Fr. Bert Pepowski, O.F.M.

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Fr. Bert Pepowski, O.F.M., a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Assumption B.V.M. Province, passed from this earthly life on December 28, 2017. He was born May 14,1935, to Ben and Verna (Wilkowski) Pepowski, and given the baptismal name of Myron.

Fr. Bert grew up close to his roots. As a son to first-generation Americans of Polish immigrants, he grew up bilingual and followed his family’s Polish traditions, which included living out his strong Catholic faith. He attended County Line Elementary School and St. Ladislaus School for the first two years of high school. At the age of 16, he left to follow his calling to the priesthood and completed high school at St Bonaventure High School in Sturtevant. After graduation he continued his path to the priesthood at St. Francis College in Burlington and at Christ the King Seminary, West Chicago, IL. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 27, 1961.

Fr. Bert had many assignments with the friars, including home Missionary, Assistant Director of Preaching, Assistant Director of Vocations, Associate Guardian of St. Mary of the Angels Friary, Green Bay, Guardian of Assumption Friary, Pulaski, Guardian of Lourdes Friary, Cedar Lake, IN, hospital chaplain, maintenance, and internal services.

He obtained his private pilot’s certificate in 1974. As the Lord led, he continued in his aviation education, acquiring the status of CFI, CFII (Certified Flight Instructor for single engines, private, instrument, commercial and water ratings) and MEI, MEII (Certified Flight Instructor for multi-engines, both private and instrument). He continued in private instruction, as well as volunteered in several states for Mission/Counter-Narcotics Pilot for the U.S. Civil Air Patrol (CAP). One of his most memorable aviation endeavors involved both his priestly and piloting talents as he flew missions in the Galapagos Islands.

Fr. Bert especially enjoyed his time in the woods, hunting, the camaraderie of his hunting gang, his week at EAA in Oshkosh, his time at the Chalet with the “Beventers”, and his visits in Shantytown, but most of all he liked just being with his family and the close friends he loved so much.

As a pilot, a teacher, a motorcyclist, a skydiver, a lover of nature, a hunter and one of the best storytellers ever, he lived his life as a Franciscan with his heart wide open. His stories of his encounters with God’s wonders, grace and miracles, along with his travels and work throughout the United States and the Galapagos Islands, could easily fill a book or two. His light, love, and spirit will forever remain etched upon the hearts of those who knew him.

Fr. Bert had a sincere and compassionate spirit, citing St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta when asked why he helped someone: “Because you are Jesus to me!” He lived his life in a non-judgmental humility and chose to “meet people right where they are.” He saw every person as created in the image of God and attempted to call forth in each one “that which is precious and beautiful.” Fr. Bert saw every encounter as a “divine appointment” and when asked how he was doing, his reply was “no less than great!” He truly was a man of God who “preached the Gospel at all times, and when necessary used words” (St. Francis of Assisi)

Survivors include one sister Irene (Clarence) Przybylski, many nieces, nephews, his brother friars, and his many cherished friends. He will be missed by all who knew him! In his words….”Bless you.” “Peace.” Fr. Bert was preceded in death by his parents, one sister, Mary, and one brother, Roger.

The Funeral Mass was celebrated at 11:00 a.m. Monday, January 8, 2018, at Assumption B.V.M. Church, Pulaski. Burial will take place in the Provincial Cemetery in the spring.

A Memorial Mass will also be held on January 13, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. at Lourdes Friary, 12921 Parrish St, Cedar Lake IN.