Redemptorist Father Vincent H. Aggeler, 87, a Clifton City native who had served for 46 years as a missionary in the Amazon River Valley in Brazil, died peacefully on March 13.
The Mass of Christian Burial was to be celebrated on March 18 in St. Joseph Church in Clifton City.
He was born on Oct. 31, 1932, in Pilot Grove, the first of 10 children of Hubert “Buddy” and Bernice Anna (Schuster) Aggeler.
Young Vincent wanted to follow his uncle, Father Philip Aggeler, into the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, also known as the Redemptorist Fathers.
After attending St. Martin School in Martinsville, he went to St. Joseph College Prep High School Seminary in Kirkwood, followed by novitiate in DeSoto, where he professed first vows in 1953.
He studied philosophy and theology at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.
There, on June 24, 1958, Archbishop Albert G. Meyer of Milwaukee ordained him to the Holy Priesthood.
Fr. Aggeler offered his First Solemn Mass in St. Joseph Church in Clifton City — “most likely the greatest event this little town ever had!” according to relatives.
He ministered at St. Alphonsus “Rock” Church in St. Louis for two years, studied Portuguese at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and was missioned to Brazil in 1960.
The overwhelming majority of his parishioners there were poor and barely surviving on the money they took home.
In his preaching, he challenged the people and social structures that allowed such poverty and disparities to exist.
“I ask them, ‘How can you call yourselves Catholic when there is so much poverty, misery and injustice?’” he stated in a 1983 interview with The Catholic Missourian.
Over time, as the Brazilian government stepped-up its support of education and healthcare for the people, the Redemptorist missionaries’ focus turned more toward helping people, rich and poor, form small Christian communities.
“Through the small communities and motivated by Gospel values, we hope that the people will better their own lives,” Fr. Aggeler stated in 1983. “I always underscore the importance of being motivated by Gospel values; otherwise, we just have a co-op.”
On mission at home
Health issues brought Fr. Aggeler back to the United States in 2006. He remained confident that his experiences in the rainforests and river valleys of Brazil had helped make him a better priest.
Known at home and abroad for his succinct preaching style, he continued his missionary work with his many Facebook friends throughout the world.
He was stationed for a while at Redemptorist parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Kansas City and filled-in for priests in several dioceses.
He moved in 2008 to the Redemptorist Health and Retirement Facility in Liguori, where he enjoyed great community life.
He was an adept photographer and often shared his pictures online. He liked woodworking, and many a child has a jewelry or treasure box that he painted especially for them.
He always had a little joke to lighten the day of all he met.
He had a great love for the Blessed Mother and made and gave away many rosaries.
He died peacefully, surrounded by his Redemptorist Community at St. Clement Health Care/Retirement Center in Liguori.
With the sign of faith
Preceding him in death were his parents; a sister, Maureen Ruth Aggeler; and a brother, Ted Ray Aggeler, who died at birth; and three nieces/nephews.
Surviving are four brothers: Donald Aggeler, Harold (Charleen) Aggeler, Lyle (Carolyn) Aggeler and Ted (Vicky) Aggeler; three sisters: Juanita (Don) Klein, Phyllis White and Marilyn (David) Felten.
Also surviving are 32 nieces and nephews, and many great-nieces and great-nephews.
Burial was to be in St Joseph Cemetery near Clifton City.
Memorial contributions may be sent to St. Clement Health Center, 300 Liguori Drive, Liguori, MO 63057.