Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Ana Rodriguez Soto - Florida Catholic newspaper
MIAMI | Word spread quickly among alumni of St. Thomas Aquinas High School that Father Guy Fenger was dying.
“Many of them actually knew that he was sick, knew when he went on life support. I mean they have been communicating with me,” said Denise Aloma, principal of the Fort Lauderdale school where Father Fenger taught theology from 1983 to 2002.
“He was very personable, very outgoing, made himself very available to the students and their parents,” said Aloma. “His strength was his availability to students and their parents even after he left the school. That’s why I have a lot of alums reaching out.”
Father Fenger, 79, died peacefully Oct. 11, 2021 after suffering a major stroke Oct. 7. He had been a priest for 44 years.
The announcements of his illness and death were posted on the Facebook page of St. Andrew Church in Coral Springs, where the priest had helped since his retirement from active ministry in 2011.
Although he was never officially assigned at St. Andrew, “he helped for many years with daily Masses and confessions, especially for the school students, religious education students and penance services,” said Msgr. Michael Souckar, St. Andrew’s pastor. “Although retired, I think he was one of the busiest priests I know, helping in so many parishes in northern Broward County.”
He described Father Fenger as “ever the teacher” who was never at a loss for words and enjoyed intellectual challenges. “He always encouraged and supported his students in their academic and professional pursuits, and this led to some longtime friendships,” Msgr. Souckar said.
In its Facebook tribute, St. Thomas Aquinas High School recalled how Father Fenger “remained a steadfast figure at Encounters, sunrise Masses, Ring Day ceremonies, and theology classes” from the first day he stepped on campus until he left in 2002. “His unique style of teaching engaged his students in the everyday application of scripture to their daily lives. His cheerful ‘hello’ in the hallways and his humorous anecdotes distinguished his presence on campus,” the tribute continued.
Those who commented on St. Andrew’s Facebook post recalled a priest who sprinkled his homilies with personal anecdotes and maxims from his mother, and possessed great knowledge of liturgy and Scripture.
Tom Fabbri recalled how Father Fenger had officiated at his wedding 10 years ago. He called the priest “a true gentlemen who had a wealth of knowledge. Always enjoyed our many conversations.”
Nancy Heise wrote: “In his sermons he would often mention things his mother told him. I often think of these little sayings. Here are some I remember: 1) Inch by inch it’s a cinch. 2) Take the scar and turn it into a star. 3) You can move mountains if everyone shows up at the base with a shovel...”
The sayings “always proved to be great advice for all sorts of ordinary life situations,” Heise wrote.
Rosemarie Gallo Neumann said she was impressed by his homilies. “You always read the Gospel according to Fr. Guy by bringing a personal story into the lesson which made it more interesting...”
Tom Errion simply wrote: “Good priest, good person.”
Father Guy Phillip Fenger was born Nov. 5, 1941 in Buffalo, New York. He attended the University of Buffalo and Plattsburgh State, also in Buffalo, then obtained a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Wadhams Hall in Ogdensburg. He graduated from Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, New York, with a master’s in divinity and was ordained for the Diocese of Ogdensburg, New York, on April 30, 1977.
In 1981, he obtained a master’s degree in education from Plattsburgh State along with a certification of advanced studies in educational administration. While in South Florida, he obtained a doctorate in education from Nova (now Nova Southeastern) University. He also spoke “a little” Spanish and French, according to his bio.
In the Ogdensburg Diocese he taught high school English, religion and social studies, and served as an associate in several parishes before obtaining permission to move to the Archdiocese of Miami in 1983. He began teaching and serving as chaplain at St. Thomas Aquinas a few months later while residing at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in North Lauderdale.
He incardinated — became a priest of — the Archdiocese of Miami in January 1987. In 1990, he moved his residence to All Saints in Sunrise, moving again to St. Boniface, Pembroke Pines, in 2004. He remained at St. Boniface until retiring from fulltime ministry in March 2011.
Father Fenger was appointed vocations director for Broward County schools in 1986 and served as chaplain to the Knights of Columbus Council 3080 in Fort Lauderdale from 1984 to 1989.
Funeral services will take place next Tuesday, Oct. 19, at St. Andrew, 9950 N.W. 29 St., Coral Springs. A viewing will begin at 9 a.m. followed immediately by a funeral Mass at 11 a.m. and burial at Our Lady Queen of Heaven in North Lauderdale.
He is survived by three brothers, other relatives and many friends.