Father Elmer Schmidt; served mostly in Tier - Catholic Courier

Father Elmer Schmidt; served mostly in Tier

Father Elmer J. Schmidt, whose priestly service in the Southern Tier spanned 28 years and three parishes, died Jan. 24, 2007, at McAuley Residence in Rochester. He was 76 years old and had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for many years.

Father Schmidt grew up in Rochester’s Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish. He attended the parish school there as well as St. Andrew’s School, then moved on to St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries.

He was ordained June 9, 1956, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral. He served as assistant pastor at Holy Family Parish, Rochester (1956-59); St. Anne, Rochester (1959-64); and Church of the Assumption, Fairport, (1964-67).

Father Schmidt arrived in the Southern Tier in 1967 as assistant pastor at St. Vincent de Paul, Corning. He remained in Corning through 1974, serving during the community’s devastation by the great flood of 1972.

“He gave a tremendous amount of assistance,” recalled Father Michael Conboy, a close friend. Father Conboy said Father Schmidt’s car had been ruined — but rather than worry about his own affairs, “he was out helping the people.”

When Father Conboy was rushed to the hospital for acute appendicitis in 1965, he tried to think of the holiest of priests to perform an anointing of the sick.

“I chose Elmer Schmidt,” the priest said.

Father Schmidt assumed his first pastorate in 1974 at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Apalachin, where he served until 1983. He played a key role in bringing the still-popular Living Stations of the Cross to the area, during a time when a youth-led Stations was a novel concept. Father Schmidt also was well-known for visiting parishioners’ homes by bicycle.

He began in 1983 as pastor of St. Ann Parish in Hornell, remaining in that position until 1995, when he retired due to growing complications from Parkinson’s. He remained at St. Ann as priest-in-residence for a couple of years before moving permanently to the McAuley Residence at the Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse in Brighton. There, Father Schmidt strove to improve his computer skills; was active in welcoming others to McAuley; and continued to write the Catholic Courier occasional letters to the editor. In 2000 he became a Sisters of Mercy Associate.

“I never, ever heard him complain (about his health). He took things in stride. He was a good, holy man,” Father Conboy said.

In June 2003 Father Schmidt attended the ordination of Father Mark Brewer, a native of St. Ann in Hornell. After other clergy had concluded the ceremonial laying on of hands, Father Brewer went over to Father Schmidt’s wheelchair and knelt before him so his former pastor could bestow a blessing as well.

“He was a good presence in my life — a very humble man, very simple man,” Father Brewer said. “I was really touched that he could make it to my ordination. To have him be able to come was a great witness to me to what the priesthood was all about. It was a nice moment we could share.”

Father Schmidt is survived by his brother, Milton Schmidt; sister-in-law, Dolores Schmidt; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

His funeral Mass was scheduled for Jan. 30 at St. Margaret Mary Church in Irondequoit, with Bishop Matthew H. Clark as celebrant. Interment was to follow at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Fr. Elmer Schmidt McAuley Residents’ Fund, 1437 Blossom Road, Rochester, NY 14610; Our Lady of the Valley Parish Social Ministry, 343 Canisteo St., Hornell, NY 14843; or St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry, 120 French Road, Rochester, NY 14618.

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