Faith Among Us - A Story of One Man Practicing Stewardship

An Interview with Joe Schwarzenberger which appeared in the Church of the Ascension parish bulletin on November 13, 2016.
By Jim Schwarzenberger

Recently Kathy and I were contacted by the parish and were asked if one of us would write an article on behalf of my father, Joe Schwarzenberger. This transpired as a result of his request for envelopes for the weekly Sunday collection. My Dad turned 101 on October 15. I decided to just tell dad about this request and ask him some simple questions about his desire to continue his weekly contributions to the Church. I hope dad's common sense responses can bear some fruit.

Jim: Some folks at Ascension Parish are intrigued that a 101-year-old man would want to get envelopes and contribute to the collection now. What do you say to that?

Dad: Why not now? (Interesting that he focused on the word "now.")

Jim: Some might say that you do not need to do this anymore, that you've "done your duty." And what do you say to that?

Dad: I want to do it.

Jim: Why?

Dad: Because we are to love our neighbor. And our neighbor needs us. It all stems from loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Jim: What else?

Dad: It is an expression of my faith and my trust in the Church.

There are no coincidences in life. Right after I visited with dad I opened a book he was reading and found a card with perhaps St. Mother Teresa's most famous quote: "Never think that a small action done to your neighbor is worth much. It is not how much we do that is pleasing to God, but how much love we put into the doing." True stewardship at 21, 51, or even 101.


Joseph P. Schwarzenberger

October 15, 1915 - November 10, 2016

Joseph P. Schwarzenberger passed away at the age of 101 peacefully in his sleep on November 10, 2016. He was preceded in death by Helen, his wife of 67 years, his parents Michael and Lugartha (Uhrich) Schwarzenberger, brother Michael and his sisters, Mary, Pauline, Sister Michael, O.P., and Magdelan. 

Joe leaves behind sons Tom, Jim and Gary and daughters Patty Leiker and Jodi Winslow. Seventeen grandchildren include: Luke, Ted, Joe and Tony Schwarzenberger; Lisa (Leiker) McIntire, Amy (Leiker) Chapman, Taby (Leiker) Leupold; Matthew, Kevin, Jimmy and Paul Schwarzenberger and Janelle (Schwarzenberger) Beczak; Jennifer (Schwarzenberger) Soemer, Camille (Schwarzenberger) Bishop, Tim Schwarzenberger; Shawn and Jonathan Winslow, and 41 great grandchildren.

Joe had a deep and abiding love for his family and in his retirement years took great joy in crafting all sorts of things from wood, his favorite being black walnut, for Helen and then for their offspring. Helen complemented this with the rapid fire production of many diverse crocheted items, quilts, clothing etc. and, in particular scores of doilies of all shapes and sizes, all destined for the homes of their children, grandchildren along with friends, church auctions and more.

A devout Catholic, Joe attended Mass each Sunday and also drove himself to a mid-week Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. Joe was still driving to Mass and wherever else he wanted well into his 97th year, yet another indicator of his resilience. A regular after Mass activity was a breakfast or lunch with an ornery group of fellow church members who cherished Joe's company as he did theirs. These "good friends" had great respect for dad and loved his unique sense of humor. The "gang" misses him.

Joe was always a farmer at heart, always wanting to know the bushels per acre yield on wheat along with other news associated with farming. He was amazed at reports of 50+ bushels per acre achieved through modern methods when a yield of 20 would have been considered very good back in the 50's. Joe was incredibly gifted at building and repairing all things associated with life on the farm with the supplies at hand. His inventiveness was just amazing. It was not uncommon for him to say, by his actions, "Why spend the money to buy it when I can make it with what I have."

Joe's parents and two of his sisters, Mary and Pauline, migrated from southern Russia to Gove County in western Kansas in 1906. Joe was born in Quinter, Kansas on October 15, 1915 and baptized in neighboring Collyer, Kansas at St. Michael's Church. Born in the midst of World War I, growing up in the dust bowl years and the Great Depression and then World War II had a lasting impact on Joe's outlook on life. Along with those major events, the uncertainties associated with dry land farming on the plains of Kansas shaped Joe. "Pinching pennies" was not only a general expression of careful financial planning, in many years it was the reality of day-to-day life. Hail storms, grasshopper invasions and droughts could diminish, and at times did indeed wipe out, what could have been a bountiful harvest. Cattle diseases, early or late blizzards and the threat of tornadoes were also a realty of life on the plains. Through it all Joe and Helen maintained a steadfast faith and hope in the future.

In 1962 Joe and Helen made the decision to move the family to Olathe, Kansas the home of the Kansas School for the Deaf (KSD) where Patty, Gary and Jodi, all born deaf, could continue their education and benefit from being closely connected to a broader deaf community. With farming being Joe's heart and soul, this was a daunting task but an exciting one for the family. With God's grace the family adapted to life in the city. Joe accepted a position in maintenance at KSD and retired as Physical Plant Supervisor in 1980.The years since Joe's retirement were marked especially with the blessed arrival of a multitude of grandchildren and great grandchildren and the joy of seeing his family grow and blossom. A bountiful harvest!



Archdiocese of Kansas City In Kansas

Office of Stewardship and Development
12615 Parallel Parkway
Kansas City, Kansas 66109
Phone: 913.647.0325 | Fax: 913.647.0333

2016 Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas - Office of Stewardship and Development