Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Father Dick included this Francis Thompson poem in his annual "Christmas letter" for many years. It was one of his favorites.

Little Jesus by Francis Thompson
Ex ore infantium, Deus, et lactentium perfecisti laudem.
Little Jesus, was Thou shy
Once, and just so small as I?
And what did it feel like to be
Out of Heaven, and just like me?
Didst Thou sometimes think of there,
And ask where all the angels were?

I should think that I would cry
For my house all made of sky;
I would look about the air,
And wonder where my angels were;
And at waking twould distress me
Not an angel there to dress me!
Hadst Thou ever any toys,
Like us little girls and boys?
And didst Thou play in Heaven with all
The angels that were not too tall,
With stars for marbles? Did the things
Play Can you see me? through their wings?
And did Thy Mother let Thee spoil
Thy robes, with playing on our soil?
How nice to have them always new In Heaven, because twas quite clean blue!

Didst Thou kneel at night to pray,
And didst Thou join Thy hands, this way?
And did they tire sometimes, being young,
And make the prayer seem very long?
And dost Thou like it best, that we
Should join our hands to pray to Thee?
I used to think, before I knew,
The prayer not said unless we do.
And did Thy Mother at the night
Kiss Thee, and fold the clothes in right?
And didst Thou feel quite good in bed,
Kissed, and sweet, and Thy prayers said?

Thou canst not have forgotten all
That it feels like to be small:
And Thou knowst I cannot pray
To Thee in my fathers way
When Thou was so little, say,
Couldst Thou talk Thy Fathers way?
So, a little Child, come down
And hear a childs tongue like Thy own;
Take me by the hand and walk,
And listen to my baby-talk.
To Thy Father show my prayer
(He will look, Thou art so fair),
And say: O Father, I, Thy Son,
Bring the prayer of a little one.

And He will smile, that childrens tongue
Has not changed since Thou wast young!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rest in Peace, Father Chips

From The Pittsburgh Post Gazette:
RASZEWSKI REV. EDWARD J., C.S.Sp.Rev. Edward J. "Chips" Raszewski, C.Sp., 90, of Bethel Park PA a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit died Monday, January 19, 2009. Father Raszewski was born June 27, 1918. He professed his vows August 15, 1941 at Holy Ghost Novitiate, Ridgefield CT and was ordained to the Priesthood June 3, 1947 at St. Mary's Seminary, Ferndale, Norwalk CT. His first assignment in 1948 was to Tanzania, East Africa where he worked in pastoral ministry in the Dioceses of Moshi, Same, Shinyanga and Arusha for forty-seven years. From 1966-1976 he developed the western part of Mount Kilimanjaro where he built churches and helped establish new parishes. In 1987 he opened a new parish in the Arusha Diocese and ministered as hospital and prison chaplain until he returned to the States in 2001 and retired to Sarasota FL. He has been a resident of Libermann Hall. Bethel Park since 2004. Fr. Raszewski was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Angela (Wszolek) Raszewski and his brother, Aloysius Raszewski. He is survived by his brother Casimir and sister, Wanda Wartski and many nieces and nephews. There will be viewing at The Spiritan Center, Bethel Park on Monday, January 26th from 3:00-5:00 PM where Mass of Resurrection will take place Tuesday, January 27th at 10:00 AM. Burial will take place in St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Pittsburgh PA. In memory of Fr. Raszewski donations may be made to the Spiritans designated for retirement or for the education of future Holy Spirit Fathers, 6230 Brush Run Road, Bethel Park PA. 15102

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rest In Peace "Father Al"

Father Albert M. Seichepine

Father Albert M. Seichepine, C.S.Sp., died Sept. 3, 2007. He was 81.

Born in Delaware, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Congregation of the Holy Spirit in 1951. He served in Puerto Rico until 1986, when he was appointed superior of the retirement community at Spiritan Hall, Bensalem. He lived there until the hall closed, at the same time serving as co-director of Our Lady of Victories Shrine in Philadelphia.

He continued his retirement at Liberman Hall, Bethel Park, Pa.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Anna, and brothers Francis and Patrick. A funeral Mass was celebrated on Sept. 10, 2007. Burial was in the Spiritan Community Cemetery, Bensalem. He is survived by his brother, Victor; his adopted sister, Ann Leinhauser; his sister-in-law, Catherine Seichepine, and many cousins and nephews.

A memorial Mass was held in the chapel at The Spiritan Center, Bethel Park on Monday evening September 17, 2007.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Monday, May 28, 2007

Society of Third Infantry Division

Posted on Memorial Day (Observed) in memory of Chaplain (LtCol) Richard F. Wersing

Friday, March 23, 2007

Recent Letter from Father's Jeep Driver

Hi James,

I got your name out of the Watch on the Rhine (3rd Infantry Division newsletter). Fr. Wersing was a very close friend of mine from Korea. My name is George Pilkington. I live in Cuba, IL

I hauled Fr. Wersing in a jeep all over Korea. He would spread his blanket on the hood of my Jeep - this served as his altar. Sometimes he would insist on going up the hill and into the trenches. A very determined man.

I met him in Iowa I think 1993. It was a glorious reunion.

I was on Kelly Hill in 1952 on or near 28 July 1952. I was sent to the motor pool to haul water to the front line at night losing my truck they put me in a jeep where I met Fr. Wersing. I wasn't of the Catholic faith, I'm a Protestant. I sure hope you knew Fr. Wersing, he was a blessing.

I have a video of him in Iowa I would share.

Your friend,

Arlington National Cemetery

Fr. Wersing's gravesite at Arlington is 54-526
and is within easy walking distance from the Visitors Center

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Poem for Fr. Dick

Written by niece Kate on occasion of his 92nd birthday!
And delivered as a remembrance at his funeral Mass...

In 1910, say it again, in 1910
You, Richard Francis, were born
to Margaret and John.

For 14 years then you came and you went;
on Trenton Avenue these years you spent.

The on to Herman and Ferndale
You traveled afar a priest to become.
So you went to study and pray and discern.

In 1937, a priest you were ordained,
to serve God your whole life,
for that you had trained.

Then to Louisiana and Kentucky you did go
to set up missions so God the people would know.

Then to the army for 20 plus years,
serving as chaplain in war and in peace.
You saw action in Europe, Korea, and more.

Next came retirement,
the first of three.
You went back to school
to earn two degrees.

Then at Duquesne the students you did teach,
sharing your knowledge and love of literature with each.

Then came the day you retired once again.
Your duties as Archivist you had to begin.

Then to Africa you went to teach and archive,
when you were two years past seventy-five.

Finally the day did arrive for you to retire
the third and last time.

Trinity Hall became the base from where you came and you went
to travel and to visit with all the friends you had made.

Now you’re at Bethel and it’s 2002.
Say it again, it’s 2002, and Richard, you’ve turned 92.

Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!

with love from Kate

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Jim H.
August 26, 2006

I have a lot of mixed feelings and emotions this morning, including humility, gratitude, faith, joy and love. And when you think of it – aren’t those all things that Fr. Dick taught us about? And his manner of instruction was not really teaching, per se. In much the same way as Jesus told parables with lessons, Fr. Dick told stories – and when we listened closely the message was there. As for Humility - how is it that I happen to be asked to stand before you? - I am so blessed - All I am is simply one of the last in a long line of people he touched along the way.….

And I am so grateful that I ended up in this long line…

I am grateful that I can say – like all of us can say: Knowing Father Richard Wersing changed my life. And we didn’t have to know him very long before we realized that we were in the presence of a saint!
Reading that wonderful article in yesterday’s Post Gazette and the long obituary we just can’t tally up the number of people in that long line – it’s certainly in the many thousands.
We met less than 3 years ago - Some would say by sheer coincidence, but I say a “coincidence” is simply when God chooses to remain anonymous.

We began to spend Friday afternoons together just down the hall – talking and listening, reading and writing… and praying. His favorite prayer was the Litany of Loreto. He was in Mercy Hospital the weekend Pope John Paul II died - Alice and I stopped to visit him on Sunday - I remember looking at my watch, seeing it was 2:35 PM and I said “Father, Alice and I have to leave soon, would you like to say the Litany before we go?” And we did. Later I discovered the Pope died at 2:37 Eastern time. I couldn’t wait to tell Father…I was like a young boy running home with a good report card…When I told him we were saying the Litany when the Pope died, his face lit up and with a big grin he said “Wow! That’s wonderful! What a beautiful thought!”

This place, The Spiritan Center, is a Sanctuary
. There is even a sign on the driveway telling us so. I quickly learned Fathers room, cluttered as it was, also was a Sanctuary. And we took many road trips…to visit w/Marian, to Duquesne, to St. Joseph House of Hospitality, to have dinner w/Frankie Sapienza, even to his grade school reunion, and I discovered that the Sanctuary was moveable –-- you see the Sanctuary was wherever Father was.
We all know his extensive resume - His was truly a Life of Significance - and when I say his room was cluttered – it was cluttered in a good way: with important items – items that chronicle his life.

Let me share just a little of what I learned about this beautiful life…

At age 13 he had a paper route in Wilkinsburg. A few months ago we came across his 1923 paperboy collection book - completed in his handwriting, with every penny and every paper accounted for, of course! He was a stickler for detail. He had me read the weekly collections aloud, and questioned some of the accounting!

And we came across his 14th birthday present from his parents: a 1924 World Stamp Album full of stamps he had collected. I read him the inscription from his parents and this lead to wonderful stories about the love of his mother and father.

Once we came across a Valentines Card his mother had mailed him while he was away at seminary. These are the things he kept.

I asked him about his first interest in becoming a priest. He said "It was the subtle influence of pastors. Great men; respected and dignified; especially Father Lambing. Father Lambing was the first priest I ever saw and knew. He came weekly to check our catechetical knowledge and our classroom deportment. As a schoolboy I attended my first funeral Mass upon his death; this was in St. James parish, Wilkinsburg in 1919."

As for his Missionary years...
he had a beautiful letter that a woman had sent to his Provincial at the time. She wrote…

"I am a convert with an extremely sketchy early religious education; as a matter of fact, the first Catholic to reappear in the family since the reformation!At Pentecost, Father Wersing opened new doors to me. His sermon on the Holy Ghost, and the subsequent days of worship and instruction, illuminated new corridors of grace, and has ever since been a source of daily prayer, and a bulwark of strength.There is another thing about Father Wersing: a unique quality of saintliness: it shone about the man; the essence of the Holy Spirit was palpable.I shall forever be indebted to him, and hence to his Order, for the inspiration of his guidance."

As for the Army years…

One of the items we read on a regular basis was the 3rd Infantry Division Newsletter, which not so long ago had an article written by Jim Tiezzi, who served with Fr. Dick in Korea…he wrote ”We met several times on the front lines of Hill 355 ...Wherever he went he always gathered as many GI's as he could to say Mass, sometime there were only a few and sometimes over 100...On one occasion he said Mass on the reverse side of Hill 355 ...All of a sudden the enemy started shelling our position and all of us GI's had been trained to duck and put our helmets back on...They had been off because we were in "church", so we put them back on and kept them on for the remainder of the service. As I looked up at Fr. Wersing, there he was still standing up continuing to say Mass like nothing else mattered except the completion of the Mass. Some enemy shells had landed nearby and fortunately no one was hit, however dirt and mud had splattered his garments. He was later recommended for the Bronze Star for this action."

· As for his Teaching years at Duquesne…

A former student gave him a gift of a book of poetry that had this inscription inside:

“Dear Fr. Wersing, When I first came to Duquesne I came from a world of newsprint where people were concerned with saying things in the most literal fashion possible. It was your English course that brought me back to the beauty and real possibilities of the English language. Without that course I could not have appreciated this book. I hope you can appreciate it as much as I did."

· And finally Libermann Hall…

Father Joe Kelly wrote a wonderful article in the December 2003 Spiritan Newsletter…“An unexpected event happened one night here at Bethel's Libermann Hall - the fire alarm rang out during the night. The police arrived, the Bethel fire truck was being prepared for action and the confreres had come out of their rooms to see what was happening, but there was no sign of Fr. Dick Wersing, who is now 93, frail and with very poor eyesight.It was soon discovered that the source of the emergency was not an enveloping fire but a small piece of toast someone was making which got burnt and gave off the smoke that tripped the alarm. The cause of the alarm had been discovered but there was still no sign of Fr. Dick...Until one of us went to the chapel area and there he was. When he heard the alarm, he had hobbled to the chapel to be ready to remove the Blessed Sacrament if there was a need.”

Fr. Dick introduced me to The Stations of the Cross along the driveway – the Stations were so important to him. He had a favorite napping place in the woods just beyond the First Station and once I found him sound asleep among the bushes. We would go out to say the Stations and I would often forget the little pamphlet that I needed with the prayers. So he would say “OK, we’ll just do them my way”. Well, you see I forgot the pamphlet on purpose because I preferred his way. For instance when we got to the 5th station where Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross – Father would in his own way prayerfully thank God for all the men that were put into his life to help him along the way, and at the 6th Station where Veronica wipes the face of Jesus he would say a prayer of gratitude for all the women God put into his life. And so it went, with each Station.

· In our private conversations I learned about the things he loved…

His family – he talked often and from the heart of his mom and dad, his sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews and extended family…and loved them all dearly.

His army buddies – he was genuinely concerned about meeting the spiritual needs of his men.
His friends and confreres - his sincere love of mankind and of his fellow priests was evident in the way he maintained relationships and cherished the memories.

And His priesthood – he was so happy and content to be a priest and in particular a Holy Ghost Father and his stories about those who taught him in seminary were full of gratitude.

· Of course, no recollection of Father Dick would be complete without recalling his wonderful sense of humor…

He wasn’t a joke-teller, per se, but it was the way he often wove humor into his stories. And he was the King of One-Liners…
About a year ago I had some dental work…

I told him "Father, I will see you Friday...but I won't be able to talk much; On Thursday I am having some ORAL SURGERY.”He responded - "It's interesting...most of my life I've been involved in MORAL SURGERY!"

· But my favorite humorous story is from about 1940 when he was a missionary in Muskogee Oklahoma…..

It seems the local Baptist minister developed a serious resentment about Father encroaching on his territory and so The Baptist minister and his wife who were almost always together would avoid Fr. Dick at all costs and even cross to the other side of the street when they saw him coming.

Well, once Father had to take a train somewhere and, as a cigarette smoker, was enjoying a smoke on the small platform while waiting for the train. The Baptist minister was taking the train as well and had to come up on the platform. But his wife was not with him. He walks by, looks at Father disgustingly and says "Jesus never smoked cigarettes!" Fr. Dick replied "We don't know that for certain...but we do know He was never married!"
· Don’t we miss him already? How blessed we all are that God chose to put Father Dick on this earth… and in our lives. His memory will surely nurture us until we meet again.

Father has an old friend Frankie Sapienza, whose health prevents him from being with us today. When I emailed Frankie of Fathers passing he wrote back:

“My dear friend Father Wersing, is now blessed with the Kingdom of Peace that he desired and prayed for during his lifetime on earth! I am so happy and look forward to being with him again!”

· Over the years whenever I left his room we would shake hands and say goodbye…but as I was going out the door he would always shout out 4 messages to me…

God Bless!
Stay happy!
Thanks for coming!
Safe home!
I always felt that was a wonderful way to say good-bye…

And so, to all of us I say ”God Bless!” and “Stay Happy!”
And to you Father Dick we say “Thanks for coming!” and “Safe Home!”

Friday, August 25, 2006

From today's Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Richard Wersing
Missionary priest and Duquesne U. professor
Feb. 12, 1910 - Aug. 23, 2006

Friday, August 25, 2006 By Kate McCaffrey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

By the time the Rev. Richard Wersing was assigned to Duquesne University in 1971, he had already traveled the world over after serving for 24 years as a chaplain with the U.S. Army.
Father Wersing, who taught literature and poetry and later became the university's archivist, died Wednesday at age 96.

He professed his vows in 1934, when he was 24. Three years later he was ordained a Catholic priest, joining the Congregation of the Holy Spirit Order.

Just before the outbreak of World War II, Father Wersing signed on as chaplain in the Army. So many of the stories he would later weave stemmed from his adventures there. Some, such as the tale that he was the first to cross the Rhine River to greet the Russians, are almost mythical. Other tales include the foxholes of the second World War and the cold in the Korean.
Father Wersing also served in Algeria, Morocco and Israel, as well as chaplain for the Atomic Energy Project in New Mexico.

After 24 years of service, Father Wersing retired as lieutenant colonel and returned to Pittsburgh to teach at Duquesne University. He was assigned to the English department, where he taught the literature and poetry he so loved to freshmen and sophomores. Father Wersing enjoyed the act of speaking and performing, and recounting anecdotes in front of his young audience.

Sometimes in the evenings, after class, he'd get a ride to Wilkinsburg to watch young people play baseball. He never worried about a ride home; he always found one.
In 1978, Father Wersing became the university's archivist. He began to gather photographs and assembled several exhibitions chronicling Duquesne's history.

At the age of 77, Father Wersing traveled to Arusha, Tanzania, where he helped the diocese develop an archive so historians could better research the activities of Catholic missionaries. When he wasn't doing that, he was giving parishioners rides to Mass and buying them food.

No matter what his age, despite being nearly deaf and blind in one eye, Father Wersing was always interested in what was going on, what was happening, what he could learn, how he could help.

He retired when he was 83 but continued to live on campus because he loved being in the midst of the action. And there was always someone around to tell a story to.
He is survived by two sisters, Marian La Place and Margaret Wersing.

Visitation will be today from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Spiritan Center, 6230 Brush Run Road, Bethel Park, where Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. tomorrow. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.