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Priest with 'tough guy' image showed softer side to those in need

 
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Father Leo Dusheck, an educator and chaplain, passed away at Techny, Ill., on June 15 at age 86.

The young Leo Dusheck followed his maternal uncle, Father Andy Rentko SVD, into the missionary priesthood. Born in Hazleton, Penn., in 1933, he was the second child and only son of Helen (Rentko) and Leo Dusheck’s four children. He began his studies with the Society of the Divine Word in 1947, professed religious vows in 1953 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1961.

“People often saw him as a macho type like John Wayne,” said Father Raymond Lennon SVD, who served as provincial superior from 1982 to 1990 and as rector of the Bordentown Community. “Those who got to know him moved beyond the tough image he portrayed to see a very sensitive, caring and helpful person. He was loved and appreciated in the university hospitals and the prisons where he worked in Pittsburgh. He had a calming presence.”

After ordination, Father Dusheck attended The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., for graduate studies in biology, which prepared him for teaching. During his academic career, he taught mathematics and sciences. He was assigned to St. Mark’s Seminary in Erie, Penn., for ten years and Divine Word Seminary at Bordentown, N.J., for eight.

In 1979, Father Dusheck’s ministry shifted gears. He became a hospital chaplain in Pittsburgh and for six years prayed for and with those in need.

In 1985, he was chosen to lead the Techny Community as rector. In an interview shortly after his election, he expressed his interest in finding innovative ways to care for the retired and infirmed members of the Society of the Divine Word.

Upon completing two terms as rector, he returned to Pittsburgh, where he served another six years as a hospital and prison chaplain in Pittsburgh. In 1996, he once again made Techny his home and worked in the infirmary. He moved to Bordentown, N.J., in 1999 and assisted St. Charles Borromeo parish in Cinnaminson, N.J. until his health necessitated moving back to Techny in 2019.

Father Dusheck was preceded in death by his parents and two sisters: Sister Mary Grace (Agnes) Dusheck SSpS and Sister Rosemary Dusheck SSpS. He is survived by his sister Marie Dusheck of Northfield, Ill.

His funeral Mass will be on Friday at the Divine Word Residence Chapel. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, attendance will be limited to Divine Word Missionaries. He will be buried at St. Mary Cemetery at Techny.

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

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