Father William Westhoven, C.P., Holy Cross Province (1895-1990)

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Born September 2, 1895 in Liberty Center, Ohio, he was the son of Joseph Westhoven and Elizabeth Connolly. After schooling in Liberty Center he went to St. Joseph’s College, Renssalear, Indiana operated by the Society of the Precious Blood. After completing the two year course he returned to his home area to become a teacher. While teaching in the area the local pastor asked him to drive two Passionist missionaries who were giving a parish mission. One was Father Harold Purcell, C.P. who eventually founded Sign Magazine. The other was Father Henry Miller, C.P. The pastor asked Bill Westhoven if he could help the two priests find a place where they could preach to non-Catholics. No one was open to the idea, but finally an old hall was found. It was during that experience that he began to contemplate religious life. He professed his vows on February 20, 1917 and was ordained on December 22, 1923. His class consisted of sixteen priests. Volunteers were asked to go to China and Father Westhoven was one of four chosen. He spent twenty-five years in China. He was superior of the mission in Hunan when the three priests were killed in April 1929 and one priest died of typhoid. In the early 1950s he returned from China after house arrest by the Communists and solitary confinement. During this time he relied a great deal upon his devotion to the Blessed Mother. Some days he said around 25 rosaries in order to keep up his sanity. He also kept up a great devotion to St. Joseph as well and this was most meaningful for him when he was released on the feast of St. Joseph-March 19. Upon his return to Detroit, Michigan he became a popular speaker in parishes and Knights of Columbus. In the process he almost exhausted himself. He would get very emotional during a lecture and had a strong desire to go back. For one year he was a retreat master at the Detroit retreat house when the monastery was being used for that ministry. When he preached you could hear his voice throughout the entire monastery. He then moved to Sierra Madre, California where it is reported that he preached 792 sermons in one year. The next year he was back in Detroit as retreat director. After four years in that capacity he spent two years giving retreats in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines, Japan and Korea. His last years were spent in Detroit and then Daneo Hall in Chicago, Illinois.

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