Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Obituary: Father Gerard Heintzelman

Father Gerard HeintzelmanFather Gerard Thomas Heintzelman, 90, of Danville, passed away Friday, June 7, at Maria Hall in Danville.

He was born October 10, 1933, in Sunbury, the son of Russell Samuel Heintzelman and Helen (Mulcahy) Heintzelman.

In 1947, he entered St. Charles College in Catonsville, Md., for four years of high school and two years of college, and completed his final two years of college at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Md. The final four years of preparation for ordination, along with 175 classmates, was completed at St. Mary’s Seminary in Roland Park, Baltimore. Father Heintzelman was called to Priestly Ordination for the service of the Diocese of Harrisburg by Bishop George Leech and was ordained March 14, 1959, in St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg.

Father Heintzelman’s ministry began with a 28-day assignment at St. Peter Parish in Mount Carmel and St. Paul Chapel in Atlas. His second assignment was in the neighboring parish, Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Mount Carmel in April of 1959. He later joined the staff of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Harrisburg, serving Polyclinic and Osteopathic Hospitals in Harrisburg in 1963. In 1964, Father Heintzelman became Chaplain to the Catholic patients at Geisinger Medical Center and the Basilica of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Danville. Along with these primary duties, he taught at St. Cyril’s Academy, assisted weekends at St. Joseph Parish in Berwick, and supervised the completion of All Saints Cemetery in Elysburg.

In 1970, Father Heintzelman became an assistant at the Cathedral Parish of St. Patrick in Harrisburg, along with sharing visitation of the sick at Harrisburg Hospital. From 1971 to 1973, he served at Good Shepherd Parish in Camp Hill, as an assistant. During this period of time, he also served as executive secretary for the Diocesan Liturgical Commission.

His first pastorate was at St. Peter Parish in Columbia and its mission in Wrightsville. In 1977, Father Heintzelman returned to Hospital Chaplaincy at Hershey Medical Center with residence at St. Joan of Arc Church. In 1980, he accepted the call to Chaplaincy at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene, Oregon, until 1983, when he joined the staff of St. Mary’s Medical Center on the Park in San Francisco, California.

In August of 1985, Father Heintzelman returned to the Diocese of Harrisburg. After a brief stay at St. Rose of Lima Parish in York, he became the pastor of Mary, Gate of Heaven Parish in Myerstown in 1985.

After his retirement in December of 1993, Father Heintzelman was in residence at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Bonneauville. In January of 1995, he accepted the invitation to be Chaplain at Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa, California. He served as Staff Chaplain and Director of Pastoral Care until his retirement on November 1, 2006. Upon his return to the Diocese, he lived at Sacred Heart Parish in Lancaster. On March 16, 2008, he returned to the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Danville.

Father Heintzelman’s appointments of ministry and service were celebrated with a Golden Jubilee Mass in 2014 by Bishop Ronald Gainer in the Basilica in Danville. In this period of ministry, Father Heintzelman also served as Chaplain to the Diocesan Nurse’s Guild.

He is survived by three nephews, Leo Sekulski and his wife Elizabeth of Lewisburg, Chuck Sekulski and his wife Connie of Northumberland, Jim Sekulski of Northumberland; two nieces, Ann Boyer of Northumberland and Jane Ritter and her husband Ken of Kutztown. Several great-nieces and great-nephews survive as well as great-great-nieces and great-great-nephews.

He was preceded in death by one sister, Rita E. Sekulski; and one brother, Daniel Heintzelman.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Thursday, June 13, at noon at the Basilica of Saints Cyril and Methodius, 1002 Railroad St., Danville, with Bishop Ronald Gainer as celebrant along with concelebrants, Father Patrick Divine, Father Valentine Anyanwu, Father Timothy Marcoe and Father Charles Ocul. Friends will be received from 10-11:45 a.m. at the Basilica. Burial will follow in All Saints Cemetery, Elysburg.

Memorial contributions may be made to Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius, 1002 Railroad St., Danville, PA 17821.

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