Saturday, June 16, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 24

As you might expect, this week’s writing prompt is Father’s Day. I have written extensively about my dad in other blog posts, so I am going a different direction this week. Another important “father” in my life was Father Francis Ostdiek, from whom I received my First Holy Communion.
Holy Trinity October 2017
Father Ostdiek was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1913. In 1920 he was given the responsibility for building first a church and then a school to establish Holy Trinity parish in Des Moines, Iowa. Bishop Thomas Drumm gave him $500 and a plat of land at Beaver and Adams Streets. With $100, he purchased a former Knights of Columbus hut from Camp Dodge, which he dismantled and moved to the new location to serve as a temporary church. By the next year he built a combination school and church, and in January of 1922 thirteen students attended the school.

Holy Trinity School
We moved to Des Moines in 1960, and our new home fell within the boundaries of Holy Trinity. It was there that my brother and I began our education at the parish school, riding the school bus from our home in northwest Des Moines. I remember that Father was very visible in the school building, and of course we saw him each morning at mass before the school day began. From Father Ostdiek I learned what it meant to be not only a good Catholic, but a good person as well. He taught us to be kind to one another, and to help others in need. He was an incredible example of walking the talk.

Father Ostdiek ~1960s
Due to tremendous growth in the Catholic population in the early 1960s, part of Holy Trinity was divided off to attend the newly constructed St. Mary of Nazareth Church located a few miles from Holy Trinity. When the church boundaries were redrawn, our street fell into the new parish. Beginning in 1965, we attended Sunday mass at our new church. However my brother and I continued to attend school at Holy Trinity. Father Ostdiek remained pastor of the church the entire time we were there, retiring in 1969 after serving the parish for 49 years!

On 4 October 1979, at the age of 91 he greeted Pope John Paul II from his wheelchair when the Pope visited Des Moines on his U.S. tour. The Pope reportedly said, “You could not come to see me in Rome, so I came to you in Iowa.” That certainly must have been a highlight in Father Ostdiek's life, which ended on 6 June 1981 at the age of 93. He lived a long and holy life, and I am grateful that he was part of mine during the years when my faith was in its infancy.
Father Ostdiek meets Pope John Paul II

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