Missionary raised in war-torn Europe became a teacher of many

Father Gerhard Vogel, 1936-2019


Father Gerhard Vogel SVD, 83, an educator and administrator, died Dec. 18, in Techny, Ill.

“Gerhard always gave of his whole self,” said Gene Ahner, a contemporary who taught at St. Mary Seminary at Techny and has known Father Vogel since 1961. “Wherever the Society of the Divine Word needed him to go, he went.”

Born in Forbach, France, to parents with German surnames, he was raised along the war-torn border with Germany. Gerhard Vogel had a gift for fitting into places with cultures other than his own, Ahner said.

The eldest of Oswald and Ernestine (nee Palm) Vogel’s three children, the young Gerhard Vogel studied at St. Wendel in Germany and St. Gabriel in Austria before professing vows in 1959. As a seminarian, he was assigned to continue his seminary studies at St. Augustine in Bay St. Louis, Miss., where he professed perpetual vows and was ordained to the priesthood in 1965.

For his first assignment, he remained in the United States, teaching Latin and French at St. Augustine seminary. In 1973, he became rector of the seminary, succeeding then-Father Leonard Olivier, who later became an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington.

For almost 30 years, Father Vogel was a teacher, administrator and formator at Divine Word seminaries. He served in Bay St. Louis for 14 years; Divine Word Seminary in Perrysburg, Ohio, for six years; and as a formator in Montreal for nine years.

In 1994, he was assigned to St. Peter Claver parish, a predominantly African-American parish in Asbury Park, N.J., where he served until 2003 when he moved to Bordentown, N.J. for semi-retirement. He moved to Techny in 2011.

Father Vogel held a master’s degree in comparative literature from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. Father Vogel spent most of his adult life in the United States, and on Jan. 3, 2013, he became a citizen.

In addition to his pastoral and academic roles, he served as chairman of the Hancock County (Mississippi) Chapter of the Red Cross.

Father Vogel is survived by his brother Dr. Heinrich Vogel and sister Teresa Schilling.

Father Vogel was laid to rest on Dec. 23, following a funeral Mass in the Divine Word Residence chapel. He is buried at St. Mary Cemetery at Techny.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in the name of Father Vogel can be made for the care of retired and infirmed missionaries and may be sent to The Rector, Divine Word Residence, 1901 Waukegan Road, P.O. Box 6000, Techny, IL 60082-6000.


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