Missionary priest gave guidance to those in need


Father John “George” Bergin SVD, an educator, counselor and missionary priest for 50 years, died Feb. 8, at Techny, Ill.

His brother, Father James Bergin SVD, delivered the homily at the funeral Mass on Feb. 13. “As I was calling people to tell them about his death, the first part was very difficult as I gave them the news, but very soon I was reminded of how much they loved him,” said the younger Father Bergin, who served as Chicago provincial superior from 1990 to 1996.

"I heard how he touched their lives by his kindness and compassion, his willingness to help no matter how busy he might have been, his ability to listen lovingly, his big heart, his deep faith, his sense of humor…. He was also my guide and mentor in many ways. He played a big part in my vocation."

The mentoring role that came naturally as a big brother also came naturally as a brother in Christ. After his ordination in 1967, Father Bergin was assigned to Divine Word’s seminary in East Troy, Wis., where he served as a teacher and dean of students for six years.

He also taught at St. Clement High School in Somerville, Mass.; worked for the Mission Office at Techny; served as a vocations director and provided vocation counseling, marriage preparation and youth ministry at Miramar Retreat Center in Duxbury, Mass.

Born in 1938 and raised in Beaver Dam, Wis., he was the first of Joseph and Mary (Moriarty) Bergin’s two children.

He entered the Society of the Divine Word Seminary at East Troy in 1952 and continued his seminary studies in Conesus, N.Y., and Techny. In 1958, he professed vows.

Father Bergin earned a bachelor’s degree in English from DePaul University and a master’s degree in Education with a specialization in guidance and counseling from Marquette University.

After decades of teaching and counseling, he returned to Techny in 2013 and remained active, saying Mass and hearing confessions at nearby parishes and convents until a few months ago. He also was the vice rector at the Divine Word Residence, a home to more than 60 priests, brothers and novices.

His viewing and wake took place in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Techny on Feb. 12, followed by his funeral and burial on Feb. 13. He was laid to rest in St. Mary’s Cemetery at Techny.

Father Bergin is survived by his brother, Father James Bergin and many cousins. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations for the care of elderly and infirmed missionaries may be sent to The Rector, Divine Word Residence, 1901 Waukegan Rd., P.O. Box 6000, Techny, IL 60082-6000.

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