Sacred Heart Church, Manville NJ
The Redemptorists-Roman Catholic Church-Sacred Heart Church in Manville, NJ
Blessed Kaspar Stanggassinger (1871-1899)

"Saints have special intuitions", wrote Father Stanggassinger. "What is important for me, who am not a saint, are the simple eternal truths: the Incarnation, the Redemption, and the Holy Eucharist."

SaThe Redemptorists-Sacred Heart Church in Manville, NJKaspar Stanggassinger, born in 1871 in southern Germany, was the second of sixteen children of a respectable farming family. From his youth he had a growing desire to become a priest. When he was ten years old, he went to Freising to continue his schooling where he found the studies rather difficult. His father told him that if he did not pass his exams he would have to leave school. So he made up his mind, dedicated himself faithfully to prayer, and began to make steady progress in his studies. During vacations, he formed boys' clubs to occupy the youngsters and keep them out of trouble. Every day the groups attended Mass, went hiking, or made a pilgrimage. Kaspar's dedication extended even to risking his life to save one boy in danger when mountain climbing.

He entered the diocesan seminary in 1890 and from his writings of that period we can see his efforts to reach spiritual maturity. To better discern the Will of God he voluntarily followed a rigorous prayer schedule. It was soon clear to him that the Lord was calling him to live as a religious. After a visit to the Redemptorists, he was inspired to follow their vocation as missionaries. In spite of his father's opposition, he entered the Redemptorist novitiate in 1892 and was ordained a priest in 1895.

Kaspar had entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer with the intention of being a missionary. But instead, he was appointed to educate future missionaries in a seminary. To this task he dedicated himself wholeheartedly, seeing this as a response to the vow of obedience he had taken as a religious. During the week he taught classes and counseled the students. On weekends he always assisted at churches in neighboring villages, especially by preaching. Although very busy, he was ever patient and understanding of others, especially of the students who saw in him more a friend that a teacher. Although education procedures in that day age were very strict, he never acted harshly and took care to immediately apologize if he thought he had wronged someone.

He was deeply devoted to the Eucharist and in his preaching invited all to have recourse to our Sacramental Lord in times of need and anxiety, speaking to Christ as a friend. His preaching was a constant reminder to the faithful to take the Christian life seriously, growing in faith by means of prayer and continual conversion. His style was direct and appealing, and he did not have recourse to the threats of punishment that were common in the preaching of the time.

In 1899 the Redemptorists opened a seminary in Gars, Bavaria. Father Stanggassinger was sent there as director. He was 28 years old at the time, but was only able to preach one retreat to the students and to participate in the opening of the school year before succumbing to a case of peritonitis on September 26. His simple holiness was of such power that in April 1988 Pope John Paul II declared him "blessed," a saintly model of Christian life.
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