Twelve years ago, Precious Blood Father Vincent Hoying asked the people of this diocese to pray “that I get to Heaven! ... But not just yet!”
Fr. Hoying, 90, died on Nov. 17 at St. Charles Center of the Missionary Society of the Precious Blood in Carthagena, Ohio.
He had served as pastor of the former Sacred Heart Parish in Sedalia from 1971-80 and as senior priest in residence there from 2003-08.
“It’s been a good ride,” he told a newspaper reporter in Sidney, Ohio, in 2018. “I was in the back seat and the Lord was the driver.”
The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Nov. 23 at St. Charles Center in Carthagena, followed by burial in the St. Charles Cemetery.
A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28, in the Sacred Heart Chapel in Sedalia.
Fr. Hoying is credited with shepherding Sacred Heart High School through its darkest hour.
The school’s east gymnasium has borne his name since 2008.
He was known for his compassion and his easy-going style, which helped him share the Good News with people who may not have otherwise been open to it.
“His smile could melt an iceberg,” said Precious Blood Father Mark Miller.
“Kindness and gentleness were his trademarks,” Donita Shipman stated on social media.
“So caring and kind. Never met a stranger,” said Tina Mattingly.
“His help and council changed my life,” said Doug Benitz.
“He was instrumental in helping me become Catholic,” stated Barbara Heer.
“He is the reason I joined the Church,” said Michelle Stangel Gardner.
“Glad to stay”
Fr. Hoying saw the Priesthood as “such a blessing.”
“It’s a privilege to be a part of so many people’s lives and to help people grow in their faith and on the road that leads to Heaven,” he told The Catholic Missourian in 2008.
He was born on Feb. 21, 1930, in Anna, Ohio, a son of Charles and Agnes (Heckman) Hoying.
His followed his older brother, the late Precious Blood Brother Norbert Hoying, into the religious congregation known as the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.
He went to high school at Brunnerdale Seminary in Canton, Ohio, graduated from St. Joseph’s College in Rennselaer, Ohio on Aug. 3, 1951, and made his temporary profession of vows on Sept. 8, 1952.
He spent most of his novitiate at St. Charles Seminary in Carthagena, where he also studied theology.
“At first, I didn’t have much of an interest in the Priesthood,” he recalled in 2008. “But as time went by, it was like, ‘If the Lord needs me, I’m glad to stay. If He wants me to be a priest, I’ll do it.’”
On June 1, 1958, in St. Charles Borromeo Chapel in Carthagena, Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy of Cincinnati ordained Fr. Hoying and 12 classmates to the Holy Priesthood.
He served in parish ministry in Detroit, Michigan, and Hazard, Kentucky, before joining the staff of the Precious Blood Vocation Office at Del Bufalo Seminary in Liberty, Missouri.
He remained friends with many of the priests and brothers who joined the congregation with his guidance and encouragement.
A great boss
Fr. Hoying didn’t think he was ready to lead a large parish when he was appointed pastor of Sacred Heart in 1971.
His provincial basically told him to “make a retreat and say ‘yes.’”
In Sedalia, he implemented some of the changes in parish governance called for by the Second Vatican Council.
He was pleased to find the parishioners supportive and very willing to pitch in and cooperate.
“In my third year, we added about 600 seats to our gym,” he recalled many years later. “And then in ‘77 and ‘78, we renovated the church, inside and outside. The people rolled up their sleeves and got the job done.”
When the sisters who taught at Sacred Heart School were reassigned, he insisted that the grade school and high school would remain open with lay teachers.
His passion and perseverance generated a renewed energy among the community and recommitment to Catholic education.
He also spent many hours visiting hospital residents and never seemed to tire of it.
“He was a chaplain at heart and would have gone to the hospital daily if others did not,” said Precious Blood Father James Betzen, who served with Fr. Hoying in Sedalia and later succeeded him as pastor.
Fr. Miller, who also returned to Sedalia as pastor, said Fr. Hoying reserved a special place in his heart for people who were suffering.
“Many times, he would be late for dinner because he found too many people to visit in the hospital that afternoon,” Fr. Miller recalled.
Patients and nurses — Catholics, non-Catholics and people of no faith at all — always warmed up when he arrived.
Fr. Miller often referred to him as “Boss.”
“Not because he was my pastor but because he lived his life with authenticity and integrity,” said Fr. Miller. “He was a great mentor of mine during my first six years of ordained ministry.”
“A good ride”
Fr. Hoying was reassigned to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1980.
He later served as a hospital chaplain in Cincinnati, followed by parish work in Centerville, Iowa, followed by a return to hospital chaplaincy in Toledo and Lima, Ohio.
He volunteered to come back to Sedalia in 2003 as senior associate priest in residence.
He enjoyed catching up with families from his days as pastor — and with their children and grandchildren.
He had a heart attack in 2007 and underwent triple-bypass surgery in Columbia. He spent seven weeks in cardiac rehab.
On doctor’s orders, he returned several months later to Carthagena, where the seminary he attended had been converted into a retirement home for priests.
“No amount of words can describe the many moments of joy and love that the parishioners have so readily showered upon me and the other priests who have served here beside me,” he stated at that time. “It has been a ‘good ride’ for me.”
He continued to minister as a substitute priest for local parishes and was even appointed chaplain for the Precious Blood Sisters of Dayton, Ohio, in 2009.
The Sacred Heart Foundation inducted him into the Sacred Heart Fall of Fame in 2018.
“Fr. Hoying, a beloved priest and pastor, made a profound impact on the Sacred Heart community,” the foundation stated at that time. “His dedication to the longevity of Sacred Heart School and its community is remembered by those who knew him.”
He kept serving the Precious Blood Community and the Church until only a few months before his death.
“Fr. Vince Charming”
Dr. Mark Register, president of Sacred Heart School, said Fr. Hoying’s gentle nature and consistently nurturing ministry served as a spiritual lifeline for thousands of Pettis County Catholics.
“He was a true ‘God send’ to parishioners and school children alike,” said Dr. Register. “He will be missed but never, ever forgotten at Sacred Heart School.”
Debbie Bolin, a lifelong Sedalia parishioner and longtime campus minister at the school, was fond of calling him “Fr. Vince Charming.”
“You never could say ‘no’ to that sweet man,” she stated. “He could see more in you than you could ever see in yourself.”
She remembers how he prayed over her at a parish picnic before she went away to college.
After she graduated, he convinced her to come back to Sacred Heart to teach religion.
She couldn’t say no.
“He was a man filled with the Holy Spirit,” she recalled. “He always greeted everyone with a handshake or a hug.”
Parishioner and longtime Sacred Heart High School teacher Richard Bahner said the late priest could be “as gentle and as joyful as a child.”
At early Mass one weekday, Fr. Hoying shared a childhood recollection of learning to pray the “Glory Be,” a short but powerful benediction.
“He remembered saying to himself at the time, ‘Now that is pretty neat!’” said Mr. Bahner. “I recall how his face shone with the childlike grin that those who knew Fr. Vince remember so well.
“My heart warmed to realize what a deep and joyful relationship Fr. Hoying must have always had with his God,” Mr. Bahner said.
The priest was always proud of his hook shot, so it made sense when the school’s east gym was renovated in 2008 that it would be renamed in his honor.
“He was a mentor and friend,” said Fr. Betzen.
“Wonderful priest,” said Jim Davis. “So kind and loving!”
“One of the absolute best, to say the least,” said Mary K. Williams.
“He blessed so many lives,” said Bonnie Diefendorf.
“Such a wonderful priest and man,” stated Heather Ives.
“The kindest and gentlest man I ever knew,” stated Jackie Twenter Stratton.
Surviving is a sister, Marcella Thieman of Minster, Ohio.
His Memorial Mass will be livestreamed and archived on the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Parish Facebook page.