Missionary priest, accomplished administrator dies at Techny

Father Leo Hotze, 1916-2009

Hotze,_Fr_Leo_for_webRev. Leo Hotze, 92, a Divine Word Missionary who served two terms as provincial superior, died Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009, at Techny, Ill.

Born in 1916 in Leopold, Mo., he was the fifth of Bernard and Anne Margaret (Steinnerd) Hotze’s nine children. Of the nine children, five took religious vows. Two siblings entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame, and his brothers Alphonse and Clement served as Divine Word Missionaries in Japan and Ghana, respectively.

Father Leo Hotze became a member of the Society of the Divine Word in 1938 and was ordained in 1943. His assignments included teaching math, speech, music and English at Divine Word seminaries in Epworth, Iowa, and at Techny. At the schools, he nurtured the choirs, bands and orchestras and enjoyed conducting.

In the interim, Father Hotze also found time for his own studies. In 1948, he earned a master’s degree in English from the University of Chicago. A year later, his superiors chose him to establish the Brother Candidate High School and trade programs at Techny, the first program developed specifically for boys, ages 14 to 18, who wished to become religious brothers.

During his career Father Hotze served as vocation director from 1951-1958 and 1967-1971. In the 1960s, the governing body in Rome twice named him to head the Eastern Province. As provincial superior, he oversaw territory that spanned from the Province of Quebec through the Eastern seaboard of the United States and included six seminaries and three mission centers.

"Retirement was not a word in Leo Hotze vocabulary," said Rev. Mark Weber SVD, provincial superior of the Society of the Divine Word’s Chicago Province. "Along with the high-profile appointments that he handled with grace, Father Hotze saw fit to fulfill any need he observed—from spraying the apple orchards when an elderly brother could no longer do it to founding a prayer group for North Shore residents who had been to Medjugorje [a pilgrimage site in Eastern Europe that was visited by many Catholics in the 1980s]."

Beginning in 1972, Father Hotze coordinated appeals for the Divine Word Mission Center. Working with the Propagation of the Faith, he assigned brothers and priests to speak about the missions. Father Hotze also served as chaplain for the Knights of Columbus councils in Glenview and Northbrook and organized a prayer group that met regularly at the Holy Spirit Chapel at Techny Towers.

He is survived by three sisters, Sr. Mary Clarea Hotze, SSND; Sr. Mary Helen Hotze, SSND; and Angela Ann Hotze. In lieu of flowers, 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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