Remembering Fr. Bill Schultz
By January/February 2010
Editor’s note: In the September-October 2009 edition of Scarboro Missions, we paid tribute to Scarboro’s deceased members and featured a photo of each missioner in the centrespread. I am sorry to say that I accidently put the wrong name beneath the photo of Fr. William Shultz. As a correction, I would like to put “a face to the name,” along with a little overview of Fr. Bill’s life.
Fr. William Patrick Schultz, a native of Galt, Ontario, joined Scarboro Missions in 1946. After ordination on December 20, 1952, he was appointed to Japan where he worked as a pastor and an English language teacher until 1983.
“Fr. Schultz was most innovative at incorporating elements of the Japanese culture into the liturgy,” said Fr. Clair Yaeck, then Vicar General of Scarboro Missions. “This was most evident at weddings and funerals.
“In this way, he was ahead of his time. Often the church hall served as a centre for traditional Japanese fine arts.”
Described as a “quiet, unobtrusive pioneer,” by Fr. Yaeck, he was a behind-the-scenes organizer who helped establish a Catholic Centre in Fukuoka, Japan, for language and cultural studies. Fr. Bill brought together the talents of both foreign and native born clergy to staff the Centre, which he saw as a meeting place for both Christians and non-Christians. The Centre also served as a drop-in centre for youth.
Fr. Bill’s deep interest in the language and culture of Japan led him in 1961-1962 to do a Master’s degree in East Asian studies at Columbia University, New York. While in Japan, he published a book of his own fables which served as a guide for Japanese students to learn English grammar and idioms.
In May 1979, Fr. Bill founded the Toronto Japanese Catholic Community. When he left for mission in Peru the following year, other Scarboro missioners who had served in Japan assisted the fledgling community. Fr. John Bolger took over as chaplain, followed by Fr. Clair Yaeck, then by Frs. Tom O’Toole and Gerry Curry jointly in 1990. Today, Fr. Tom O’Toole, Fr. John Carten, Fr. Alex McDonald, and Fr. Jim Gauthier usually attend the monthly gatherings.
“Fr. Bill was innovative in other ways as well,” said Fr. Yaeck. “He was a strong proponent of continuing education formation and frequently took courses and seminars to renew himself.” In 1973, Fr. Bill attended the Maryknoll Mission Institute in Maryknoll, New York, to study missiology. His interest in sacred scripture took him to the Mission Institute in London, England, in 1975 and to the Toronto School of Theology in 1978-1980.
Fr. Bill headed into unchartered waters when he left for Lima, Peru, in 1980 and quietly laid the groundwork for Japan’s first ever lay missionary program through which Catholics from Japan could pursue mission activity. He was engaged in this endeavour until his untimely death in 1986, in El Progreso, a small town on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. He was 59.
A great number of parishioners and friends attended the Mass of the Resurrection for Fr. Bill in Cristo Luz Del Mundo parish church in El Progreso. They continued in procession with the body to its final resting place in the local cemetery, among the poorest of the poor—the very people he served so inconspicuously in his missionary career.