Meyer, Father Raymond Broderick

1985, June 13

Date of Birth: 1907, September 11

Death came to our brother, Raymond Broderick Meyer, on the evening of June 13, 1985, in Mercy Hospital, Baltimore, where he had been taken four days earlier. Over the past two years, lung and heart ailments had relentlessly weakened his once robust body. For many years he had also suffered much from circulatory problems in his legs.

As a priest and army chaplain, Raymond Meyer had always had the appearance of a physically strong and athletic man which gave added authority to his teaching and administrative presence. Most of his life was spent in Baltimore. Born in suburban Catonsville on September 11, 1907, to Joseph Henry and Mary Virginia (nee Hisky) Meyer, Raymond was the seventh of their eight children.

He received his early education at St. Mark’s School, plus a year at Mount St. Joseph’s High School, both near his home. He then transferred to St. Charles College for four years of high school and two of college, also situated then in his home parish, to begin studies for the priesthood. His education continued at St. Mary’s Seminary, where he received the B.A. in philosophy in 1929, and an S.T.B. and M.A. in theology. Meanwhile he became attracted to the work of St. Sulpice. When, on June 15, 1933, he was ordained a priest by Archbishop Michael J. Curley for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, he was released for service with the Sulpicians.

Father Meyer’s first appointment, consequently, was a teaching assignment at St. Charles College, and for two years he effectively handled courses in Latin and English and found himself well received by faculty and students. That second year he also completed the Sulpician year of formation and was admitted to the Society in 1935. Because he was more inclined toward major seminary work and especially theology, the Society then directed him to graduate studies at St. Mary’s Seminary, where he earned the licentiate in theology.

His doctorate not yet completed, Father Meyer was asked in 1937 to begin teaching moral theology and liturgy at St. Mary’s. This began his long identification with liturgical ceremonies. An appointment to Rome in 1939 to complete his doctorate had to be cancelled because of the outbreak of World War II in Europe, and a request for his services at the Seattle seminary was denied because no one was available to serve as master of ceremonies at St. Mary’s.

The urgent appeal for military chaplains after the United States entered the war touched Father Meyer deeply, and, in late 1943, he became one of the several members of the Society released to serve their country. Not long afterwards Father Meyer wrote to the provincial of the strain and yet great priestly satisfaction of trying with two other priest chaplains to minister to 80,000 troops and many German prisoners of war at Camp Hood, Texas. He was later assigned as an army hospital chaplain in Illinois and in England.

In those years from 1943 to 1946, Father Meyer felt that he could not have been doing more needed priestly service, but he never wavered in his desire to return to a Sulpician assignment when the horrible conflict ended. While he did not serve on the battlefront, he was close to bombed areas and ministered to countless victims of the war. He returned to the United States in late 1945 because of the critical illness of his mother. The next fall, after release from the army, he returned to St. Mary’s Seminary, finished the requirements for his doctorate, and remained on the faculty until 1969. He became increasingly involved in directing liturgical functions at the Cathedral and elsewhere for Archbishop Francis Keough, prepared the annual archdiocesan ordo of liturgical prayer for Sundays and feast days, and then, in 1950, assumed the additional responsibilities of treasurer of the Seminary. That entailed, besides his daily duties, supervision of the construction of the Roland Park chapel, donated in large measure by the alumni, providing for the care of diocesan priests on their retreats, and hosting numerous Sulpician events, including their 175th anniversary in the United States.

Father Meyer’s success in these offices was due in no small way to his special gift for handling minute details, whether in the chapel sanctuary or in the kitchen and dining room. His devoted attention to the Sisters of Divine Providence and the Seminary’s employees also contributed greatly to the welfare of the faculty and seminarians. His almost fierce devotion to the Seminary, in fact, bordered on the proprietary at times.

Thus, the changes that began to relax the rigorous discipline of seminary life in the mid-1960s were bound to be painful to one who was so attentive to every detail of seminary order. Teaching became more difficult, rubrics less precise, and schedules more flexible. Relations of the treasurer’s office with students were frequently strained, and Father Meyer found himself gradually withdrawing from community life. Finally, with great regret, he asked for an assignment not directly associated with priestly formation.

He, therefore, accepted an appointment to the seminary on Paca Street in 1969 when the program there was amalgamated with that at St. Charles College. At the largely abandoned downtown campus he fulfilled the traditional Sulpician treasurer’s role of responsibility for the care of the property, doing much of the maintenance himself. After the decision to sell most of the Paca Street land to the City of Baltimore for a park, Father Meyer helped to plan the conversion of the convent to apartments for priests and was among the first group of Sulpicians to live in St. Mary’s Residence, where he continued to improve the house and grounds until his retirement in 1983.

Meanwhile, he also took on more and more duties at nearby St. Alphonsus Church with its numerous daily Masses, devotions, and confessions. His love of pastoral ministry which had drawn him into an army chaplaincy and summer parish work as soon as he was ordained, then to St. John’s Church, Severna Park, on weekends, was again evident in daily duty at St. Alphonsus. He also found much enjoyment, as he had throughout his life, in frequent gatherings with his brothers and other family members.

Ill health was beginning to take its toll, however. Recognizing that he would need assisted living before long, Father Meyer agreed to take up residence at St. Charles Villa, which brought him back to surroundings familiar from his earliest recollections. A series of strokes beginning March, 1984, with increasing cardiac complications required hospitalization several times, and during the last of these, for only a few days, his brothers and friends recognized that the end of his earthly life was imminent.

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on June 17 in the chapel of St. Martin’s Home by the Very Rev. Edward J. Frazer, Provincial Superior of the Sulpicians, and some seventy Baltimore and Washington priests, with the Most Rev. T. Austin Murphy, retired auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore, presiding. The Rev. Edward J. Hogan, S.S., delivered the homily, and nephews were pallbearers. A Christian wake service was led the previous evening by the Rev. Joseph J. Bonadio, S.S., who offered an uplifting and personal homily that brought into clear light the total commitment to priesthood made by Father Meyer throughout his life. Burial was in the Sulpician cemetery.

He is survived by his brothers, Leonard J., of Arnold, MD, Monsignor Paul E., of Gaithersburg, MD, Dr. William L., of Baltimore, and Walter F., of Bethesda, MD, and several nieces and nephews. His parents, two sisters, Gertrude and Virginia, and his brother, Eugene, preceded him in death.

May Father Raymond Meyer live forever in the joy of the Resurrection.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

William J. Lee, S.S.

Provincial Secretary