Father John Mergenhagen 1929-2021
Father John J. Mergenhagen, who had served the diocese, as well as Catholics across the globe, died Wednesday, June 16, 2021. He was 91.
Born July 14, 1929, in Buffalo to Walter and Mary McLean Mergenhagen, Father Mergenhagan attended Public School 68 and the Diocesan Preparatory Seminary. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from St. Bonaventure in 1951, and a master’s from Canisius College in Buffalo. He also too graduate classes at Fordham University in the Bronx, and the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. He attended Christ the King Seminary at St. Bonaventure.
He was ordained May 5, 1954 at St. Joseph Cathedral in Buffalo by Bishop Joseph Burke.
His early assignments took him to St. Jude Parish in Sardinia, St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Buffalo. From 1965-1974, he taught at the Diocesan Preparatory Seminary. In 1974, he was appointed to Catholic Relief Services and served as overseas Catholic relief worker for four years. Father Mergenhagen spent eight months in Vietnam and was one of the last Americans evacuated the night before the fall of Saigon. He continued working with CRS in Rome, Yemen, Indonesia and Haiti, where he worked with Mother Teresa.
In 1979, he served at the Center of Renewal at Stella Niagara. He conducted retreats across the diocese and throughout the United States and overseas. He had been associate director of the St. Columban Center in Derby when he retired from full-time duties in 1999.
He had been involved with Pax Christi, War Resistance League, Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, and Fellowship of Reconciliation.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Infant of Prague Church, 921 Cleveland Drive, Cheektowaga, on Tuesday, June 22, at 9:30 a.m., with Bishop Michael Fisher as main celebrant.