Fr. Michael Peltzer dies April 9 at age 70

Bishop Carl A. Kemme blesses the body of Fr. Michael Peltzer at his funeral on Tuesday, April 16, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. (Advance photo)

Bishop Carl A. Kemme expressed his deep and profound gratitude at Fr. Michael Peltzer’s funeral for the way he persevered as a priest, joining his infirmities and sufferings with those of Christ.

“His priestly life and service was marked by disability and challenging health, especially in the past several years,” the bishop said, “which forced him to surrender his beloved parish of St. Joan of Arc in Harper County, which he served nevertheless with grace and dignity for 20 years. He received this transition with obedience and humble willingness, serving as chaplain for a few years the Carmelite Sisters before they departed our diocese.”

Fr. Pelzer was a priest of the Diocese of Wichita for nearly 44 years.

Speaking from his cathedra Tuesday, April 16, the bishop said in his homily that there is sadness in parting. “We nevertheless express a gratitude for the gift and blessing of the one we come to pray for as they leave this life and go beyond our sight, entering eternity.”

Fr. Peltzer, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita for nearly 44 years, died April 9 at age 70.

Bishop Kemme said diocesan history, that he regularly wrote about in the Catholic Advance, was Fr. Peltzer’s greatest joy.

“How often, many people shared with me that they loved to read his historical articles – and I did as well. Never infrequently, he would regale us at the Priest Retirement Center with historical facts and details about bishops and priests, parishes, and religious orders; it was almost as if he were there when these interesting events and happenings took place, the sign, I think, of a true historian.”

A love for religious sisters

Fr. Peltzer also had a great love for religious sisters, the bishop said, especially the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters of Wichita. “I’m sure he is smiling now when I mention how much he cherished his collection of religious sisters, dare I say dolls, dressed in their various habits, that reminded him of the great gift religious women are to the church.”
But it was the altar and the confessional that fueled his life as a priest, Bishop Kemme said.

“There he was Alter Christus, another Christ, who in greater and greater measures shared in the passion of Christ, who sacrificed himself for our salvation. Father Michael understood, perhaps more than most, the identity of Christ, the Suffering Servant, who offered his own disability, along with his struggles in poor health, which increased in greater measure in the last several years of his life. He offered this and the many other burdens he quietly and invisibly shouldered in his life with the bread and wine at the altar each day, a sacrifice that God accepted and received with a Father’s love.”

A connection to St. John Vianney

Fr. Peltzer was born on Aug. 4, 1953, on the feast day of St. John Marie Vianney, the patron of priests, who died on that day 94 years before. “I think Father Michael would be pleased if we recognized the historical connection of those dates.”

Bishop Kemme shared how St. John Vianney “lived his priesthood in a most intense and radical way, spending his entire strength in service to the people entrusted to his pastoral and sacramental care. He also suffered greatly in his ministry, often by his own choices of penance and mortification.”

“I invite us to think now of Fr. Peltzer as well as any other priest who comes to mind and who has left their long-lasting mark on us in our spiritual journey as I conclude my homily for this funeral Mass for our beloved priest with these words of the Holy Cure of Ars,” he said.

Priests make many contributions

The bishop then talked about the many contributions a priest makes in his life by confecting the Eucharist and administering the other sacraments.

You cannot recall one single blessing from God without finding, side by side with this recollection, the image of the priest.

“The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus,” Bishop Kemme said. “When you see the priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you, Father Michael Peltzer, for loving us with the love of the heart of Jesus. May you rest now from all your labors in that eternal dwelling, where your heart and his will be forever one.”

Fr. Peltzer’s full obituary

Fr. Michael Peltzer died Tuesday, April 9. He was 70 years old.

A rosary was prayed at 7 p.m. Monday, April 15, at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Wichita. A funeral Mass was celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. Graveside services followed at 1:30 p.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Andale.

Harry Michael Peltzer was born on Aug. 4, 1953, in Omaha, Nebraska. His family moved to Andale when he was a few weeks old, and later to Wichita, where he attended Christ the King and St. Francis of Assisi schools. After graduating from Bishop Carroll Catholic High School in 1971, he attended Kansas Newman College before entering St. Pius X Seminary in Erlanger, Kentucky. After completing his theological studies at Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, he was ordained by Bishop David Maloney on May 10, 1980, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.

First served at St. Pat’s in Wichita

Fr. Peltzer served as an associate pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Wichita until Aug. 29, 1984, when he was named an associate at Christ the King Parish in Wichita. On Feb. 10, 1987, he was named the pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Eureka, St. John in Hamilton, and St. Teresa of Avila in Madison. While at Eureka, he helped oversee the construction of a new parish hall, which was completed in 1993.

He also served as the moderator of the Padilla Club for Catholic singles and was on the diocesan Centennial Committee in 1986-87. It was during that time he and his mother co-authored the commemorative book on the history of the Diocese of Wichita.

Father was named as the pastor of the newly-formed St. Joan of Arc Parish in Harper County on Aug. 3, 1998. The three churches, St. Patrick in Harper, Immaculate Conception in Danville, and Sacred Heart in Anthony composed St. Joan of Arc Parish and remained open as worship sites.

Retirement in 2020

After 20 years in Harper County, Fr. Peltzer found it necessary to request semi-retirement, with residence at the Priest Retirement Center in Wichita. While there he was appointed as chaplain for the nearby Discalced Community of Carmelites, while serving as historian for the diocese. After the nuns left the diocese in 2019, Father retired on June 4, 2020, continuing his work as the diocesan historian.

Fr. Peltzer is preceded in death by his parents, Dr. William and Mary K. Peltzer; and a sister, Heidi Marie Peltzer. He is survived by his brother, Christopher; a sister and brother-in-law, Theresa and Michael Elpers; a niece, Tara (Carlos) Munoz; nephews, Jacob (Katie) Elpers, Jesse (Emilie) Elpers, Issac Elpers and fiancé, Elizabeth Mick, and Jack Nowlin; great-nieces and great-nephews, Diego and Ignacio Munoz, Elizabeth, Rebekah, Isabelle and Cecilia Elpers, and Murphy Elpers.