Missionary, guardian of Waray culture goes to eternal rest

Father Raymond Quetchenbach, 1929-2011

Quetchenbach,_Fr_Ray_for_webFather Raymond Quetchenbach SVD, an education pioneer in the Philippines, died on Saturday, Nov. 19, at the age of 82.

In addition to lending his vision and energy to the modern Filipino education system, Father Quetchenbach also preserved the world’s largest collection of resource materials on the Waray culture and Waray-waray, a Malayo-Polynesian language spoken by approximately three million people in the Eastern Filipino islands.

In 1968, Father Quetchenbach joined the staff of Divine Word University in Tacloban, Philippines, as dean of the graduate school and editor of Leyte Samar Studies, a biannual publication about the non-written cultural and theatrical traditions of the Leynete Samarnon ethnic group in the Luzon province. Seeing a need to safeguard the cultural heritage of the Waray people, he volunteered to curate the Leyte Samar Research Center, the university’s museum.

When he assumed responsibility for the museum, it consisted of a bookcase with two shelves of printed materials on Samar and Leyte. He expanded the archival library from 60 publications to 900 and added other media, including artifacts, clothing, music, photos, stamps and coins. After fortifying the collection, Father Quetchenbach obtained recognition for the museum as a research institute from the National Science Development Board of the Philippines.

In addition to his work with the museum, Father Quetchenbach also guided Divine Word University (Tacloban), which is now known as Liceo del Verbo Divino, through the accreditation process.

Born in Rochester, N.Y., in 1929, he was the youngest of Albert and Ida (nee Erb) Quetchenbach’s four children. At age 20, he professed religious vows. In 1957, he was ordained to the priesthood before embarking on his first assignment in the Philippines, where he worked for 21 years.

From 1957 to 1963, he served as principal of Abra High School. When he arrived, the school consisted of a Quonset hut and two modest rooms below a rectory. By the time he left—to become a doctoral candidate and instructor at San Carlos University—three large, two-story buildings comprised the Abra campus.

Following his successes in the Philippines, Father Quetchenbach returned to the United States. In 1978, he became president of Divine Word College (Epworth), America’s foremost seminary for future overseas missionaries.

After four years as college president, Father Quetchenbach was called to Rome to serve as secretary general at the Society of the Divine Word world headquarters.

During his career, Father Quetchenbach also was a parish pastor in Appalachia, a chaplain at the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, and director of the Divine Word charitable gift annuity program at Techny. In recent years, he was chaplain of Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center. During that time, he oversaw the Chapel of the Holy Spirit and the restoration of the chapel’s stained-glass windows.

Father Quetchenbach held a master’s degree in education from the University of Notre Dame and a doctorate in education from the University of San Carlos, Cebu City, Philippines. He authored a dissertation, titled A socio-psychological theory of administration in a Philippine school setting.

Always seeking to learn, Father Quetchenbach was a self-taught statistician. He enjoyed sports and music. An accomplished tennis player and musician, he played violin, cello and harpsichord.

In 1996, he and four other Divine Word Missionaries received the Father Carl Schmitz Memorial Award in recognition of their contributions to the Philippines.

"Whether in the Philippines, Divine Word College or Techny, he inspired those around him with his enthusiasm and joie de vivre," said Father Quang Duc Dinh SVD, rector of the Techny Residence.

Father Quetchenbach is survived by his sister Evelyn Brophy and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. Visitation for Father Quetchenbach will be held on Friday, Nov. 25, at 6 p.m. in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center. His wake service will follow at 7 p.m.

His funeral Mass will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26, in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center is located at 2001 Waukegan Rd., Techny (Northbrook), Ill.

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

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