Quincy News

Ostdiek, almost 97, plans on serving 'as long as I can'

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 12, 2019 12:01 am

QUINCY -- At the Rev. John Ostdiek's age, the obvious question is how much longer will he continue his duties as a Franciscan priest?

Make no mistake about it, Ostdiek, who will turn 97 on Aug. 27, is far from occupying any sort of rocking chair at the Holy Cross Friary at Quincy University.

"I feel blessed with the amount of education I have, and I feel I am a level-headed voice," he said.

But how much longer will he continue to serve both QU and the community?

"As I long as I can," Ostdiek said.

While Ostdiek may have officially "retired" when he was 90, he remains quite active. Ostdiek's 70-year anniversary as a Franciscan priest was acknowledged in June and will celebrate with QU at a Mass in late August.

"I'm a bridge from the old theology to the new," Ostdiek said. "The church is changing now, and it will continue to change."

Ostdiek, who said he knew early in life he wanted to enter the priesthood, has spent most of the past 59 years at QU in one position or another. He enjoyed a long teaching career at QU and has served in several administrative positions at the school.

Ostdiek still presides over Tuesday noon Mass at QU and writes the "Whispers in Life" column that runs in each issue of the Catholic Times. He also pens a weekly blog of short reflections.

Ostdiek, who has earned two bachelor's, two master's and two doctorate degrees, has been a valuable contributor to the community over the years. He was involved in research along the Mississippi River for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was chairman of the old Public Works Commission.

Born in south central Nebraska and growing up on the Great Plains, Ostdiek remembers the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

"In the mid-1930s, the dust storms would last for hours," he said. "The dust would even come into our house undereath the doors. We would be choking from the dust clouds in the room, which could be life-threatening."

In addition to all of his church-related work, Ostdiek enjoyed bowling and was active in that sport until his early 90s. He won 36 medals as a bowler and carried a 200-plus average that included four 300 games.

Ostdiek is also an emeritus professor of biology at QU.