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Treasures from Archives: Father Goossens

Rev. Emile J. Goossens

In one of my recent forays in the stacks of Archives, I stumbled upon a unique item. In an archival box marked chaplains I discovered a black leather wallet in the file of the late Father Emile J. Goossens. No, there wasn’t any money, but there was a wonderful pin — a little tarnished — marked Chaplain, St. Mary’s Fire Dept.

Father Goossens was named the Congregation’s chaplain in 1941. He was born May 11, 1903, in Hartford City, Ind., and was ordained on May 28, 1928, in St. Meinrad, Ind. Prior to coming to the Woods, Father Goossens served the Church in Indiana in Indianapolis, Boonville, Linton and Evansville.

Besides his duties as chaplain, Father Goossens was responsible for teaching the young novices at the Woods Church history, religion and ethics. He also was involved in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Village. Realizing the great need for a local fire department, he found like-minded men in the Village. These men formed the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Fire & Safety Association in the summer of 1955. This association then sponsored the volunteer fire department that was incorporated in 1956. Father Goossens was named the chaplain of the department and received a pin indicating his position.

Unfortunately, Father Goossens left this world way too early. On the morning of Sept. 21, 1959, he suffered a heart attack in the sacristy of the church. Mother Gertrude Clare Owens in her letter circular to sisters described his death in this way: “With his unvarying promptitude and fidelity, Father Goossens came over as usual at six o’clock to distribute Holy Communion to the sick before saying the Community Mass. When the clock struck six, he was at the altar and apparently tried to open the Tabernacle, but as he said afterwards, he was dizzy and could not see. The Sisters at the altar railing waiting to receive Holy Communion and those in the church who noted the prolonged delay, thought he was having difficulty opening the Tabernacle door, until with hesitant step he left the sanctuary and did not return. In the sacristy he suffered an acute coronary attack. The nurses hastened to give every attention while awaiting the ambulance. …”

Father Goossens died early in the morning of Sept. 22, 1959, at St. Anthony Hospital in Terre Haute, Ind. The celebrant for his funeral Mass was his brother, the Very Rev. Msgr. Victor L. Goossens., pastor at St. Mary’s Church, Indianapolis. Father Goossens is buried in the convent cemetery.

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Connie McCammon

Connie McCammon worked in the communications office for the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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