Missionary impacted Catholic Church in United States, Ghana and Vietnam
Father Stanley Uroda, 1948-2021
Divine Word Father Stanley Uroda, 72, a missionary in Ghana and two-term provincial in the United States, died on March 18 following a battle with cancer.
“When I think of Stan, the word that immediately comes to mind is integrity,” said Father Stephen Bevans SVD, Louis J. Luzbetak SVD Professor of Mission and Culture, Emeritus, at Catholic Theological Union, in his homily during Father Uroda’s funeral.
“Stan was really the best; a great friend; a wonderful person; a decisive and yet compassionate leader; a wise counsellor; a humble missionary to Ghana, Appalachia and Vietnam; a great SVD; and a holy man,” he said.
Father Uroda served as provincial superior for two three-year terms beginning in 1996. During his tenure, he recognized the need for more missionaries in Appalachia and expanded the Society of the Divine Word’s presence in McDowell County, a region economically devastated by changes in coal production.
Born in Detroit in 1948, Stan Uroda was the second of Joseph and Julia Uroda’s four children. In 1962, he entered the high school seminary at Perrysburg, Ohio; professed vows in 1971; and was ordained to the priesthood in 1974.
After earning a master’s degree in Education from Loyola University in Chicago in 1976, Father Uroda was sent to Ghana for his first assignment, where he served as a chaplain and teacher at St. Paul’s Technical School in Kukurantumi/Akim, Ghana. After eight years in West Africa, tropical illnesses, such as malaria and typhoid, took a toll on the young priest. In 1984, he returned to the United States.
After a year of studies at the Institute of Religious Formation in St. Louis, Father Uroda was appointed as formation director of Divine Word Theologate in Chicago. He directed and mentored Divine Word seminarians, who studied at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago until he was elected vice provincial in 1990.
While vice provincial, at the behest of the Superior General in Rome, Father Uroda strengthened the bond between the religious congregation and the Catholic Church in Vietnam. He also served on the Techny Land Committee and worked with Father Francis Kamp SVD to develop and lease the Divine Word property in Techny, Ill., that was no longer being used as farmland.
After completing his second term as provincial, he went to Appalachia to serve as a parish priest for St. Peter in Welch, W.Va.; Christ the King in War, W.Va.; and Our Lady of Victory in Gary, W.Va.
In 2005, he returned to the Divine Word Theologate, this time as rector. After nine years there, he was asked to go to Vietnam, where he lived in the Divine Word Missionary community in Nha Trang and taught English classes for students in formation.
When he returned to the United States in 2018, he became the superior for the Divine Word Community in East Troy, Wis. In 2020, he moved to Techny for health reasons.
In addition to his pastoral and administrative activities, Father Uroda also served as a board member for the Volunteer Missionary Movement (VMM-USA), an organization of lay missionaries who fostered peace, social justice and human empowerment of the poor and marginalized.
He is survived by his sisters Antoinette Alwin, Dorothy Alwin and Mary Seder, as well as nieces and nephews.
Father Uroda’s visitation and funeral Mass took place at St. Joseph the Worker Church in Wheeling, Ill, on March 22. He was buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery at Techny. A video of the wake and funeral, including Father Bevans’s homily, can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/2zzQcW4Ktco.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in the name of Father Stanley Uroda can be made for the education and formation of missionaries through the Divine Word College/Uroda-Schumacher Trust, 102 Jacoby Dr. SW, P.O. Box 380, Epworth, IA 52045-0380.
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