Retired Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Goedert, survivor of the Andrea Doria disaster, dies at 96

Retired Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Raymond E. Goedert, who was also the archdiocese's former vicar general between 1996 and 2003, died at age 96 on Dec. 9, 2023. He is pictured in an undated photo. (OSV News photo/Courtesy Archdiocese of Chicago)

CHICAGO (OSV News) -- Retired Auxiliary Bishop Raymond E. Goedert of Chicago, who had served in various positions in the archdiocese, including as vicar general, died Dec. 9. He was 96.

"As we grieve the death of Bishop Emeritus Raymond Goedert, we thank God for giving his servant to us and the Church for 71 years," Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago said in a Dec. 11 statement.

"A friend to me and to so many and a caring brother to his siblings, he leaves this earth to be at the banquet of Our Lord. May his soul rest in peace," he added.

Cardinal Cupich presides at the funeral Mass for Bishop Goedert Dec. 18 at Holy Name Cathedral, followed by burial at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in River Grove, Illinois.

Raymond Emil Goedert was born Oct. 15, 1927, in Oak Park, Illinois, to Elizabeth A. Wink and John P. Goedert. He attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago and the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois.

He was ordained to the priesthood for the Chicago Archdiocese May 1, 1952, by Cardinal Samuel A. Stritch, and he celebrated his first solemn Mass May 4 of the same year at St. Giles Parish in Oak Park.

Then-Father Goedert later attended the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome where he obtained a licentiate in canon law in 1956. As he was returning to the United States from his studies in Rome aboard the SS Andria Doria, a transatlantic ocean liner of the Italian Line, the ship collided with another passenger ship, the Stockholm, and sank 200 miles from New York July 25-26, 1956. The maritime disaster resulted in the deaths of 51 people -- 46 from the Andrea Doria and five from the Stockholm.

In a 2012 article in The New World (now Chicago Catholic), the Chicago archdiocesan newspaper, Bishop Goedert shared his recollections of the collision as a young priest and the "spiritual implications of what happened."

Following his ordination to the priesthood, then-Father Goedert served as assistant pastor at St. Gabriel Parish and Blessed Sacrament Parish, both in Chicago, and at Mater Christi Parish in North Riverside, Illinois. He also was appointed as ecclesiastical notary, assistant chief judge and judge of the archdiocesan court, archdiocesan consultor, vicar for priests, archdiocesan director of a ministry for the widowed called NAIM, and pastor of St. Barnabas Parish in Chicago.

He served as president of the Canon Law Society of America and received the society's Role of Law Award in 1975. Among other things, then-Father Goedert was president of the Presbyteral Senate of Chicago and chairman of the Association of Chicago Priests.

On July 8, 1991, St. John Paul II named him an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago. He was consecrated by Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin Aug. 29, 1991.

Bishop Goedert served as vicar general of the archdiocese from 1995 to 2003 and again briefly on an interim basis from August to November 2004. He retired Sept. 1, 2003.

Father Scott Donahue, whose first assignment following his ordination in 1982 was at St. Barnabas Parish, where the future bishop was the pastor at the time, is the homilist for the late bishop's funeral.

"A very good man has been called home to God," Father Donahue said in a statement. "As a priest, I have received many blessings in my life. One of the greatest blessings in my 42 years of being a priest is my friendship with Bishop Raymond Goedert."

Bishop Goedert had seven brothers and three sisters, none of whom survive him. He leaves behind many nieces and nephews.


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