Long Time Hospital Chaplain, Fr. Richard Tessmer, Dies
Served Alexian Brothers Medical Center for Over Two Decades
Chicago, IL (January 11, 2005) – Fr. Richard A. Tessmer, who served as chaplain at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village for 22 years, died Sunday, January 9, following a stroke. Fr. Tessmer collapsed at the priest’s residence at the Medical Center on Sunday morning and died later that evening in the Center’s Intensive Care Unit. He was 80 years old.
Fr. Tessmer was a native of Oak Park and a graduate of Quigley Preparatory Seminary and the University of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein. Ordained in 1951, Fr. Tessmer served for 11 years, from 1951 to 1962, as the assistant pastor of St. Anastasia Parish in Waukegan. He was also the assistant pastor at Our Lady of Ransom Parish in Niles for four years from 1962 to 1968, before being appointed chaplain at Chicago State Hospital, formerly located on West Irving Park Rd., in Chicago, a position he held for four years. While serving at the State Hospital, Fr. Tessmer was assistant pastor at St. Monica Parish in northern Cook county.
In 1972, Cardinal Bernardin appointed Fr. Tessmer as the resident Catholic chaplain and director of the newly formed Department of Religion at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village. He served in this position until his retirement in 1994. At that time, he was made chaplain emeritus.
He was a member of the National Association of Catholic Chaplains and active in that organization after his retirement from active ministry. In 1985, Cardinal Bernardin appointed him to the Archdiocesan Medical Ethics Committee.
Fr. Tessmer did post graduate studies at Loyola University, completing the requirements for an MA in counseling. He used his expertise in counseling as a marriage counselor in the early 60s while working for Catholic Family Consultation Services for the Archdiocese. Also in the early 60s, he was chaplain for Main East High School students studying in high school religious education programs, known then as Confraternity for Christian Doctrine (CCD).
Visitation for Fr. Tessmer will take place Wednesday, January 12, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Alexian Brothers Medical Center, 800 Biesterfield Road, Elk Grove Village, and Thursday,
January 13, from 3 to 7 p.m. at St. Julian Eymard Church, 601 Biesterfield Road, Elk Grove Village.
Retired Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Jakubowski will be the main celebrant at a funeral Mass for Fr. Tessmer on Thursday, January 13, at 7 p.m. at St. Julian Eymard Church. Interment will be in All Saints Cemetery, Des Plaines.
Fr. Tessmer is survived by his sister, Janet Riff.