May 16, 1927-December 19, 2023

Fr. Donald Thieman, C.PP.S., died at 12:40 a.m. on December 19 in the infirmary at St. Charles Center, Carthagena, Ohio. He had been in failing health. At 96, Fr. Thieman was the oldest living Missionary of the Precious Blood in the world. He had celebrated the 70th anniversary of his ordination earlier this year.

He was born on May 16, 1927, in Coldwater, Ohio, to John and Rose (Stelzer) Thieman. He entered the Congregation in 1941 at Brunnerdale, the Missionaries’ former high school seminary near Canton, Ohio, and was ordained on June 4, 1953 at St. Charles Seminary, Carthagena, Ohio.

Fr. Thieman spent a few years in parish ministry after his ordination, at St. Anne Church in Toledo and St. Augustine Church in Minster, Ohio.

In 1958, he volunteered for ministry in the Congregation’s mission in Chile (now part of the Latin American Province), even though he was not sure about this step. But Missionaries were being asked to serve in Latin America at the time, so Fr. Thieman waited for God’s direction.

He heard it clearly one day while proclaiming the Gospel during a Mass in Minster, Ohio: “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life (Mt 19: 29).”

He served in Chile for over 50 years.

In Chile, Fr. Thieman was a pastor of churches in Santiago and Valdivia. He served as the director of the Chilean Vicariate from 1970–74. He lived through 17 years of violence after the Pinochet military coup, and helped the people he served survive those times of trial with courage and grace.

In 2012, after 53 years in Chile, Fr. Thieman returned to the United States and made his home at St. Charles Center.

He was the last surviving member of his immediate family. He was preceded in death by his sisters, Eulalia Link and her husband, Louis; and Adelaide Brockman and her husband, Warren; and a great-nephew, Austin Brackman.

He is survived by the following nieces and nephews, Marilyn Link and Tom (Kathy) Link, all of Coldwater, Ohio; John (Diane) Link, Troy, Ohio; Ann (Marv) Selhorst, Simpsonville, S.C.; Ted (Mary) Beckman and Jim (Kathy) Brackman, all of Minster, Ohio; and Jane (Virg) Bertke, St. Marys, Ohio. He is also survived by many great-nieces and great-nephews.

During his years in Chile, Fr. Thieman was a steadfast, calming presence to the people of God and to the younger Missionaries who served with him. He taught them how to love all God’s people, even those who weren’t the most lovable. It wasn’t that he didn’t have struggles of his own, ministering so far from home, trying to communicate in a language that did not come easily to him. “I’ve never been a great one with vocabulary,” he said.

His own constant prayer was a simple plea, in Spanish, “Ven, Señor Jesús.” (Come, Lord Jesus.) Whispering that prayer, then listening for an answer, guided his ministry for 70 years.

In his later years, he served at St. Charles with dignity and grace, helping at local parishes as long as he was able, especially St. Francis Church in Cranberry Prairie, Ohio. He always supported his religious community—earlier in the year he attended the Missionaries’ annual assembly in Indianapolis.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Friday, December 22 at 2 p.m. at St. Charles. Fr. Thomas Brenberger, C.PP.S., presiding. Burial followed in the Community cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, United States

Missionaries of the Precious Blood