Rev. Gerard J. Theis, O.S.A. (1927-2001)
Rev. Gerard J. Theis, O.S.A. entered eternal life on October 15, 2001, after a long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (A.L.S., also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease).
Gerard Joseph Theis was born on July 28, 1927 in Dayton, Ohio. He was the son of Raymond Theis and Bernadette (Desch) Theis. He was baptized on October 6, 1927 at St. Ann Catholic Church, Hamilton, Ohio.
After studying at Chaminade High School, Dayton, Jerry entered St. Monica Minor Seminary, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. He completed his high school studies at Augustinian Academy Minor Seminary, Staten Island, New York, graduating in 1945.
On September 8, 1945, Jerry was received into the Augustinian Novitiate. He professed simple (temporary) vows in the Order of St. Augustine on September 10, 1946 and solemn (permanent) vows on September 10, 1950. He was awarded a B.A. in Philosophy from Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania, in 1950. Following theological studies at Augustinian College, Washington, he was ordained a priest on September 19, 1953.
Jerry taught at St. Rita High School (1954, 1957-1964) and Mendel Catholic High School (1954-1957), both in Chicago. In preparation for an assignment to Perú, he studied during 1964-1965 at Cody International Institute, Nova Scotia, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin. From 1965 to 1975, he served in Chulucanas and Ayabaca, Perú. He spent four of those years as Mission Superior of the Augustinians (1971-1975) and Vicar General of the Prelature of Chulucanas (1971-1975).
Upon returning to the United States, Jerry took part in the preaching ministry of the Mission Band, located at St. Rita High School, Chicago (1975); St. John Stone Friary, Chicago (1976); and St. Mary Parish, Rockford, Illinois (1977). He also served as Associate Pastor at St. Mary. He returned to Perú in 1978 and was a member of the formation team for candidates to the priesthood in Santo Domingo, Lima, and Trujillo. He was Master of Novices there for several years.
In 1993, Jerry left Perú to minister at Holy Rosary Parish, Kenosha, Wisconsin. The following year he became a counselor at Providence Catholic High School, New Lenox, Illinois. The progression of A.L.S. prompted his retirement in 1997. As his body gradually weakened, he maintained a positive and faith-filled attitude until the time of his death. He died on October 15, 2001.
Jerry was an accomplished artist. His sketches and paintings depict mostly religious themes. He was also a student of St. Augustine. While in Perú, he was well known for directing retreats based on St. Augustine’s spirituality and lecturing on themes from St. Augustine’s thought. He produced an extensive set of notes on St. Augustine’s theology of sacrament, prayer and social justice. Jerry is also remembered for his deep concern for the poor, his love of children, and his abiding sense of humor, even as his physical condition deteriorated.
Jerry is buried in the Augustinian Plot at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Alsip, Illinois.