Father Francis J. Assenmacher, MM

Born: March 1, 1924
Ordained: June 9, 1951
Died: March 5, 1984

We are proud of our personnel who have lived ordinary lives and yet have been rather extraordinary in their missionary dedication to God. There was nothing unusual about Frank Assenmacher. He was one of seven children. He was a farmer’s son from Dearborn, Michigan. As a young boy he was a student at St. Alphonsus Catholic School. His life was ordinary, but yet from early childhood he longed to become a priest and a missioner. Many of our priests, brothers and lay missioners come from similar backgrounds, but their service to the call of mission is going far beyond the ordinary to serve God and His people in remarkable ways. The ordinary seems to become the extraordinary.

After thirty-three years of seeking out new ways to interest the Chilean people in their Faith, Father Frank returned to the United States on the 18th of February, accompanied by Brother Gregory Grant, because of health reasons. It was a surprise to the Maryknoll Community when he died on Monday, the 5th of March, at approximately eleven o’clock in the morning. A fruitful, successful missionary life came to a close for a zealous priest who cared that people be given an opportunity to live a sacramental life.

Frank was born in Dearborn, Mich. on the 1st of March, 1924 to George and Mary Assenmacher. He was one of seven children. Frank himself tells us:”My parents are good simple people who attend church regularly. They provided a good Catholic background at home and then sent us to the Catholic school. My father works as a laborer on the Henry Ford Farms.” Frank attended grammar school at the St. Alphonsus School. His high school was at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit before he entered the Venard in 1942. He actually applied for Maryknoll in 1940 and at this time became a non-resident student for Maryknoll at the Sacred Heart Seminary. His ordination to the priesthood took place at Maryknoll on the 9th of June, 1951.

His first and only mission assignment was to Chile where he, as a conscientious missioner, did excellent work. He worked in the southern part of Chile in such towns as Licanten, Temuco, Huachipato and Pemuco. Being a generous person, he was sensitive to the needs of the poor with whom he was working. Before his recent return to the U.S. he was working in Our Lady of Carmen Parish in the northern Chilean city of Antofogasta.

The Wake was held on March 8, with Fr. Joseph Smith officiating. Biography was read by Fr. Stephen DeMott. Mass of Christian burial was held on the following morning with Father Charles Huegelmeyer as Principal Concelebrant, and Homily by Father Thomas Kirchmyer. Burial was in the Center Cemetery and Father Eugene Toland gave the final absolution.

The spiritual influence that our missioners have had on the peoples of the world cannot be put into words, but we can be certain that our ordinary men and women of Maryknoll have accomplished some extraordinary deeds for God’s people. May the sacrificial deeds of Father Assenmacher bring him to God’s Kingdom!