On Sept. 28, 2011, Father Severin Messick, O.S.B. age 57, monk and priest of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, died peacefully in the Lord, after struggling eight months with cancer and the consequent chemotherapy. Father Severin was born in Indianapolis, Ind., on July 12, 1954, to Henry and Anna (McGuire) Messick, and was given the name Mark Stephen at his baptism.
After completing his elementary education at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Indianapolis, he attended Chatard High School in that city. Father Severin entered Saint Meinrad College in 1973, graduating four years later with a B.A. degree in the Classics. He was invested as a novice in 1977, and professed his simple vows on August 6, 1978. Father Severin was ordained to the priesthood on May 2, 1982.
After his ordination, Father Severin completed a year of graduate studies in classics at The Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Following this, in the late summer of 1983, he was assigned to teach at Trinity High School in Whitesville, Kentucky, in the Diocese of Owensboro. Also at this time he was named associate pastor of St. Mary-of-the-Woods Parish in Whitesville, the first of many parish assignments Father Severin would fulfill in three dioceses.
In 1985, Father became associate pastor of St. Ann Parish, Morganfield, Ky. The following year he was called to service in the Diocese of Evansville, and so ministered to the people of St. Mary Parish, Huntingburg, Ind., for six years. He returned to the Diocese of Owensboro and to his former parish of St. Ann in 1992, where he exercised his first pastor-ship. In 1996 he moved into the Archdiocese of Indianapolis as co-pastor of a three-parish cluster in Southern Ind., composed of St. Paul’s (Tell City), St. Michael’s (Cannelton), and St. Pius V (Troy). The following year he was named administrator of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus (Little Flower) in Indianapolis. In 1998, he began his longest pastoral assignment; pastor of St. Michael’s in Greenfield, Ind., the parish he tended faithfully until his death. While serving in that capacity, Father served also as Judge of the Metropolitan Tribunal for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis for nearly seven years.
Although Father Severin spent most of his monastic life in parish ministry, he was proud of his confreres and his monastery. A caring and loving pastor, he was quick to share his love of the priesthood with the young people in his parish. On more than one occasion he traveled the considerable distance from his parish in Greenfield to Saint Meinrad with carloads of kids in tow, delighted in giving them a personal tour of the Archabbey Church, the seminary, and the grounds.
Father Severin accepted his cancer with a spirit that could only have been of—and sustained by—God. When he was diagnosed in Jan., 2011, he knew that long-term survival would be a long shot. Yet, no matter the odds and the painful twists and turns, Father Severin fought the good fight and ran the good race. Whenever he reported on his worsening condition, he did so with a calm voice and a trusting heart in God’s unsearchable ways. Father Severin required extensive care in his final weeks, but caretakers from his parish were never in short supply—an indication of the concern and affection his people had for him. Whenever these people were thanked for their loyal service to Father during the many months of his illness, they made it clear that “it was an honor to have an opportunity to care for one who had been so caring of us.”
Shortly after Father Severin had been diagnosed, the schoolchildren of his parish presented him with a prayer and a promise. Their prayer for him would be, in their words, “everywhere, every day.” They took the promise from the words written by Saint James in his first chapter,
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” Father Severin persevered, and in so doing he inspired the many who stood with him through his trials. May he now wear the victor’s crown with all the saints!
Father Severin is survived by his mother, Anna of Greenfield; his sister-in-law, Suzanna of Indianapolis; two nieces, Michelle (Steve) Johnson of Carmel and Cynthia (Scott) Lee of Indianapolis, two great nieces, 1 great nephew and one great great-niece.
Visitation will be in the church at St. Michael’s in Greenfield from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011, with the Rosary at 4 p.m. and the Vigil Prayer Service at 7 p.m. (also in the church). There will be a memorial Mass at St. Michael’s at a later date. Arrangements have been entrusted to Stillinger Family Funeral Home, Pasco Chapel of Greenfield.
The Office of the Dead will be prayed at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 3, 2011, in the Archabbey Church. The Funeral Liturgy will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011, in the Archabbey Church. Burial will follow in the Archabbey Cemetery. For the repose of his soul, three Masses will be offered by each monk of the Archabbey. The customary suffrages are recommended to all monks of our Congregation.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorial contributions be sent to: St. Michael’s Catholic Church, 519 Jefferson Blvd, Greenfield, IN 46140 or Saint Meinrad Archabbey, 200 Hill Drive, St. Meinrad, IN 47577.
Online condolences may be shared at www.stillingerfamilyfuneralhome.com