Laughter and poignancy filled the St. Mary’s Chapel on the St. Thomas South Campus as hundreds gathered to commemorate the life of The Rev. Jerome M. Dittberner.
The Rev. Jerome M. Dittberner passed away Monday, May 7, at age 74. (Courtesy of St. Thomas)
On Friday, May 11, more than 100 priests and deacons from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and family and friends of Dittberner joined for the Mass of Christian burial at St. Mary’s Chapel at the St. Paul School of Divinity.
Dittberner passed away Monday, May 7, at age 74. He was ordained a priest in 1964 in Rome. Dittberner served as a professor of systematic theology at the seminary for 39 years, retiring in 2009.
Archbishop John Nienstedt was the celebrant of the mass.
“I believe that Father Jerome was a classic example of those we need in the priesthood,” Nienstedt said.
The Rev. Charles Lachowitzer, in his homily, said, “Jerome longed for heaven and loved life.”
Lachowitzer knew Dittberner from his time in the St. Paul Seminary. Lachowitzer shared their experiences, including a short anecdote about Dittberner’s open-heart surgery 20 years ago. Lachowitzer, who was then a deacon, recalls the first thing Dittberner said when he went to visit him after the surgery.
“‘I’m near death and they send deacons,’” Lachowitzer quoted Dittberner as saying.
Lachowitzer also spoke on Dittberner’s desire to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“Jerome had a heart open to grace and a mind set in the perusal of virtue,” Lachowitzer said.
Dittberner was laid to rest at Resurrection Cemetery in St. Paul.
Caroline Rode can be reached at email@example.com.