September 29: Bishop Eugene J. Gerber


September 29, 2018

Bishop Eugene J. Gerber

Bishop Emeritus Eugene J. Gerber, the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Wichita died Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018 in Wichita. He was 87. He was the son of Cornelius and Lena Gerber, was a native of St. Louis parish, Kingman County, Kansas where he was born on April 30, 1931. He received his elementary education at St. Louis School in Waterloo, Kansas, and pursued his secondary education at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Conception, Missouri, and at Kingman High School, Kansas. His college studies were completed at Wichita State University and Conception Seminary, Missouri. Bishop Gerber pursued philosophical and theological studies at St. Thomas Seminary, Denver, Colorado, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts, a master of arts in religious education, and earned a bachelor of sacred theology through affiliation of the seminary with Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.

Ordained in 1959

Bishop Gerber was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, on May 19, 1959. He served as parochial vicar in the Wichita parishes of St. Anne and Church of the Magdalen until May 31, 1963. During these assignments, he also pursued further studies at Wichita State University to obtain a bachelor of arts in education, which he received in June, 1963. He did his student teaching at Kapaun Memorial High School, served on the faculty of Mt. Carmel Academy, and was appointed to the first faculty of Notre Dame (now Bishop Carroll Catholic High School) as guidance director and instructor in religion and mathematics.

Worked for the Catholic Advance in 1967

Later in 1963, Bishop Gerber was appointed assistant chancellor. The following year, he was named as secretary to Bishop Leo C. Byrne. He was named vice chancellor in 1965 and became business manager of the Catholic Advance in 1967. In 1969, he was named to the Governing Board of the Holy Family Center for the mentally disabled. Four years later in 1973, Bishop Gerber was appointed chancellor of the diocese. During these diocesan assignments, he was associate pastor in residence at Holy Savior, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Mary Cathedral, all in Wichita. Continuing as chancellor, on Aug. 16, 1973, he was named pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church, Wichita, where he served until August 1975.

Studies in Rome In 1975, Bishop Gerber pursued studies at the Angelicum (St. Thomas Pontifical University) in Rome, where he earned a Licentiate in Sacred Theology. In 1976 he was appointed as chaplain to the Sisters of St. Joseph at Mount St. Mary’s Motherhouse and as vicar for religious in the Diocese of Wichita.

He was appointed bishop of Dodge City October 16, 1976, ordained Dec. 14, 1976, and installed Dec. 15, 1976. Six years later, he was appointed bishop of Wichita on Nov. 23, 1982. He was installed on Feb. 9, 1983. After 16 years of dedicated and untiring episcopal ministry, Bishop Gerber received Coadjutor Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted in April 1999 to assist him in the care of the diocese and prepare a smooth transition of episcopal leadership. He resigned as the ordinary of the diocese and entered retirement on Oct. 4, 2001. After his resignation, he served as chaplain to the Discalced Carmelite Sisters and as a spiritual director, especially for priests. Ancillary appointments While bishop, he served on the National Council of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), now known as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB); the Ad Hoc Committee for Parish Renewal; the NCCB Committee on the Permanent Diaconate; two terms on the Administrative Board of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, representing Region IX; the NCCB Liaison Committee with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR); the Communications Committee; the Pastoral Research and Practices Committee; the Liaison Committee with NC News; the NCCB Pro-Life Committee; Committee for Women in Society and the Church; and the Ad Hoc Committee on Stewardship. Locally, Bishop Gerber served on the Board of Directors for the Wichita Urban League, the Board of Via Christi Health Systems, HopeNet, Kansas Foodbank Warehouse, Inc., Wichita Grand Opera, and at Newman University. .