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    Our dear departed

    Joseph Smits

    Joseph Smits

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    Vincent Van MeelJoseph Smits

    (1929 – 2023)


    Born in Zutendaal, Belgium on December 6, 1929
    First Vows on September 8, 1951
    Ordained a Priest on August 5, 1956
    Missionary in the Philippines and the United States
    Died in Arlington, Virginia, USA on December 31, 2023, at the age of 94.

    On December 31, 2023, the US Province again mourned deeply the death of a highly respected and revered confrere, Joseph Bosmans Smits. He was born on December 6, 1929, in Zutendaal, Belgium, in the deep farming region of Limburg, whose Flemish people are known for their kindness, warm-heartedness, and profound Catholic faith. The memory of his farming youth always gave him joy and a warm emotional connection to his family roots. He also profoundly admired his older brother, Lambert, who was a magnificent CICM Missionary in the Philippines and to the Filipino community in the greater Detroit area. Thus, Joe also decided to be a CICM Missionary.

    Joseph entered the novitiate on September 8, 1950, and made his First Profession of Vows on September 8, 1951, and Perpetual Vows on September 8, 1955, and was finally ordained on August 5, 1956. He was first assigned to the Philippines, where he labored for several years at the minor seminary of Our Lady of Guadalupe from 1957 to 1966.

    He was then assigned to teach Religion and Algebra at Archbishop Wood High School from 1966 to 1974. Eventually, he initiated studies Counseling, earning a Certificate in Competence in Family Therapy and a Master of Arts degree (Education) at Villanova University on December 20, 1968. Then, he served as a counsellor to the Sisters of Good Shepherd from 1975-1987. For ten years, he was Chaplain to the student body at Gwynedd Mercy College from 1987-1998. Throughout all these years, he continued to conduct family therapy with 10-12 appointments a week. On August 10, 2016, he retired to Dominion House at 86.

    On his 50th Anniversary in the Priesthood, he wrote a beautiful, heartfelt, profound, honest reflection on his life and its relationship to God, others, and himself. The following words wonderfully summarize his Christian pastoral ethos and provide a glimpse into his heart and soul: “It becomes clear that if God’s Son became human, our first task in life is to become totally human. That, I believe, is the great task for all of us. So, for the last 30 years, I have given my best to help people search for more sense and deeper happiness in their lives and their relationships. To discover that the best things in life are not things but the qualities of the heart: tenderness, forgiveness, compassion, intimacy, goodness. I talk every Sunday about God and what it means to be human. Today, I told you a little of my own story. I have become old, and when my end comes, I shall approach it trembling and nervous, no doubt. Still, I hope, reassured, and at peace as I tell the story of my life to the only one who can truly understand today, this Eucharist is, singularly, what the Word means: thanksgiving. I give thanks to God for giving me your love. Thanks to our Lady for teaching me how to listen. Thanks to each of you for showing me, in your lives, the faces of Jesus.”

    May he rest in peace, and as he constantly repeated as a mantra to console others, “Be good to yourself.”

    ~ Ricardo Terga            §