Father Wichland, East Baltimore's priest of the poorA Mass...


June 25, 1992

Father Wichland, East Baltimore's priest of the poor

A Mass of Christian burial for the Rev. George Andrew Wichland, C.SS.R., whom many called East Baltimore's priest of the poor and homeless, will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Wenceslaus Roman Catholic Church, Ashland and Collington avenues.

Father Wichland, a Redemptorist priest for 60 years, 39 of them in Baltimore, died Tuesday at the Redemptorist Nursing Care Facility in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where he had been for two months ill with lymphatic cancer. He was 90.

He was born in Massachusetts, the son of Lithuanian immigrants who could not read or speak English. He attended school at St. Mary's Seminary in North East, Pa., and then entered the Redemptorist Seminary in Esopus N.Y., where he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1932.

After spending about four years as a priest in northern Paraguay, he was diagnosed as having tuberculosis. In 1937, he was told that he might not have long to live. He spent almost four years in bed rest in a cool climate -- the treatment for tuberculosis in those days -- at a facility in Gabriels, N.Y.

Thereafter, he resumed his career as a priest for about another half century. Years later he would say of his extended bed rest: "God put me to bed and made me realize that he could get along without me, but that I needed him."

His duty in Baltimore began in 1953, when he was assigned to Sacred Heart Catholic parish in Highlandtown. He would subsequently begin a ministry that would be called the Redemptorist Food Program, which provided food and other goods for the needy throughout East Baltimore. He was known for working long days, sometimes 18 to 20 hours, for long periods.

In 1967, after being transferred to the Sts. James and John

Catholic Church at Eager and Aisquith streets, he expanded his food and clothing program, moving it in 1986 to the vacated St. John's Church building at Valley and Eager streets. The same year, he was transferred to St. Wenceslaus Church.

Every day of his life as a priest, even when he was ill and dying, associates said, Father Wichland rose early for meditation and prayer. For many years, he celebrated Mass daily for the Institute of Notre Dame community. On weekends, he visited nursing homes and the home-bound throughout Maryland. Mass, he told friends, was the happiest time of his day.

Over the years, he helped found two Catholic orders for women, both of which have ceased operations. But a recent visitor to Paraguay returned to the United States with best wishes for Father Wichland's 90th birthday -- from two nuns now in their 80s who remembered him from his work in their country.

As recently as April 15, he helped prepare Easter baskets for his needy friends. On Good Friday, April 17, he collapsed, ill from the cancer that had spread throughout his body.

Father Wichland is survived by three sisters, Ann Atwell of Mansfield, Mass., Agnes Gambon of North Easton, Mass., and Elenore Creamer of Washington, D.C.

Memorial contributions can be made to Father Wichland's Food Center, St. Wenceslaus Church, 2111 Ashland Ave., Baltimore 21205.

James H. Williams, an all-American tackle on a Morgan Stat football team who later played professionally, died of Alzheimer's disease March 14 at Sinai Hospital. He was 81.

Born and reared in Towson, he graduated from Baltimore's Douglass High School in 1928 and in 1932 from what is now Morgan State University, where he was a member of the Golden Bears team.

For a time, he and his late brother, Philip, played professional football with the Brown Bombers in New York City.

In 1940, Mr. Williams began a 32-year career as a letter carrier in Baltimore and Baltimore County, interrupted by Army service between 1942 and 1946. Among his postal routes were ones in Catonsville and, in the city, in Irvington and along Walbrook and Arunah avenues and McCulloh Street. He retired as a mail carrier in the late 1970s.

During World War II, he was a staff sergeant stationed in the Philippines.

After retiring from the Postal Service, he sold tickets at Memorial Stadium for Oriole games until he had to give the job up for health reasons in the mid-1980s.

Mr. Williams was known as "Sunny Jim" because of his happy disposition and generosity. He was the youngest of 12 children, all of whom were interested in athletics.

In college, he was a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. A strong supporter of the scholarship and education program of the Varsity M Club at Morgan, Mr. Williams was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1972.

He is survived by his wife, the former Agnes R. Jones, whom h married in 1932; and many nieces and nephews.

A memorial service was held March 18 at Baltimore's Grace Presbyterian Church, where he was a member.

Grace A. Ireland

Taught for 4 decades

A Mass of Christian burial for Grace A. Ireland, who taught at Baltimore's Pimlico Elementary School for more than 40 years, will be offered at 9:30 a.m. today at St. Dominic's Roman Catholic in the 5300 block of Harford Road.

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