Deacon Richard Schuler, a 20-year permanent deacon in the Diocese of Rochester who spent the bulk of his tenure at St. Helen Church in Gates, died Jan. 31, 2014, after a long illness. He was 70 years old.
Deacon Schuler, a Churchville resident, grew up in Rochester’s Blessed Sacrament Parish. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1977 from Rochester Institute of Technology and worked 30 years for Gleason Works in engineering and later human resources. He received his master of divinity degree from St. Bernard’s Institute and was ordained to the permanent diaconate by Bishop Matthew H. Clark on June 12, 1993.
Deacon Schuler served as deacon at St. Margaret Mary Church in Irondequoit from 1993-95 before moving to St. Helen. Father John Firpo, pastor of St. Helen from 1996-2008, recalled that Deacon Schuler eventually became both the parish deacon and pastoral associate there.
"He combined beautifully his diaconal role into his pastoral associate role," said Father Firpo, who now oversees Greece’s St. Charles Borromeo and Holy Name of Jesus parishes.
"His homilies came from the heart and spoke of life experiences. He was a compassionate, deeply sensitive man and minister," Father Firpo added.
Deacon Schuler was St. Helen’s temporary administrator during Father Firpo’s 2003 sabbatical. In addition, he served in the diocesan Tribunal office from 2008-11 while also ministering at St. Helen. Beginning in 2011 he served as deacon of the newly formed cluster of St. Helen, St. Jude and Holy Ghost parishes.
"He always found time to listen and help set people on the right path," remarked Deacon Jim Chatterton, a retired deacon who was a classmate of Deacon Schuler’s and a member of his deacon support group since ordination.
Deacon Chatterton added that Deacon Schuler’s life "in good times and in bad was always a joy," saying that his smile and pleasant expression "would always make people feel comfortable around him and thus willing to discuss any of life’s major problems."
Both Father Firpo and Deacon Chatterton described Deacon Schuler as a dedicated family man, as well as a person with a distinct sense of humor.
"He was always able to make you laugh, even if he would be having a bad day," Deacon Chatterton said.
Deacon Schuler is survived by his wife, Kathleen; sons, Robert Michael (Jodi) and Daniel Aaron (lla); grandchildren, Aiden, Benjamin, Noah and Nora; brother, John (Diane) Schuler; sister-in law, Mary Pat (Alex) Dauria; brothers-in-law, John (Linda) Popp and Terrence (Catherine) Popp; and a niece and nephews.
Deacon Schuler’s funeral Mass took place Feb. 4, 2014, at St. Helen Church. Donations in his memory may be made to Hope Hall, 1612 Buffalo Road, Rochester, NY 14624; St. Helen Church, 310 Hinchey Road, Rochester, NY 14624; or the Marie Drexel Foundation in care of St. Helen Church.