Quiet scholar leaves a legacy as a teacher and priest

Father Antoine Németh, 1928-2008

Nemeth,_Fr_Antoine_for_webThe Rev. Antoine Németh SVD, 79, a Divine Word Missionary and a scholar in the Chicago Province, died Aug. 7, 2008, in Granby, Province of Québec, Canada.

For many years, Father Németh gave comfort and pastoral care to German-speaking Catholics in the Province of Québec, including Hungarian emigrants displaced by the 1956 rebellion, said Rev. Marcel Barsalou SVD, longtime district superior of Canada, who described his teacher and friend as a shy man.

Born to István and Maria Németh in Vizvár, Hungary, in 1928, Father Németh became affiliated with the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) at age 12 when he attended school in Budatétény, Hungary.

In 1946, he professed his first vows as an SVD in Köszeg, Hungary, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1953 in St. Augustin, Germany. In 1955, Father Németh began teaching at the Séminaire du Verbe Divin in Granby, Canada. Father Barsalou was a student in Father Németh’s biology class that year.

"He prepared his lectures very well and helped students discover things on their own," Father Barsalou said. "He made students think for themselves."

Father Németh also shared his love for Our Lady of Fatima and soccer, which he played into his 60s. Father Barsalou recalled many occasions on which Father Németh—who served as the school’s chaplain—prayed with students in front of Our Lady’s statue. "He was a very pious priest," Father Barsalou said.

Father Németh held a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and theology from St. Augustin. He earned a master’s degree in French literature in 1971 and in history in 1975—both from the Université de Montréal.

In 1983, he completed his coursework for his doctorate in history at the Université de Montréal, and successfully defended his dissertation, The Church Reformation as Analyzed in Knowledge of Conciliar Statues and Synods, in 1986. His knowledge of Latin greatly contributed to his readings of documents from the archdioceses of Mayence, Cologne and Trier, Father Barsalou said.

Bishop François Lapierre celebrated Father Németh’s funeral Mass on Wednesday, Aug. 13, at Immaculée Conception Church, 437 Denison Street West, Granby, Québec.

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