Friday, November 27, 2020
Ana Rodriguez Soto - Florida Catholic newspaper
MIAMI | Funeral services will take place Friday, Dec. 4, 2020, at St. Lawrence Church in North Miami Beach, for Father William Elbert, who served as pastor there for 18 years.
A wake will take place at the church beginning at 9 a.m., with the funeral Mass celebrated immediately after at 11 a.m. Burial will follow at Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery in Doral.
Father Elbert, who retired from active ministry in May 2018, died sometime before Thanksgiving at his apartment. His brother, Donald Elbert, found him Nov. 25, 2020.
"I came in to do a wellness check when he didn't answer and when I walked in, he looked like he was just sleeping. We're thankful that it was a peaceful passage," Donald Elbert told the Florida Catholic.
He said his brother, who died just a few weeks before his 73rd birthday, had undergone major heart surgery five years ago and suffered from emphysema. Father Elbert had been a priest for 47 years, all of them in the Archdiocese of Miami.
Aside from the priesthood, Elbert said, his brother loved two things: "Read books and talk."
He called Father Elbert, who also learned to speak Spanish, "a walking encyclopedia. He knew more about every subject than anybody else who was an expert in it."
In fact, Elbert added, "He's probably now telling God that here's what he should do."
Still, his brother noted, "even with the knowledge he acquired throughout his life, he still remained a caring soul dedicated to help others."
Born in Miami Dec. 10, 1947, William A. Elbert was the eldest of four children, three boys and a girl. He attended Corpus Christi School and entered St. John Vianney — then a high school seminary — right after graduating from eighth grade in 1960. He would return there to teach from 1988 to 1996.
In a June 2018 article in the Florida Catholic, Father Elbert credited his parents for encouraging his vocation, but said the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany New York, who staffed Corpus Christi School at the time, played a significant role. “I almost decided to become a Franciscan back then,” said Father Elbert.
As South Florida’s population grew in the 1950s and ‘60s, he also remembered his pastor, the late Msgr. Joseph H. O’Shea, pointing out that “we desperately needed more diocesan priests for our exploding population in Miami.”
Ordained May 12, 1973, Father Elbert served as parochial vicar at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary (now Holy Rosary-St. Richard) in Palmetto Bay from 1973 to 1976 and at Epiphany in Miami from 1976 to 1982.
Sent for higher studies from 1986 to 1988, he returned to teach at St. John Vianney until 1996, when he took a months-long sabbatical. He returned to serve as parochial vicar at St. John the Apostle in Hialeah from February 1997 to January 2000, when he was named administrator, and later pastor, of St. Lawrence.
In addition to his brother Donald, Father Elbert is survived by another brother, Thomas, who lives in Woodbury, Minnesota, and a sister, Susan, who lives in Cape Coral, Florida; as well as many nieces and nephews.
This article has been updated with additional information.