† Fr. Francis J. SCHELLEMANS sscc (Hawaii)
This evening, Wednesday, November 5, 2008, after concluding the prayers for the dying and amid the chanting of “Salve Regina” by the Provincial of Hawaii, Father Francis J. Schellemans, 86, peacefully left this world in the loving friendship of Almighty God.
Frans Schellemans came into this world on October 2, 1922 in Liezele, Belgium. His proud and happy parents were Alphons and Jeanne Siebens Schellemans. He was a delightful addition to the Schellemans family amid his brothers and sisters Wilfried, Bertha, Adeline, Louis, Mary and Theo.
As a youngster, Frans became interested in becoming a priest and sought his parents’ permission to enter the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He entered the Novitiate in Tremelo in 1942. Among those in the novitiate with Frans was Stephen Van Den Eynde. Both were professed on September 15, 1943. Frans took Francis as his religious name.
Completing his Philosophical and Theological studies in Zandhoven, Francis was ordained a religious priest on March 27, 1949. After his ordination, Father Francis was asked to join the Sacred Hearts Fathers and Brothers in Hawaii. What a happy reunion when Francis landed in Honolulu on September 15, 1950 and saw Joseph Hendriks and Stephen Van Den Eynde among the Fathers who welcomed him to the islands.
After a short orientation, Francis was assigned to Holy Rosary Church, Paia, Maui as the associate pastor. After a year’s stay, he was then assigned to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu and then on to Our Lady of Lourdes, Honokaa, on the big island of Hawaii. He also served at Holy Trinity Church, Honolulu, St. Sophia Church, Kaunakakai, Molokai and St. Augustine Church in Waikiki.
In 1967, Father Francis desired to do more than just parochial work in the islands. He became friends with several military chaplains from Schofield Barracks and became interested in what they were doing in the Armed Forces. After much prayer and reflection, Francis asked his Provincial if he could be given the opportunity of becoming a military chaplain. Once permission was granted, Father left for Fort Jackson, South Carolina to do his basic training. As a commissioned officer in the Chaplain Corps, Father was sent to Okinawa, Vietnam, Germany, San Antonio, Texas, Korea, back to Germany and then to Killeen, Texas. He retired from the Army in 1984 but continued to serve in the U.S. Army as a contract priest until 1995 when he returned to Hawaii having completed 28 years as a military chaplain.
Father spent the next six years helping out at different parishes and finally settled in at St. Patrick Monastery as part of the retirement community. Once again, he was united with his dear fellow priests Joseph Hendriks and Stephen Van Den Eynde.
A month ago Father became ill. It was felt that he needed extra care and was sent to St. Francis Hospice in Honolulu. Yesterday, November 4th, Father Provincial informed him that Joseph Hendriks had died. Tonight, November 5, Father Francis decided to ask God if he could be with his dear friend and God must have said, “why not!”