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|+Monsignor Jerome Neufelder|
Conferral speech for the Distinguished Alumnus Award given posthumously at the 2003 Saint Meinrad Alumni Reunion
Presented August 12, 2003
by Father Richard M. Ginther, member of the Alumni Board of Directors
It is an honor and a pleasure to present the recipients of this year’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. The established criteria for this award do not specify whether the recipient be lay or ordained, living or deceased. What the criteria do clearly state is that the individual must have provided recognized service to Saint Meinrad and the Church and, most importantly, exemplified the Gospel values in his or her life and work.
As a member of the selection committee, I can assure you that our task was not an easy one. Many of Saint Meinrad’s Alumni have made great contributions to Saint Meinrad and the Church. The field of nominees was quite large and filled with Alumni who are very deserving of this special recognition. But, we are pleased with the results of our prayerful discernment and discussion, and now honor three of Saint Meinrad’s Alumni.
We will be presenting the awards in alphabetical order.
I would like to call on Archabbot Lambert to assist in presenting the awards.
As I said at the outset, the criteria for this award do not limit us to presenting the award to a living Alumnus. Our second recipient passed away on July 24th of last year. It was with a heavy heart that Saint Meinrad alumni received the news of Monsignor Jerome Neufelder’s death. During his priestly life, he prayed faithfully for the monks, faculty, staff, students and alumni of Saint Meinrad. We trust that in his new and eternal life, he continues to intercede for us to God the Father.
Fr. Jerome Neufelder was ordained in 1955 for the Diocese of Evansville. He served as associate pastor in several parishes and was named the first director of Sarto Retreat House in 1961. He served as chancellor for the Diocese of Evansville beginning in 1977. In this position, which he held for eight years, he showed himself to be a capable administrator, but more importantly, a compassionate listener who was always available to the priests of the Diocese. Perhaps the highest compliment ever paid to Monsignor Neufelder was the comment made by a fellow priest, who when Jerry announced his resignation as Chancellor of the Diocese, said, “He is a priest’s priest.”
Monsignor Neufelder served Saint Meinrad School of Theology for over 30 years and helped advance Saint Meinrad’s mission and values. He held various positions within the School including; Spiritual Director, Director of In-Service Ministry, Vice Rector, Director of Continuing Education, Overseer and teacher. He also served two terms on the Alumni Association Board. Monsignor Neufelder also was a founding member of the Midwest Association of Seminary Spiritual Directors and the National Federation of Spiritual Directors. In addition, he published several works on spiritual direction.
Reflecting on his years at Saint Meinrad, Monsignor Neufelder said in an interview, “My greatest personal joy and feeling of satisfaction comes from the long hours spent in personal spiritual counseling with the seminarians. The real sense of satisfaction is in the trusted and respected relationship, which I was privileged to share in with these young men. To follow such a man over a four year period to priestly ordination, sharing in the unbelievable struggles over vocation, faith, celibacy and prayer, and finally watch him step forward to ordination to ministry, is a privilege few priests enjoy today… All I want to be remembered for now is that I gave my all to be a good spiritual director. If this is what the students at Saint Meinrad remember me for, my years were well spent.”
Truly, this son of Saint Meinrad, Monsignor Jerome Neufelder, has distinguished himself and his Alma Mater by his prayer and work
We are honored to have with us several members of Monsignor Neufelder’s family. Along with other family members we are privileged to have present tonight, his sister, Barbara Elpers and her husband Robert; his brother Gerald and his wife Sharon Neufelder; his brother Larry and his wife Marie Neufelder; his brother Eugene Neufelder; his sister Dorothy Youngson; his sister Betty and her husband Gary, his sister Ann and her husband Chad Williams; and his sister Norma Wild.Receiving the award on behalf of her brother is Jerry’s sister, Norma Wild. It is with great pleasure that the Saint Meinrad Alumni Association confers the Distinguished Alumnus Award upon Monsignor Jerome M. Neufelder.
Others recipients in 2003:
Fr. J. Lawrence Richardt