By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
Building A Successful Photography Busine It was fitting that Father Robert Roedel, a retired priest of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, died on Palm Sunday.
“He was a great servant of God – now he’s home,” said 24-year-old Dennis Curran, a member of Assumption B.V.M. Parish in Feasterville, where Father Roedel served as a parochial vicar for 18 years. “He’s with God who called him to the priesthood. It’s very meaningful that he died on Palm Sunday.”
Father Robert H. Roedel, a resident of St. John Neumann Nursing Home in Philadelphia, died Sunday, April 5, 2009. He was 80 years old.
His last assignment before retiring in December 2004 was parochial vicar of Assumption B.V.M., where he had served since September 1986.
Father Roedel, who for years suffered from diabetes, eventually had both legs amputated. “He never complained about his pain, he never gave up,” Curran said. “He always made it to Masses.”
The first time Curran served Mass, Father Roedel was the celebrant. “I was the only altar server that day; I was a little nervous,” Curran said of that summer day he’ll never forget. “He helped me out. He gave me a big smile and said, ‘You can do it.'”
Father Roedel’s sense of humor came to the young server’s rescue one Christmas Eve when Curran briefly lost control of a soaring flame on a candle he was lighting. “Father saw me and said, ‘There goes the church.'”
Through the years, Curran helped Father Roedel navigate his walker or wheelchair as he made his way to the altar to celebrate Mass. “I looked at him as a role model,” Curran said. “He gave the best homilies.” Whatever the subject, “He was just a great source of knowledge,” Curran added.
The first of two sons of the late Arthur and Marie (nee Eddinger), Roedel was born Aug. 18, 1928, in Allentown.
He attended Sacred Heart School in Allentown and Allentown Central Catholic High School before entering St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.
“He was always cheerful,” said Msgr. James P. McBride, a seminary classmate who is now pastor emeritus of St. Katherine of Siena Parish in Northeast Philadelphia.
Msgr. McBride recalled Father Roedel remarking that the proximity of his childhood home to Sacred Heart Church had a significant influence on his life. “Father Roedel came out of a very Catholic tradition in Allentown. His family lived in the shadow of Sacred Heart Church … right up the street,” he added.
“The priesthood was his consuming vocation, but railroad lore was a kind of avocation,” Msgr. McBride said. “He had a generous store of railroad memorabilia.”
Added Curran: “He was like a conductor – he always kept us on the right track.”
Father Roedel was ordained May 10, 1956, at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia by Archbishop John F. O’Hara.
Assignments included parochial vicar of St. Mauritius, Ashland; St. Anthony of Padua, Easton; Annunciation B.V.M., Shenandoah; St. Margaret, Reading; St. Aloysius, Pottstown; Holy Trinity, Morrisville; Visitation B.V.M., Philadelphia; All Saints, Philadelphia; St. Joseph, Aston; St. Clement, Philadelphia; and Assumption B.V.M., Feasterville.
Cardinal Justin Rigali celebrated Father Roedel’s funeral Mass Wednesday, April 8, at Assumption B.V.M. Church in Feasterville.
Msgr. McBride was the homilist.
Father Roedel is survived by a niece, Ruth Miller; a nephew, Edward Roedel Jr.; and a grand-niece, Kylie Miller.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Edward.
Interment was at Sacred Heart Cemetery, Allentown.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.