Date of death: 9/27/2008
Saint Meinrad Class: O 1949
Joseph J. Steckler, 85, passed away peacefully at Hospice House after a long and courageous battle with pulmonary fibrosis. He was a retired Pastoral Minister from Boca Raton, Florida.Mr. Steckler was born on March 19, 1923, in Evansville, Indiana, the son of Urban and Helen Steckler. He grew up in Evansville but spent much of his childhood at The Shriners Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, receiving pioneering treatments which enabled him to walk. He entered Saint Meinrad Seminary at the age of 14, where he completed secondary and post-secondary education, graduated and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest for the Evansville Diocese in 1949.Father Steckler served as an Associate Pastor for St. Joseph Church in Evansville from 1949 to 1952, St. Mary’s Church in Washington, Indiana, from 1952 to 1955, and The Assumption Cathedral in Evansville from 1955 to 1956. He then served as Pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Oakland City, Indiana, from 1956 to 1960, as Pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Linton, Indiana, from 1960 to 1968, where he led the fundraising and building of the main sanctuary and modernization of the church hall, and as Pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Washington from 1968 to 1970.His admiration and affection for the Shrine never wavered and as a priest he worked tirelessly to bring the Church and Shrine together in service to humanity. He was named an honorary member of the Shrine and “The Shriner Priest” was an active participant and frequent speaker at local events and national conventions throughout the l960s.Mr. Steckler received a dispensation to leave the priesthood in 1970 and worked for the next several years in higher education, first serving as the Educational Director of Porter Business College in Indianapolis, and then as Director of Admissions and Registrar of Fort Lauderdale University in Florida, where he met his wife, Ann, an instructor at the school. They married in 1973 and he adopted her son, Fred. The family resided in Boca Raton, Florida, where they were active in the newly established Ascension Catholic Church. At Ascension Church, Mr. Steckler was founder of The Men’s Club, editor of the monthly newsletter, and Co-Chairman of the Capital Campaign to build a new sanctuary and multipurpose hall.In 1983, he was asked to serve as Pastoral Minister to the Ascension Church community and he served in that role until his retirement in 1992. During that time he counseled many parishioners, directed the lay ministry and religious education programs and helped establish the monthly baptismal conferences for young parents. He started the Inquiry Classes and during his tenure, 379 people attended, 173 converted to the Catholic faith, and 126 distanced Catholics returned to the practice of their faith.After retiring, Joe and Ann moved to the mountains of North Carolina and enjoyed many wonderful friends and happy years in the Vaile Cay Community, near Boone. In 2004, the Stecklers moved to Keswick, Virginia.Survivors include his wife of 35 years, Ann; his son, Fred, of Washington DC; his sister, Patricia of Boca Raton, FL; many nieces and nephews; and a large circle of dear friends. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Urban, Paul, and Jerry.Donations be made to The Hospice of the Piedmont, 2200 Old Ivy Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903.Information obtained from the Evansville Courier & Press online, www.courierpress.com, on 9/30/2008.