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Fr. Simon Conrad

12/8/2013

Fr. Simon Conrad, senior friar of the Capuchin Province of Mid-America, died Dec. 6, at Via Christi in Hays, Kan., thus ending several years of constant pain.

Though retired from active ministry since 2011, Fr. Simon is widely remembered as a teacher, communicator and confessor. And till the end he was best known as a consummate gentleman and professional.

Born to Frank and Grace (McCrea) Conrad of Butler, Pa., on Feb. 11, 1921, he began studies for the priesthood at St. Fidelis Seminary in nearby Herman in 1933, and entered the Capuchin-Franciscan novitiate at Cumberland, Md., in 1939.

After professing religious vows the following year, he studied philosophy for two years at St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria, Kan., and theology for four years at Capuchin College in Washington, D.C. He was ordained a priest in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, on Feb. 9, 1946.

Following a year of studies at the Catholic University of America, he earned a B.A. in library science and began nine years of teaching English and library science at the Herman seminary. In 1956, Father was sent to Victoria as local superior of the friary and spiritual director, teacher and librarian of St. Francis Seminary. From 1962 till 1965, he was director of the seminary, and he then served another three years as development director for the school.

Father next served as Capuchin provincial director of communications in Pittsburgh, Pa., from 1968 till 1974; and after a year of continuing theological education at St. Louis University, he joined the staff of the national Franciscan Communication Center in Los Angeles and served as associate editor of "Good News," a national preaching and worship service for some 7,000 clergy om the U.S. and elsewhere.

In 1980 he returned to St. Louis and served two years on the parish staff of St. Patrick's parish and then nine years as chaplain at the Alverne Chapel. When the chapel was closed in 1991, he and another friar began 17 years of weekday sacramental ministry at nearby St. John the Apostle and Evangelist Church. From 1982 till 2008, he also performed weekend ministry at Maryville Gardens.

When the Capuchins ended their ministry in St. Louis in 2008, Father returned to Victoria and engaged in sacramental ministry for another three years.

Through all of his years of ministry, Father was known for his well-crafted and thoughtful preaching. On two occasions his audience was a national one. In 1954, he and fellow Capuchin Fr. Bertin Roll conducted the nation's first televised youth mission, which was broadcast live for eight weeks on CBS network television's "Look Up and Live." In 1958, he also preached on CBS network radio's "Church of the Air."

Father wrote two books: Master and Model, a life of Christ, and Brothers of the Sun, a brief history of the Capuchins, which had press runs totaling 40,000.

Commenting on the variety of his ministries, Father said on the occasion of his 60th anniversary as a priest in 2006, "If variety is the spice of life, my life has been well seasoned."

Father is preceded in death by his parents, a sister, Grace Mahood, and brothers Frank and William.

The funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Fidelis Church, Victoria, at 10 a.m. Monday, December 9, 2013, followed by interment in the Capuchin friars' plot in St. Fidelis Cemetery.

A wake service for Father will begin at 7 p.m., Sunday at Cline's Mortuary, 412 Main, Victoria, KS 67671.

Visitation will be from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Sunday at Cline's Mortuary and from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. Monday at the church. Memorials to the Capuchin Province of Mid-America, Inc., 3613 Wyandot St, Denver, CO 80211.