Xavier Jesuits honored for 50 years of service

Frank Oppenheim, S.J., and Ted Thepe, S.J., two of seven priests from Class of 1955 ordained by Chicago Province | June 8, 2005

Philosophy professor Frank Oppenheim, S.J., and associate chemistry professor emeritus Theodore Thepe, S.J., two Xavier Jesuits who have taught at the University since the early 1960s, are being honored with a special day of prayer and thanksgiving in celebration of their dedication and service to the Jesuit order for 50 years.

Xavier and the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus are sponsoring a Mass and reception at Xavier’s Bellarmine Chapel on Sunday, June 26, at 4:00 p.m. for Oppenheim, Thepe and five other members of the province, which encompasses Indiana, Kentucky and parts of Illinois and Ohio.

It is one of 10 provinces in the society and includes 235 Jesuit priests, two retreat houses, two Jesuit universities including Xavier and five Jesuit high schools.

The priests were among 25 members of the class that was ordained on June 25, 1955, at West Baden College, a Jesuit seminary in Indiana, Thepe said. Some members left the order and others have died, leaving only the seven who are being honored.

Thepe said the most significant changes he experienced during his 50 years were those brought by Vatican II in the early 1960s, such as the renewed emphasis on community life for the Jesuits and changes in the liturgy.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Thepe said of the celebration. “I am inviting about 15 people to the reception.”

Thepe, who came to Xavier in 1961, remains active at the University teaching a photography class. Oppenheim also joined the Xavier faculty in 1961 and is a research professor in the philosophy department.

The other Jesuits being honored are Fred Bergewisch, S.J., formerly a professor at Loyola University Chicago, James Chambers, S.J., chaplain of the John H. Stroger Jr. Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Robert Dressman, S.J., of the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, Ill., Donald O’Shaughnessy, S.J., minister at the Faber Jesuit Community in Cincinnati, and Herbert Raterman, S.J., moderator of the Moments of Reparation Radio Program and a Faber Community member.

The Mass is open to the public. A reception by invitation only is being held in the Clock Tower Lounge in the Gallagher Student Center after the service. For more information, please call the Jesuit Development Office at 513-751-6688.