With no warning, no knowledge of previous or extended illness, the death of Father Richard Beyer took us by surprise. As with natural causes, death can come without any advance notice.
With the Advent Season not quite complete, our meditation was calling our attention to the “end times” of death and judgement. Fr. Rich’s passing on Dec. 20, reminds us all to be prepared for our call to give an accountability of our life. Death knows no time or place.
Now the Christmas Season closes this weekend with the Baptism of Jesus, and we move into our future with the joy and hope that Emmanuel — God is with us. Our faith assures us that Fr. Rich is sharing that togetherness with his creator.
Fr. Rich was given 69 years in which to live out his life, including the ministry of his calling to the priesthood. His experience of 37 years as a priest was nearly split in half — first, in serving the parishes in our diocese. Then there were the years on leave to research and write and to provide service at the Veteran’s Hospital in Waco, Texas.
Hospital chaplaincy seems to have been the special talent of his service to the church — the people of God. The touch of love he brought to the sick must have brought him great satisfaction. Being an author of books, engaging in nature with gardening and the companionship of a pet contributed to his fulfillment.
I am sorry Rich that I never had the chance to really get to know you. You were never around long enough to really participate in diocesan-wide events to share fully with us. Or, maybe I didn’t make the effort to know you or how to make you feel a part of the community of your brother priests. Sometimes I wonder if we all aren’t victims of some form of competition, that makes us stand “alone” in seeking recognition.
I’m sorry Rich. Rest in eternal peace.
— Msgr. Francis Henricksen
Fr. Richard Beyer, 1949-2018
Father Richard Beyer, a chaplain at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City, died Dec. 20 following a brief illness. He was 69.
He was born Nov. 13, 1949, to Kenneth and Catherine Beyer in Burlington. He attended Catholic schools there and earned an associate’s degree from Burlington Junior College and a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from the University of Iowa. He then enrolled at St. Ambrose College in Davenport where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and religion. He completed his theology studies at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn.
On June 6, 1981, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Gerald O’Keefe at St. John the Baptist Church in Burlington.
Fr. Beyer was an assistant/parochial vicar at Holy Family Parish-Davenport from 1981-84 and Sacred Heart Cathedral-Davenport from 1984-85. He then served as chaplain at Mercy Hospital in Davenport from 1985-89. Fr. Beyer was pastor of St. Joseph Parish-Hills and did pastoral care at St. Mary Parish-Nichols and St. Mary Parish-Lone Tree from 1989-90. He was assigned as temporary administrator at St. John the Baptist Parish in Burlington and then St. Joseph Parish in Fort Madison during 1990. He returned to the cathedral as parochial vicar from 1990-91. Fr. Beyer took a leave of absence to do research and write a book. Upon his return he became a chaplain at Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Waco, Texas, from 1993-2001. While in Texas he was a chaplain for the Army National Guard. He returned to the Diocese of Davenport to be closer to family and was half-time parochial vicar at St. Mary Parish-Iowa City and half-time chaplain at Newman Catholic Student Center-Iowa City from 2011-12. He had been serving as part-time chaplain at Mercy Hospital-Iowa City since 2012.
His funeral will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 12 at St. Mary Church in Iowa City. Family will greet friends from 8:30-10:30 a.m. that morning. He will be buried at a later date at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Davenport.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Beyer family to be distributed to charities that were important to Fr. Beyer.