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Death of Msgr. Delbert Schmelzer marks end of era Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Jul. 14, 2016 -- 12:00 AM
msgr. delbert schmelzer, pope John Paul II
Msgr. Delbert Schmelzer meets St. John Paul II in 1981 at a meeting of diocesan directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies held in Rome, just two weeks before the Holy Father was shot by Mehmet Ali Agca.  (Contributed photo)

VERONA -- The death of Msgr. Delbert L. Schmelzer, P.A., V.G., marks in a sense the “end of an era,” said Bishop Robert C. Morlino in his homily at the Mass of Christian Burial held on July 8 at St. Christopher Parish (St. Andrew Church) in Verona.

A priest of the diocese for 60 years, “Monsignor Del remembered what happened in the diocese and communicated with so many,” said the bishop.

He thanked Monsignor Schmelzer’s family for their “wonderful gift to the diocese.”

Testimony to priesthood

He had served as pastor at the Verona parish and returned there and to many other parishes in the diocese to help out on weekends since his retirement from parish work in 2001. “What a magnificent testimony to the priesthood,” said Bishop Morlino.

“He remained attached to the flock but never meddled. Nobody doubted that he loved them, especially at St. John Vianney in Janesville and St. Andrew in Verona.”

Ministry to priests

Bishop Morlino also pointed out Monsignor Schmelzer’s “beautiful ministry” to priests, seminarians, and the bishop himself. He heard Confessions, did spiritual direction, and gave “sound advice to so many of us,” said the bishop. “His presence will be deeply missed. He meant so much to so many.”

The bishop also mentioned Monsignor Schmelzer’s involvement with the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. He worked in that office for 46 years, retiring in 2014. “He enjoyed raising money,” noted Bishop Morlino. “He was so happy when he was able to set a new record.”

Protonotary Apostolic

The bishop also pointed out that Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed Monsignor Schmelzer a Protonotary Apostolate, the highest rank a monsignor may obtain. “That order is usually reserved for kings, princes, retired generals, and some priests,” said Bishop Morlino. “There are fewer protonotaries apostolics than bishops in the United States.”

In discussing Monsignor Schmelzer’s priesthood, Bishop Morlino pointed to the readings at the Mass, which talk about being a priest in the Order of Melchizedek. “He knew that unworthy though he was, he was called to be a priest of the Order of Melchizedek.”

Melchizedek was “a very mysterious priest who had no beginning or end. He is a mystery to himself and others,” explained the bishop. “If he reflects that mystery with his whole life, it draws people closer to Jesus.”

How does a priest bring that about? The bishop said the main tool is obedience. “The priest in his promise of obedience plugs himself into the eternal will of Christ. To obey the Church is to obey Christ.

“And Monsignor Del never complained once about obedience. He did it with joy. Everywhere he went, he was loved and accepted because people realized the will of Christ at work. He loved being obedient to the Church and Christ, especially in the area of liturgy.”

Bishop Morlino said, “Monsignor Del gave a forceful example of the Priesthood of Melchizedek.”

For Monsignor Schmelzer's full obituary, click here.

 
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