Five Viatorian Educators Celebrate 60 years in Religious Life
July 2012

On February 2, 1952 Br. Donald Houde, CSV, and Fr. Daniel Mirabelli, CSV, were the first Viatorians to pronounce their vows in Arlington Heights.  At that time, the novitiate was temporarily located in what is now the sisters’ convent.  The chapel was in the large glassed-in porch at the front of the building while the “new” novitiate building (now the Province Center) was under construction.

Eight years later, Fr. Mirabelli was assigned to be teacher and business manager at Saint Viator High School in Arlington Heights.  He served in that role until 1966 when he as assigned to Alleman High School in Rock Island, IL, where he has served for 46 years in different roles; teacher of history and sociology, business manager, chaplain, and currently the director of development.  Many affectionately call him Mr. Alleman High School because of the enthusiasm and spirit he brings to his work.

After all these years, he says, “What I have been able to accomplish in my ministry, I credit to the Viatorians who were role models during the early years of my formation.  They made me into the priest I am today.   I am especially thankful to Father Powers who was my superior during seminary years.”

Br. Houde began his career as educator at Spalding Institute in Peoria in 1957 where he served as teacher of English until 1967.  From there he traveled   to Ampleforth College in York, England, where he was teacher of English and religion.  He spent the next year at Griffin High School in Springfield.  After that, he began many years in educational administration.  He was assistant principal at Alleman High School, principal at Spalding Institute and associate principal at Saint Viator High School.

From 1979 until 1998 he served as an administrator in the Office of Catholic Education for the Archdiocese of Chicago.  Today he remembers: “When we entered the community, we heard over and over that our goal was to be teachers of Christian Doctrine and servers of the Holy Altar.  Doing that has given me a full and interesting life.”  Since retirement Brother Houde has kept very busy being a “servant of the holy altar” at St. Josaphat parish in Chicago, where he serves as sacristan and as a consultant to the church’s environment and art.

Fathers John Linnan, CSV, John Milton, CSV, and James Michaletz, CSV, pronounced their first vows on September 8, 1952 in the chapel of the newly completed novitiate building.

All three earned great respect as educators in their fields of study and as ministers of the Gospel.  Fr. Linnan earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy from Georgetown University in Washington, DC and his doctorate in sacred theology from Louvain University in Belgium.  Most of his career was spent teaching at the Viatorian Seminary, the Washington Theological Union, and the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.   In addition to his teaching at Catholic Theological Union, he served as its president from 1981 until 1987.

Fr. Linnan’s curriculum vitae is a thick documentation of jobs, lectures, directing retreats, pastoral assignments, and travels.  Viatorian Associate, Patty Wischnowski, says, “When I think of Jack Linnan, I think of a holy man who loves his church so deeply while seeing its strengths and weaknesses.  He has a wonderful sense of humor and an appreciation of the world about us.”

Father Milton earned his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering at Fournier Institute.  His Master of Science degree is in physics from St. Louis University where he also did his postgraduate work.

He taught at Cathedral Boys High School in Springfield, at Spalding Institute, and Bishop McNamara High School in Kankakee, but most of his secondary teaching was his 20 years at Saint Viator High School.  He then spent 20 more years teaching physics at DePaul University in Chicago and all the while continued to be an enthusiastic resource person to high school science teachers in the Chicago area.

For many years Fr. Milton was a regular celebrant of Sunday liturgies at St. Zachary Parish in DesPlaines and facilitator for small prayer groups in the Northwest Suburbs.  When reflecting on his 60 years as a Viatorian, he says: “I appreciate the emphasis in our formation years on Fr. Querbes’ encouragement to cultivate an ordinary spirituality and to be prepared for and engaged in both educational and parochial ministries.

During my lifetime, I have seen our church and community embrace and try to implement the vision of the Second Vatican Council, though not without challenge and difficulty.  The implementation of Fr. Querbes’ inclusive model −clerics and associates− has enabled us to share in his original dream on its way to fulfillment.  I believe we are called to live the years ahead in a spirit of hope.”

Another Viatorian celebrating 60 years who has a background in the sciences is Fr. Michaletz.  He holds a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering, a Masters degree in organic chemistry and a PhD in education administration.  Among the assignments he has had over the years include: principal of Saint Viator High School; assistant superintendent of schools, Archdiocese of Chicago; and director of education, Diocese of Springfield, IL.

Most of his career has been focused on leadership, the topic of his doctoral thesis.  He is known for his effectiveness in giving direction to board members in their leadership roles.  He has served as teacher and administrator at all levels of education and he himself has served on many boards.  For a time, he was chairman of the board of the Catholic Theological Union.  He was also a board member of Provena St. Mary’s Hospital in Kankakee and is currently a board member of Saint Viator High School.

After so many years, he writes: “I have been very thankful that I have been chosen to be a Viatorian and that sense of gratitude has always been paramount in my life.  God has been good to me in so many ways and I will never cease thanking God for the ways I have been graced and blessed.”

– Br. Donald Houde, CSV