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