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Michael Groesch FFSC

July 26, 1913 - December 11, 2010

The Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross rejoice that God has chosen to call our Brother to his eternal home.

Brother Michael Groesch, FFSC
Died peacefully at the age of 97 on Saturday, December 11, 2010.

On July 26, 1913, George Vincent was born to George Jr. and Amelia Theresa (nee Fleck) Groesch in Springfield, Illinois. George Vincent was one of nine children. The day after his birth he was baptized at Sts. Peter and Paul Church. He received his Sacraments of Initiation at Sts. Peter and Paul Church with First Holy Communion in 1921 and Confirmation on May 17, 1925. He attended Sts. Peter and Paul Elementary School (1919 -1927) and Springfield High School, graduating in 1931. During the summer months, George spent time working on the Hospital Sister’s farm. Later, he drove the delivery truck for his father’s meat cutting business.

From 1931 to 1933, George was trained at Brown’s Business College in Springfield, completing the course as a secretary and general office responsibilities. He was employed at Bunn Capitol Grocery Company, in Springfield; two years in the capacity of bookkeeper and five years doing secretarial work and recording for the chief buyer. In 1940, at the age of 26, he entered the Nursing School at the Alexian Brothers’ Hospital in Chicago, Illinois; graduating from the School September, 1943 and passed the examination for State Registration during the same month. While at the Alexian Brothers’ Hospital School of Nursing, affiliation was made with DePaul University of Chicago, for Sciences. For two years (1943 – 1945) during World War II, George worked in a supervisory position at the Alexian Brothers’ Hospital. In 1945, George returned to Springfield where he worked as a private duty nurse at St. John’s Hospital and to people in their home. At the same time, he continued his College education at Springfield Junior College under the auspices of the Ursuline Sisters.

It was while engaged in the work at St. John’s Hospital he became acquainted with one of the Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross from St. James Trade School who was hospitalized because of an illness. It seemed to have been the wonderful spirit of joy that helped him make up his mind to follow the Lord in religious life. As George stated in his autobiography, “I felt this must have been the Hand of Providence.”

George Vincent Groesch, at the age of 33, entered the Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross on September 17, 1946. On March 19, 1947, George Vincent was invested with the holy habit and received the religious name of Michael. Brother Michael pronounced his first vows on March 19, 1949 and his perpetual vows on August 12, 1952. Brother Michael has the distinction of being the “first American Brother” in our Congregation.

Brother Michael was instrumental in establishing a Formation Program for the Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross in America. The first Novitiate was the former diocesan seminary “Hilltop” in New Berlin, Illinois. Later, the Novitiate was relocated to Riverton, Illinois. He was the Vocation Director and Superior. Later, he was the principal and general science/biology teacher at St. James Trade School. With an influx of postulants to our community, Brother Michael was again appointed superior and novice master for several terms, until St. James Trade School closed in 1972.

In 1972, he worked at Kennedy School in Palos Park, Illinois, a facility for the developmentally disabled and also worked at St. Coletta School in Jefferson, Wisconsin. In 1976, after Brother James Court opened to the care of individuals with developmental disabilities, Brother Michael became the director of nursing services and served for a time as the assistant administrator until he retired from this responsibility at the age of 75. Brother Michael was the recipient of the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Award given on December 8, 2002 by Bishop George J. Lucas. In 2005, due to his changing medical needs, Brother Michael resided in Loretto Home of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis. Brother Michael died peacefully at 12:45 AM, Saturday, December 11, 2010.

Brother Michael requested that his wake and funeral take place at St. Francis Convent. He enjoyed his beginning years as a child there. In 2005, Brother Michael returned to St. Francis Convent and resided in Loretto Home to prepare for his heaven-ward journey. During these years, he was surrounded by the loving care of his Franciscan Sisters and Brothers and generous care givers in Loretto Home.

The Wake for Brother Michael will take place on Wednesday, December 15 from 10 AM to 12:45 PM with the Mass of Christian Burial following at 1:00 PM. He will be buried in Resurrection Hill Cemetery of the Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross, Springfield, Illinois.

May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

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