Former students reminisce on life of appreciated missionary, educator and artisan

Father Raymond Weisenberger, 1912-2008

Weisenberger,_Fr_Raymond_for_webThe Rev. Raymond James Weisenberger, 95, a Divine Word Missionary, died on Feb. 17, 2008, at Divine Word Residence in Techny, Ill.

Born in Arcadia, Wis., on June 23, 1912, he entered the seminary at Techny as a high school freshman in September 1926. He went to the seminary at Girard, Penn., for junior college; East Troy, Wis., for novitiate, and then back to Techny for his major seminary studies. He professed religious vows in 1934 and was ordained to the priesthood on Aug. 13, 1938.

Father Weisenberger spent nearly his entire priestly life in seminary administration. He was the rector at Divine Word seminaries in Conesus, N.Y.; Girard; Perrysburg, Ohio; and East Troy. He was provincial superior of the U.S. Eastern Province from 1955 to 1961.

From 1967 to 2007, he was stationed at East Troy, first as rector, then as business manager and finally in retirement. In addition to his administrative duties, he was a music teacher and an accomplished woodworker and artist.

The tables and chairs he made are treasured as are his paintings. Even in his 80s and early 90s he remained active and continued to say Mass and provide pastoral service as needed at several parishes in southeastern Wisconsin.

Many former students fondly remembered Fr. Weisenberger. One former student said, "I always appreciated Father Weisenberger’s outlook on life. He was a good soldier and did everything his superiors asked of him, even if it meant never going to the missions [overseas]. He fulfilled his calling exactly as our dear Lord intended and made quite an impact on hundreds of starry-eyed teenagers."

Another former student wrote, "The death of Father Ray touched me deeply. His death is a big loss for all of us. He was indeed a great artist and a wise, practical, humble, simple person and dedicated priest. There was a great sense of easiness in his personality and because of that he was a very approachable and welcoming person. My condolences to the SVDs and his family members. May he rest in peace and may he enjoy the Divine harmony and beauty which in powerful ways shine through the paintings and furniture he made."

Due to declining health, Father Weisenberger spent the final year of his life at the Divine Word Residence in Techny, Ill. At the time of his death, he had been a professed member of the Society of the Divine Word for more than 73 years. He would have celebrated the 70th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood this summer.

He was preceded in death by his parents Nicholas and Elizabeth (George) Weisenberger and by four brothers and one sister. He is survived by numerous nieces, nephews and their children who admired and appreciated his gracious, caring manner.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Feb. 22 with interment at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Techny. Memorial donations for the care of retired missionaries may be sent to The Rector, Divine Word Residence, 1901 Waukegan Road, P.O. Box 6000, Techny, IL 60082-6000.

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