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Service at Gesu honors former president

By VERSHAY BURKS/ VN STAFF WRITER
On January 26, 2016

Fr. Gerard L Stockhausen’s fellow Jesuit brothers joined with the Sisters of Mercy, friends, family and the university community to pay their final respects to the former University of Detroit Mercy president at a memorial service in Gesu Church Jan. 20.

A portrait of the late Fr. Stockhausen rested against the altar between two bouquets of white and yellow flowers.

Cheerful music echoed through the church before the service began.

UDM President Antoine Garibaldi spoke first, expressing his condolences to Fr. Stockhausen’s family, who had come from Milwaukee. With gratitude, he acknowledged the contributions Fr. Stockhausen made to the university.

Fr. John Staudenmaier presided over the service and gave the homily.

He shared three personal stories about Fr. Stockhausen.

Staudenmaier lightened the mood and the heavy hearts with laughter, sharing stories that illuminated Fr. Stockhausen’s commitment to the university and his diligence in improving UDM’s fiscal problems.

He reflected on a homily that Fr. Stockhausen gave about 10 years ago, which Staudenmaier said changed his own life.

“I think that I am different because of that homily,” he said. “This is what Gerry said, ‘A parable is usually short and you have to pay attention to the words to get the point of the parable to allow you to be affected by it.’ ”

The parable that Stockhausen shared was the Treasure in the Field.

Staudenmaier used that parable as an analogy for what Fr. Stockhausen did for the university.

The one who found the treasure in the field bought the entire field, good and bad.

When Fr. Stockhausen found the treasure in the university, he invested everything he had with time and sweat in improving UDM’s difficult fiscal situation, Staudenmaier said. He invested much of himself, he added.

“This is a man we’ve seen over the years – good days and bad days – and we have seen him invest himself in this city, and in the nationwide Jesuit network,” said Staudenmaier. “We will miss him, because in spite of being a man of few words, his words were usually funny and we know that he paid attention. He was a great listener. I don’t think he ever, ever ignored someone because they weren’t worth his attention.”

Song, prayer and communion followed.

The service ended with the crowd singing Fr. Stockhausen’s favorite hymn, “Take, Lord, Receive.” 

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