Fr. Wilfred “Gabe” Hoff, O.P.
I knew Gabe Hoff in Albuquer-que. He was living in an apartment at first, but we (a new community in 1999) convinced him to move back to the Newman Center. He moved back into his old room. Stetson hat, boots, belt buckle, shirts, and a pick-up truck, Gabe was the quintessential westerner… and Dominican. Gabe was a voracious reader, and he would recommend books that were “edgy”—controversial topics but well-written.
Even when I knew him he was deaf. When I last visited him as Resurrection Life Center with the novices in April, for introductions we said, “Hi, I’m Brother so-and-so.” He said, “Hello, I’m deaf.”
Perhaps others have experienced Gabe as a consummate gentleman. He was never arrogant or rude (cf. 1 Cor 13:5a).
– Fr. Bob Keller, O.P.
Fr. Michael Kyte, O.P.
When I was a novice, and we were finishing up our weekly spiritual conference one afternoon, I responded to Michael Kyte’s advice on time with God by saying: “I’ll handle it.” He stopped me in my tracks and then said: “Brother, this isn’t the corporate world here. We don’t handle God, he handles us. Our life is not first about efficiency, but inefficiency, being in the mess of things, dependent on someone else to take us to where He wants us to go on His timetable.” Michael never forget he was a sinner in need of a redeemer and he never let those he ministered to forget it either!
Even in his cancer-stricken days. Michael’s great hardship was not physical, but in not having the energy to be pastorally present. The hackneyed political mantra: “I feel your pain” was genuinely real for him. At a cost to himself, he had a space for your troubled conscience or unexpected tragedy or inner demons. He was a demon slayer, not allowing you to wallow in self-doubt or be paralyzed by insecurity.
You felt dear to Michael in that moment, you felt beloved. It was a gift because he gave it freely over and over again. At a cost to himself, he had a space for your sorrow. But he also had a place for your joy or good fortunate as well. No one would be happier than Michael at your good news.
Michael Kyte was not a perfect man. He would be the first to tell you that. But he was a saintly man, because his imperfections and sense of sinfulness led him to a humility and compassion for others that gave integrity to his vowed life as a religious. In the end, he was a true religious; he had emptied himself of himself to provide space for others’ joys, sorrows, needs and the sufferings of others. He suffered enough alright…by giving himself away, until death. Isn’t that the point of every Christian’s life? Thank you, Michael.
– Fr. Andrew Carl Wisdom, O.P.
Br. Gilbert Hensley, O.P.
Brother Gilbert was one of my first teachers. As a teacher’s aide at St. Vincent Ferrer, he would sit in the hallway with groups of us as we read out loud. He would stop us if we stumbled and would patiently guide us through unfamiliar and difficult words. Both my sister and I say to this day that Brother Gilbert helped teach us how to read.
I recall my excitement when I was old enough to become an altar server. Brother Gilbert was strict with us – gym shoes were not allowed when we served Mass; we could not talk during Mass and we had to sit up straight. There were two small backless benches in the sanctuary. That is where we sat – on either side of the priest on seats with no backs!
Yes, Brother Gilbert was one of my first teachers. But whenever I prepare to celebrate the Eucharist, I recall what he taught me about the Mass: everything associated with it is sacred, and it must be celebrated with dignity and solemnity.
– Fr. Dennis Woerter, O.P.
Gilbert Hensley was a servant of the servants of God. He wanted to serve the Dominican community and all those who were serving others as priests, brothers, sisters or dedicated lay people. Whatever personal issues or struggles he had, he sought to resolve or put aside–which nobody can really do–by being someone who could do good for others, serve the community and seeks the common good–to be a “brother” to others. He knew that “charity covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4,8), and Gilbert served a multitude of communities.
Whether he was at the House of Studies in River Forest (book binding, laundry), or at St. Vincent Ferrer Parish (sacristan, teacher assistant in the school), or at Blessed Sacrament in Madison (teacher assistant in the primary grades at the Edgewood Campus School), and finally at the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters’ Motherhouse, Gilbert was there to get things done, whether it was part of his job or not; he would go out of his way to see that needs were being fulfilled, whether at the workplace or in the Dominican community.
What all this meant for Gilbert, I think, is that he was creating a “home”, a place where people felt at home and enjoyed community life. Gilbert never really felt at home in his early life as he lost both parents and lived in a foster home. The home that he was looking for he found in the Dominican Order, in the Dominican family, of both friars and sisters.
– Fr. Jack Risley, O.P.
Fr. Thomas Morrison, O.P.
My son Paul met Fr. Morrison on the 18th Street “L” platform in Chicago well over 20 years ago. Paul was deep into drugs and alcohol and was mentally and physically ill. He noticed Fr. Morrison’s collar, knelt down before him and said he was tired of the life he put himself in. Over the course of 20 years, Fr. Morrison was available for help, usually when I was at my lowest point and in despair regarding Paul. Paul is doing much better now—Fr. Morrison’s kindness, prayers, counsel, and Masses have changed the course of both our lives. He was a Christ-like priest and will be missed by Paul and myself. May God bless him and keep him forever.
– Toni LaMontagna
Fr. Bede Jagoe, O.P.
Bede sat across the aisle from me, one row in front at St. Rose Priory in Dubuque, Iowa when we were students of theology, so I had a good view of him. If the teacher’s lecture was particularly boring, Bede would hold his wrist watch up to his ear and begin to shake it, to see if it had stopped. Time seemed to have stood still. He brought a lot of smiles to a lot of faces with his great sense of humor, and was an instrument of God’s grace to countless others.
When he served as chaplain at Chicago’s Midway Airport, he would sometimes stand at the Arrivals gate and say to the emerging passengers: Welcome to Cincinnati! They would gasp and exclaim, “I don’t want to be in Cincinnati!”
The life with God after death is an eternal NOW. There is no yesterday or tomorrow. So Bede won’t have to shake his wrist watch anymore. There is no time or space in eternity.
– Fr. Joseph Fogarty, O.P.