Life story: St. Germaine pastor remembered for compassion, ice cream cones
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY email@example.com September 28, 2012 4:22PM
Updated: November 1, 2012 6:23AM
Those who knew him remember the Rev. William Goedert as a great pastor and a great man who brought a lot of life — and a lot of Rainbow ice cream cones — to St. Germaine Parish during his 18 years as head of the Oak Lawn church.
The Rev. Goedert, 83, died Sept. 21 of lung cancer.
At his funeral Tuesday, there was a floral arrangement shaped like a Rainbow ice cream cone, said Marion Krucek, St. Germaine’s religious education coordinator.
“When you know someone likes something, that is how you remember him,” she said.
Those at St. Germaine who loved the Rev. Goedert also remembered him as a “calm, peaceful man,” a “super intellect,” a world traveler, and the priest with the shortest homilies.
The Rev. Goedert was pastor emeritus at St. Germaine, where he served as pastor from 1977 until his retirement in 1995.
He was ordained in 1955 and for the first three years after that served as assistant pastor at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. After earning his master’s degree in education from Loyola University, he began a career as a school and seminary administrator that spanned two decades.
“We were blessed to have him as pastor,” Maureen Shields said.
More than 30 years ago, Shields asked The Rev. Goedert if they could start a program for unwed mothers called “Courage.”
“He said, ‘It’s a lousy idea but I know you are going to do it anyway,’ ” she said. The program still is strong today, serving 150 young women per month.
The Rev. Goedert also began God’s Special Friends for those with special needs.
“Those were his two highest achievements,” Shields said of the two programs. “When there was something to be done for the downtrodden, he was the first one there.”
“He was always there when you needed him,” said Krucek, who was hired by the Rev. Goedert 17 years ago. “He tried to bring out the best in people. He brought a lot of people into the ministry. Everyone felt welcome here.”
After the Rev. Goedert retired and came back to live at St. Germaine, Krucek said she enjoyed going out to lunch with him. They would “discuss the great mysteries of faith,” she said.
“His homilies would come alive because he would describe a scene and make you feel like you were right there,” Krucek said. “He had a wonderful life.”
The Rev. Mike Furlan, the current pastor, described the Rev. Goedert, with whom he lived for the past 10 years, as “the wise old man.”
“The parish was just 15 years old when he became pastor and it had gone through some tough times,” Furlan said. “He pulled things together and gave it a shot in the arm. He brought a lot of life and liveliness to it.”
The Rev. Goedert would mingle at many parish events, then disappear.
“He would sneak away when no one was looking,” Furlan said. “We called it, ‘Pulling a Goedert.’ He was not one for long goodbyes.”