Father Eustace Eilers, C.P., Holy Cross Province (1902-1957)

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Born Gustave Eilers on November 29, 1902 in Louisville, Kentucky, he was the son of Ahlrich Eilers and Anna Schindler Eilers. He attended grade school at St Francis, Louisville. In 1917 his family moved to Deadwood, South Dakota where he completed high school and was employed by Western Union. In 1920 he entered the Passionist Preparatory Seminary, Cincinnati, Ohio. That same year the Preparatory Seminary was transferred to Our Lady of Good Counsel Retreat, Normandy, Missouri. In 1921 he entered the Passionist novitiate in Louisville, Kentucky. On September 15, 1922 he professed his Passionist vows. His religious name was Eustace. He studied at Cincinnati. On December 22, 1929 he was ordained by Bishop Drumm at St. Ambrose Cathedral, Des Moines, Iowa. He was director of students at the Passionist Seminary, Normandy from 1931 until 1935. In 1935 he was transferred to Chicago, Illinois where he was secretary to Provincial Boniface Fielding, C.P. until 1938. That year he was elected rector of St. Paul of the Cross Monastery, Detroit, Michigan due to the fact that Father Edwin Ronan had left the position in order to assume his ministry as head of the chaplain corps in the Philippines. This was at the personal request of President Quezon. In 1944 Father Eilers was a member of Mater Dolorosa Retreat, Sierra Madre, California and in 1946 was assigned as the assistant pastor of St. Rita’s Parish, Sierra Madre. He was there until 1947 when he was assigned to Holy Family Parish, Ensley, Alabama where he was stationed until April 20, 1950. He had an interest in the high school there and the Holy Family Hospital so as to reach out to the needs of Black Catholics. The hospital was dedicated on January 10, 1953. Through his efforts, and others, donations came from the Community Chest Agencies. He was also able to gain the support of non-Catholic, Mr. Louis Putz. At the dedication, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Kentucky assumed responsibility for the hospital. On April 20, 1950 he was transferred to Holy Cross Monastery, Cincinnati where he was a preacher. From 1951 until 1952 he was conducting lay retreats at Citrus Heights, California. In 1953 he became a member of the Des Moines, Iowa community. Present at the hospital dedication in 1953, he then went on to a retreat a Houston, Texas where he was hospitalized with a heart condition. This remained with him. He then returned to Des Moines. In January 1955 he was assigned to Ensley, Alabama in order to conduct mission appeal work. He did this until March 1957. When en route to his assignment in Detroit he was stricken in Louisville.