Missionary priest played central role in saint's canonization

Father Stanley Plutz, 1926-2018


Father Stanley Plutz SVD, vice postulator for the canonization of St. Arnold Janssen and longtime missionary in the Philippines, died at Techny, Ill., on Sept. 23 at age 92.

In a letter to Father Plutz, then-Divine Word Superior General Antonio Pernia, wrote, “As vice postulator you have played a significant part in promoting the canonization cause of Blessed Arnold….”

Father Plutz’s devotion to St. Arnold began when he entered Divine Word Seminary as a teenager in 1940. The German-born Father Arnold Janssen founded the Society of the Divine Word in 1875 and later established two congregations of women religious, the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters and the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters.

A phone call from Rome in 1999 put Father Plutz on a path that would deepen his relationship with the founder. Father Plutz was named the vice postulator.

As vice postulator, Father Plutz researched the cure of Pamela Avellanosa, a young woman from the Philippines who was cured of “serious cranial-encephalic trauma with the formation of an epidural hematoma on the right side, profound coma, central apnea, endocranial hypertension and parietal fracture” (brain damage) at age 14.

The miracle completed St. Arnold’s canonization process. Father Plutz presented the report to the local bishop, communicated with various commissions in the Philippines and Rome, and promoted the cause of St. Arnold worldwide through presentations and publications.

Thanks to his efforts, Father Arnold Janssen, founder of the Society of the Divine Word, was canonized along with Father Joseph Freinademetz, the first Divine Word Missionary to China, on Oct. 5, 2003.

During his 46 years as a missionary in the Philippines, Father Plutz served as a teacher and spiritual director at Divine Word and diocesan seminaries. He held a master’s degree in English from Divine Word University in Tacloban City, Philippines, and a master’s degree in guidance counseling from the University of San Carlos in Cebu City, Philippines.

Born in Appleton, Wis., Stanley Plutz was the elder of Alphonse and Eleanor (nee Uitenbroek) Plutz’s two sons. He entered the Society of the Divine Word at East Troy, Wis., in 1940 and professed religious vows in 1946.

In 1953, he was ordained to the priesthood and left for his first overseas assignment in the Philippines in 1954. Upon returning to the United States in 2000, he was assigned to the U.S. Southern Province and continued to promote devotion to St. Arnold.

Father Plutz had been living at Techny since 2013. His wake will begin at 9 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 28, in the chapel of the Divine Word Residence at Techny. The Mass of the Resurrection will follow at 10:30 a.m. He will be buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Techny. The Divine Word Residence is located at 1901 Waukegan Rd., Techny (Northbrook), Ill.

Father Plutz is survived by nieces, nephews and cousins. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations for the care of elderly and infirm missionaries may be sent to The Rector, Divine Word Residence, P.O. Box 6000, Techny, IL 60082-6000.

The Society of the Divine Word has more than 6,000 members who serve the spiritual and social needs of people in 84 countries.


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