Father Charles M. Magsam, MM
Born: November 17, 1907
Ordained: September 24, 1933
Died: August 27, 1990
Father Charles M. Magsam died on August 27, 1990 at his residence in the Center for Spiritual Direction in Corpus Christi, Texas. He was 82 years of age and a Maryknoll priest for 57 years.
Charles Michael Magsam was born on November 17, 1907 in Shelbyville, Illinois, son of John Magsam and Elizabeth Riemke. He had four brothers (one a priest in Fort Wayne) and three sisters. After early education he attended St. Gregory Prep Seminary, Cincinnati for 2 years, and St. Mary Seminary, Norwood, Ohio for one year and joined Maryknoll in 1931. He was ordained on Sept. 24, 1933. He attributed his vocation to the prayers of his saintly mother and the encouragement of many teachers.
After Ordination Father Magsam was assigned to Rome to obtain a degree in Sacred Theology at the Gregorian University. While there he also served as personal secretary to Cardinal Fumisoni Biondi at the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelism of Peoples, then known as Propaganda Fide. He returned to the Center in 1936 and was appointed Assistant Director of the Novitiate, Bedford. A year later he was transferred to the Venard where he taught Plain Chant, Sociology and English for 3 years. In 1941 he was appointed Assistant Director at Bedford, where he served for the next 21 years, except for one year at Maryknoll, New York. During that time he became widely on call for retreats to Priests and sisters of various communities. He authored many articles on the spiritual life which were published in various magazines.
Through the years at Bedford Fr. Magsam had a love for study and serious reading. As a result he became a good teacher. He was popular as a Spiritual Director for Novices and Brothers and was always on call to conduct retreats in other communities. One superior wrote of him: “He is the heart of the Novitiate. His contribution to the formation of the Novices by personal example as well as by class work and conferences is a major one.” In 1959 he spent six months giving retreats in the mission regions which were highly appreciated and praised.
In 1962 he was assigned to Chile, where he served for 12 years – for the first two as Assistant Pastor in San Vicente Parish, Chillan, and then to Santiago where he had residence on the University campus and worked in retreat movements and Sisters’ Formation programs. During this time he became very active in the Charismatic Movement. He engaged in Marriage Encounter ministry and authored many articles on the spiritual life for various publications. In 1970 he also worked on the publication of the Maryknoll Missal.
In 1978 health problems necessitated his recall to the Center and assignment to the Special Society Unit the next year. Father Magsam settled in the diocesan Spiritual Direction and Counseling Center of Corpus Christi where he gave a good example to the world as a counsellor for all. At the Wake Service in Corpus Christi over 50 people attended and many gave testimony of how their lives had been changed by him. His strong points were his constant availability, never complaining, and a good sense of humor. He received with one hand and gave away with the other and he was very poor in his way of life. One Sister likened him to the Cure of Ars. He was gifted in healing and instrumental in healing a person of a brain tumor, a child suffering from neuro fibrometosis, and others suffering from heart ailments, arthritis and cancer. The entire diocese remembers him. In a living will he remarked that he did not want a live body with a mind that is gone. To the very end, he was actively engaged in his beloved spiritual life apostolate of counseling and retreat work for priests and religious at the Counseling Center in Corpus Christi.
Mass at Corpus Christi and Maryknoll Center was offered for him on September 4, 1990. Burial was in the Center Cemetery.