Father John Marquardt
When Father Marquardt celebrated his 50th jubilee in 1994, he was quoted as saying, "I always wanted to be a priest....I was born with that on my mind."
A graduate of Chicago's Quigley Preparatory Seminary and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Father Marquardt was ordained for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1944 by Archbishop Samuel Stritch.
It was after hearing Father William Howard Bishop, founder of Glenmary, speak about the home missions and about Glenmary's work that Father Marquardt requested permission to leave the archdiocese soon after ordination and join Glenmary. He made his First Oath to Glenmary in 1946, becoming a home mission priest dedicated to working in Appalachia, the South and Southwest, areas Father Bishop called "No Priest Land, USA."
"Father Marquardt was a missioner through and through," says Father Dan Dorsey, president of Glenmary. "His one burning desire in life was to see the dream of Father Bishop come to fruition—that is, the conversion of America to the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
With that as his focus, Father Marquardt's ministry led him to serve the home missions in Kentucky, Virginia, Oklahoma, Ohio, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas. In addition, he earned a canon law degree and served as rector of Glenmary's Our Lady of the Fields seminary for 10 years. He described himself as teacher, rector and pastor, with the job of pastor being the dearest to his heart.
Father Marquardt served Glenmary missions in Sunfish, Ky. (1944-45) and Norton, Va. (1948-49 and 1950-51) as assistant pastor. His first pastorate was in Buffalo, Okla. (1953-56), where he opened Glenmary's first Southwestern mission. He returned to Cincinnati in 1956 to begin his 10 years as rector of the seminary, a role he thoroughly enjoyed.
He had an "abiding devotion to the teachings of the Catholic Church and was not shy in defending them—whether in homilies, the classroom, letters to the editor or in general conversation. As one former parishioner recalled, "His preaching style gets to the real point of what religion is about and what the teachings of the Catholic Church are.... He tells it like it is."
He spent four years (1966-70) as pastor of Glenmary's mission in West Union, Ohio, before moving on to West Point, Miss. in 1970. For the next 10 years, the West Point mission grew in numbers and ministries. At that same time he, along with Glenmary lay missioners, began outreach to Eupora in neighboring Choctaw County. In 1977, Mass began to be celebrated weekly at the tiny St. John Catholic Center in Eupora with a handful of Catholics. Today, St. John Catholic Church has a parish membership of 45 and a satellite mission in Ackerman, Miss.
After three years (1980-1983) in Glenmary's Vidalia, Ga., mission, he was assigned to Atlanta, Texas. During his 12 years (1983-95) in Atlanta, again with the help of lay missioners, the church membership grew. As was his custom, he provided continuing education classes for the adults of the mission, encouraging them to study the documents of the Second Vatican Council and papal encyclicals.
Father Marquardt returned to Oklahoma in 1995 to pastor Glenmary's missions in Antlers and Clayton. Last year he accepted senior membership status and moved to Glenmary's headquarters.
"I'd like to be remembered as a happy and loyal Glenmary missionary priest," Father Marquardt stated in the guidelines for celebrating his funeral rites. For those he served—Glenmary seminary students and members of his missions—his wish is granted.