Date of death: 4/11/2013
Saint Meinrad Class: O 1942
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 16, at St. Mary’s Church here for Father George J. Schroeder, who served as pastor of St. Mary’s Parish for 41 years.Father Schroeder, a senior priest of the Diocese of Peoria who observed the 70th anniversary of his priestly ordination last June, died on Thursday, April 11, at Trinity Rock Island. He was 95.Visitation will be from 3 to 7 p.m. today at the church, with a reception of the body service at 2:30 p.m. Recitation of the rosary is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, will be principal celebrant of the funeral Mass. Burial is at Calvary Cemetery, Rock Island.Born April 25, 1917 in Chicago to Robert and Anna Denk Schroeder, he was raised within walking distance of St. Francis Xavier Church on the city’s Northwest Side and attended the parish grade school. After graduating from Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago, he studied philosophy at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein.Because there were so many seminarians there at the time, he was released to the Diocese of Peoria and began theological studies at the Canisianum Seminary in Innsbruck, Austria. The Nazi invasion in 1938 forced the seminary faculty and students into exile in neutral Switzerland. Later, when the Nazis broke through the Maginot Line, the American Consulate in Geneva ordered the group of 50 American seminarians to flee to France, where they were returned to the U.S. aboard the U.S.S. Washington.Father Schroeder finished his priestly formation at Saint Meinrad Seminary in Indiana and was ordained by Bishop Joseph Schlarman at St. Mary’s Cathedral on June 7, 1942.With the exception of two years as parochial vicar at St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s after his ordination, Father Schroeder would spend his entire five decades of active priesthood serving the people of St. Mary’s Parish in Rock Island.In 1944, he was sent to work with Father H.W.B. Prost, pastor of St. Mary’s, and was named administrator the following year due to Father Prost’s failing health. In September of 1951, when St. Mary’s observed its 100th anniversary, he was named pastor by Bishop Schlarman.During his 41-year pastorate, the oldest Catholic church in Rock Island County was updated and improved many times. When the parish school closed in 1968, Father Schroeder instituted a religious formation program that was so large he had two bus routes every Wednesday night so the children could get to and from class. The building is now a multipurpose parish center named Schroeder Hall.As pastor, he promoted Marian devotions in May and October as well as First Friday devotions. He is credited with starting many popular parish events such as Oktoberfest.It is estimated that Father Schroeder baptized more than 1,000 persons and officiated at 350 marriages.Father Schroeder was granted senior status in 1992, the year he celebrated the golden jubilee of his ordination. He served briefly after his retirement as administrator of St. Mary’s Parish, Moline.In the ensuing years, he remained active in parish life, conducting the adult choir and frequently celebrating Mass at St. Mary’s. In an interview with The Catholic Post on the occasion of his 70th anniversary of ordination last June, he told of his continued ministry of prayer for his family, friends, and parishioners.Survivors include his sisters, Rosemary Serapin of Hoffman Estates, Anne Stubing of Arlington Heights, and Dolores Tasch of Hampshire; 16 nieces and nephews as well as several great-nieces and great-nephews. He was preceded in death by a brother, Father Richard Schroeder, who served in the Archdiocese of Chicago.From the Catholic Post.