1899 – 1991 (July 19)
Raymond John Stengel was born on November 25, 1899 in Reading, Pennsylvania, the youngest son of Henry Stengel and Katherine Ernst. He was baptized on December 10, 1899 at Saint Paul's Church, the German-speaking parish in Reading. Shortly after his birth his mother died. His father, unable to raise the three children, placed his oldest son, Charles Edward, who eventually became a member of the Order in the Midwest Province, and his sister Helen in the care of relatives in Reading. Young Raymond was raised by the Reichart family in Bally, Pennsylvania.
Raymond’s education began with grammar school at Englesville, PA, which he attended from 1905 to 1913. He applied to the Province’s preparatory school on the campus of Villanova College, but poor health delayed his acceptance until 1917. He graduated in June of 1920 and a year later, June 25, 1921, he was accepted as a novice at Villanova. He professed simple vows on June 26, 1922, and three years later, June 26, 1925, he pronounced solemn vows. In 1924 he graduated from Villanova with an A.B. degree and began his theological studies. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Michael Crane in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia on June 11, 1927.
Father Stengel's first assignment, in 1928, was to Saint Mary's Church in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where he was placed in charge of the German-speaking Assumption Church, a mission of Saint Mary's. Eventually he was named administrator, and in 1946, when the church was set up as a separate parish, he was named its first pastor. In this first assignment, Father Stengel gave evidence of his organizational skills and his ability for implementation. In 1953, he was assigned to Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Parish, Bronx, New York, as pastor and prior of the religious community. He oversaw the construction of a boys high school and a new friary. In 1959, he was transferred to Saint James Church, Carthage, New York, as pastor and prior. There he completed the construction of a new grade school. In 1965 he returned to Lawrence as pastor of Saint Laurence O'Toole Parish, where he refurbished the lower church, installed a new lighting system in the upper church and restored the pulpit to its place in the sanctuary. In 1968 a fire destroyed the grade school at Saint Mary's Church in Lawrence. Father Stengel was named pastor and immediately began construction of a new grade school which opened in September of 1971. That same year he was appointed prior of the community at Saint Joseph's Church, Greenwich, New York. In 1973 Father Stengel retired to Our Mother of Good Counsel Monastery on the campus of Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts. In 1984 he took up residence at Saint Thomas Monastery on the campus of Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania.
Despite his many accomplishments during his 64 year as a priest and almost 70 as a religious, Father Stengel remained a very quiet gentle man, reluctant to take credit for his years of active ministry. He endured in silence and with great patience his last years as illness forced him to become an invalid. Early in the morning of July 19, he died as he had lived, quietly and peacefully, in his room at the monastery.
A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated in the Chapel of Saint Mary's Hall, Tuesday, June 23. The celebrant was the Prior Provincial, Father John Hagen, O.S.A, assisted by Father John Burkhart, O.S.A. and Ronald Scheible, O.S.A., nephews of Father Stengel. The homilist for the Mass was Father Ralph Shurer, O.S.A.
Father Stengel is buried in the Augustinian plot at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.