Brother Tim Hemm, C.PP.S. 1947 - 2022

 

Brother Timothy Hemm, C.PP.S., died at 10:20 p.m. on Monday, February 21, 2022, in the infirmary at St. Charles Center, Carthagena, Ohio, after a lengthy illness. He was 74.

Brother Tim was born on August 31, 1947, to the late William G. and Cecilia (Recker) Hemm. He entered the Missionaries of the Precious Blood in 1961 and was professed a brother on August 15, 1968. He was active in education ministry for many years.

After his profession, Brother Tim was assigned to Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., which is sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. He taught at St. Joseph School in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from 1971–72 then returned to Saint Joseph’s College, where he was a part of campus life for decades.

Brother Tim performed many functions at the college. At first, he oversaw the college’s motor pool and volunteered at St. Augustine Parish in Rensselaer. Later, he was the director of campus ministry at the college, organizing liturgies, Kairos retreats and innumerable other events to encourage students in their spiritual growth and help them find a home on campus. He also served many years as the Missionaries’ local director at the college.

Called “BT” by SJC students, Brother Tim was a constant presence on campus, remaining even after the college’s operations were suspended in 2017 to help in whatever way he could with the maintenance of the place that he loved so much. That love extended to the woods and fields surrounding the college; Brother Tim was known as an excellent hunter and fisherman.

Poor health led him to move to St. Charles Center in 2020, and there he was reunited with many friends and brothers in community. They helped him in his last years, as he had helped so many in his life.

He is survived by two brothers, Thomas Hemm, C.PP.S., who was by his side in his final months at St. Charles; and Will (Cindy) of Crescent City, Calif.; and several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his brother, Joseph, and sister-in-law, Anne.

Brother Tim had a missionary heart. During his long ministry in Rensselaer, Brother Tim lived at the crossroads of so many lives that he became a landmark. He was a cultural touchstone known to nearly everyone who passed through Rensselaer, St. Augustine’s Parish or Saint Joseph’s College for nearly 50 years.

Brother Tim committed his life to supporting young people in their faith, especially as they transitioned from youth to young adult. It was his genuine nature that helped him accompany young people for so many years, staying young at heart himself through aging and infirmity. He approached his ministry with a humble heart, often serving behind the scenes. In doing so, he inspired young people to ask real questions of themselves and their faith and seek out the God moments in their lives.

Fr. Ralph Verdi, C.PP.S., Beloved Music ProfessoR

 

Fr. Verdi was born on September 21, 1944, in New York to Ralph C. and Inez (Gregorio) Verdi. He entered the Society in 1962 at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., and was ordained on June 19, 1971 at St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio.

 

After his ordination, Fr. Verdi returned to Saint Joseph’s College as part of its music department. He later attended Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. for graduate studies in music. He then continued in music and education ministry at Saint Joseph’s.

 

In 2005, he was appointed parochial vicar at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Cleveland. In 2010, he served as sacramental minister at St. Rita and Precious Blood Parishes in Dayton, later becoming part-time chaplain for the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Dayton.

 

Fr. Verdi retired to St. Charles Center in 2015. With his health declining, he launched his search for a kidney transplant, which took place in late 2017. He faced numerous and dire medical obstacles during his recovery, but eventually made his way back to St. Charles Center, where he spent his last years.

 

Fr. Verdi wove music into his ministry as a priest. He was an accomplished musician and composer. He composed several hymns to the Precious Blood as well as a Votive Mass for St. Gaspar del Bufalo and the Precious Blood Founders Hymn Collection. He had a number of compositions published by GIA Publications of Chicago, including what is probably his most popular, “Come, Let Us Adore.”

 

His later years plagued with health issues, his strength fading, Fr. Verdi maintained a sense of mission, believing that God was calling him to something more. His own suffering made him even more attuned to the suffering of others. He once said, “All those people who were sick in the Gospels and came to Jesus—it’s easy for me now to say the same thing they said, ‘Lord help me.’ It teaches you empathy; it expands your ability to love. Suffering is a way of getting to the real truth of things: that we’re all fragile, that we all need each other. Bishop Sheen used to say, ‘So much suffering is wasted because it is not offered up to God,’ as a way of expressing one’s love for others. I try not to waste my suffering. I offer it up for myself and for anyone who needs it.”

Elizabeth R. Mills: A Life of Love and Service

 

Elizabeth (Ridley) Mills, former SJC first lady, passed away from natural causes June 15, 2021 at Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, NH. She was born April 1, 1943 in Corbridge, Northumberland, Durham County, England.  After World War II she and her mother Dorothy and sisters Margaret and Dorothy joined her father in India.  Her father William B. Ridley, an officer in the RAF, was helping with the transfer of power from the Empire of India to the Republic of India.  When old enough she was sent to a convent boarding school near where her grandfather lived in Jersey, Channel Islands.

 

In 1953, Liz and her family immigrated to the United States and settled in Fairfield, Connecticut. She met her future husband Ernest R. Mills III while attending Notre Dame High School.  She and Ernie were married September 4, 1965. Her formal education includes an Associate degree from Colby-Sawyer College, a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from Tufts University and a Master’s in Special Education from Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh New York. Her career was in elementary and special education in Canaan, New Hampshire, Newburgh, New York and Minisink, New York.  She retired in 2001 to become a “First Lady” when her husband Ernie became President of St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana.

 

Liz led a life of love and service. In addition to serving on non-profit Boards of Directors focused on directly helping people.  She had a long history of personal assistance to individuals in need.  In Newburgh she was a volunteer for Literacy Volunteers of America helping a family from Mexico adjust to American life. She participated in the Big Sisters program for years working with a young girl in Newburgh. She worked with Catholic Charities to help people get green cards.  In Rensselaer, through St. Augustine’s Parish, she met and befriended an elderly lady, living alone, and visited her weekly taking her shopping and to appointments.  While living in Grantham, New Hampshire, through Social Services she met an elderly woman in a nursing home who had no visitors. Over the years, until her friend’s passing, she visited her weekly, bringing little things she needed like toothpaste, socks and, of course, one cream filled Dunkin Donut! 

 

In 2019, Liz and Ernie moved to Hillside Village in Keene, New Hampshire. She continued her service knitting hats for the homeless, triangular prayer shawls for elderly in wheelchairs, and blankets for sick babies as part of the Project Linus Program. On occasion, she heard back from parents that they buried their babies in her blankets. At the beginning of the COVID pandemic she made face masks when there was a shortage.

 

Liz (Libby to many in her family) is survived by her husband Ernie, sons Richard and daughter-in-law Sara of North Curl Curl, NSW, Australia and Benjamin of Newburgh, New York, sister Dorothy Bacon and brother-in-law Ken of Jaffrey, New Hampshire and brother-in-law Frank Mills of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  Grandchildren Lindsey, Adam, Emily and Daniel.  Nieces and nephews Jaclyn Headings of Keene, New Hampshire, Jean and her husband Dave Biggs of Portland, Oregon, Francis and his wife Sarah Bacon of Hyde Park, Massachusetts, Christine Bacon of Gothenburg, Sweden, Frank and his wife Kelly Mills of Tacoma Park, Maryland and Bridget Mills of Milford, Pennsylvania.  Her great nieces and great nephews include, Connor and Sophie Headings, Ridley Biggs, Emma Mills, Ryan and Kyle Bacon, Mia Romero and several cousins in England.  She was predeceased by her sister, Margaret J.R. Senechal.

As a final act of love and service she donated her body to Dartmouth Medical School to help prepare future physicians.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hundred Nights Shelter, PO Box 833 Keene, NH 03431.

A Memorial Mass will be offered for Liz at St. Margaret-Mary Catholic Church, 33 Arch Street, Keene, NH, at 11:00 am July 2, 2021.  The Mass will be live streamed on dignitymemorial.com.  Interment will be at a later date at the Town of Orange New Hampshire cemetery.

Fr. Philip Gilbert, C.PP.S., Beloved Mathematics Professor

Fr. Philip Gilbert, C.PP.S., 90, died at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, October 15, 2020 in the infirmary at St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio. He had been in failing health.

 

Fr. Gilbert was born on February 17, 1930, in Chicago, to Philip and Elizabeth (Buffa) Gilbert. He entered the Missionaries of the Precious Blood in 1949 and was ordained on May 28, 1960.

 

In 1961, Fr. Gilbert was appointed to education ministry at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., which is sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. There he spent nearly five decades in ministry as a math professor at the college. During his career there, he served as chairman of the math department and was also on the college’s faculty athletic committee. He retired from teaching in 2016 and moved to St. Charles in 2017.

Preceded in death by his brother and sister-in-law, Hilary and Carol Gilbert, Fr. Gilbert was the last surviving

member of his immediate family.

 

Fr. Gilbert loved his life as a priest, and he also loved Saint Joseph’s College. In fact, it was love at first sight, he once said. His older brother attended the college as well as some of his friends. When he went to visit, “as soon as I saw it, I fell in love.”

 

His parents, Italian immigrants who changed the family name from Gilberti to Gilbert, wanted both their sons to get a college education. They were in favor when Fr. Gilbert enrolled at the college that was to become his home for most of his adult life.

 

While there, he served with compassion and commitment. “I wasn’t brilliant at mathematics, but I was good at it,” said the priest, always self-deprecating. His students describe him as a man devoted to both of his vocations, the priesthood and education.

 

He was a favorite among the faculty and staff as well, presiding at a daily midday mass in a chapel on

campus for as long as he was able—even when he had to proclaim the Gospel through a large magnifying glass.

 

Fr. Gilbert also helped out at parishes in the Gary Diocese and, for his Community, served several terms as district chair and the local C.PP.S. director at the college. For many years, he was the chaplain of Knights of Columbus Council 1881 in Rensselaer.

 

He also loved baseball, rooting for the White Sox as a boy; later in life he committed the apostasy of switching his allegiance at least in part to the Cubs. He played baseball in high school and was an excellent point guard on the school’s basketball team. “I was a hustler,” he said. “I had a knack of seeing who was open and feeding them the ball.” A teacher could be said to be a point guard too: seeing who is open and feeding them what they need. A priest, too.