I was born May 6, 1929, and baptized on the 26th. That means my conception was around August 6, 1928. Our family was small: mother Irene, Dad Leo, older sister Jeanne, younger brother Jack. We belonged to Sacred Heart Parish, Rock Island, Illinois, and I was educated at the grammar school there from first through eighth grade.

Postcard of Sacred Heart Church
via Rock Island Preservation Society
My confirmation was November 22, 1936; I took Joseph as my confirmation name. The next major event in my personal history was a tragic one. On January 5, 1939, when I was nine years old, my family was in a car accident near Pampa, Texas. Mother was killed. I suffered a severe fracture to my right hip, leaving me disabled.

On November 21, 1941, my father married Ethel, who had been a close friend of my mother and him. Ethel became a second mom to me. She and my father gave us a sister, Jo Ann.

After completing grammar school, I spent one year at Rock Island's St. Joseph High School before discerning a vocation to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. From age 15, onward, the remainder of my high-school years and my first two college years were at Our Lady of the Ozarks, Carthage, Missouri, an OMI minor seminary.

Photo of St. John Lateran by Tango7174, via Wikipedia.
My OMI novitiate began August 14, 1949 and finished with my first oblation (vows) August 15, 1950, at Godfrey, Illinois, near Alton. Then the OMIs sent me to study at the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where I had three years of philosophy and four years of theology. My oblation for life was August 15, 1953, at Roviano, Italy, our summer home. My diaconal ordination was December 22, 1956, and I was ordained a priest for life on April 6, 1957, both at St. John Lateran (St. Savior) in Rome.

Being a priest has toned my relation as brother and father and friend with our brothers and sisters of the human family and our brothers and sisters of the Catholic family of Jesus. For the priestly people, my call is to be a servant priest with the deacons, presbyters, bishops, and the bishop of Rome.

My mission as a priest so far has been as a theology teacher for twenty-five years and as a parish priest for twenty-five years. As a teacher, I served at schools of theology in Pass Christian, Mississippi; San Antonio; St. Paul; and Washington, D.C. As a parish priest, I shepherded in the dioceses of Stockholm, Sweden; Yakima, Washington; Birmingham, Alabama, and Chicago. For these last years, I have served as a chaplain for contemplative nuns and as an assistant to parishes, especially in Spanish-speaking ministry. Along the way, Paul VI named me a theological expert (peritus) at Vatican II, and the Dominican-run Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome made me a doctor of sacred theology (S.T.D.).

My special concern everywhere has been youth, children, and families. Central to my preaching and teaching are Jesus our merciful Savior, His beloved friends Mary and Joseph, and His love—the fire of his passionate offering of Himself for His Father and us His brothers and sisters through His Holy Spirit. Aging makes me more thankful for His many blessings, more sorrowful for my many sins, and more hopeful for my ongoing conversion. Please keep me in your prayers.

Father Don


  1. Oh Father! I am so glad to see that you have a blog. An amazing phenomena of your pastorship of our parish was people in the pews discreetly tape recording your homilies. We were the fortunate recipients of your knowledge. I look forward to your posts! Magdalena Hudson

  2. Father Don!!! Sometime last week I heard from my daughter who read on Facebook that Angie mentioned that we need to pray for you. Today is 8/16/16. I hope you're doing well. I do miss you so very much. God bless you, Father. Susan Schurdak