Fr. Alan Syslo, CSV, spent 66 years in the Viatorian Community, and 58 years as a priest. He passed away Sunday, at the age of 84, and those he served are remembering him fondly.
Take his last assignment as Associate Pastor of St. Thomas Catholic Community in Henderson, NV. He was there just three years, from 2016-2019, but parishioners still remember him and his dog, Kona, and just how approachable he was.
“People enjoyed his homilies and found him very approachable,” says Fr. Robert M. Egan, CSV, who was pastor at the time. “Al had genuine pastoral instincts and he would often be seen sitting on the bench outside the church, engaged in conversation with whomever came to pay a visit in the church.”
Staff members at St. Thomas More agreed, saying on the parish’s Facebook page: “We all loved Fr. Alan and we remember him as one of the gentlest and kindest human beings! He loved our Life Teen Program and always donated his own money toward retreats because he was so impressed with our young people.”
Fr. Syslo brought a variety of experience to his pastoral role. Since professing his first vows, his assignments took him from teaching roles at Saint Viator High School and the former Spalding Institute in Peoria, to the West coast and the Las Vegas area, where he ministered to those suffering with HIV/Aids and veterans with post traumatic stress syndrome.
“Reflecting on the past 60 years, I see three events that have had a great impact on my life,” Fr. Al said at his 60th jubilee celebration as a Viatorian, in 2018. “The first was being involved in the lives of persons suffering and dying from AIDS. The second was learning and helping veterans being affected with post traumatic stress syndrome. The third is an ever growing knowledge and deeper appreciation of the liturgy, both in the Word and in the Eucharist.”
During his retirement years at the Viatorian Province Center in Arlington Heights, Fr. Syslo enjoyed being reunited with some of his Viatorian confreres, especially Fr. John Van Wiel, CSV, whom he had attended the seminary with, as well as having the ability to walk the extensive grounds at the Province Center.
Still, in thinking of Fr. Syslo, two words kept coming to mind: Kind and gentle.
“He was the kindest man I ever met,” Br. John Eustice, CSV, said of Fr. Syslo.
Br. Peter Lamick, CSV, agreed, adding: “He was just a gentle soul.”
Visitation for Fr. Syslo will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday at the Province Center followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. He will be interred alongside of his Viatorian confreres at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, IL