Father Jerome Spenner challenged people to go deeper

Father Jerome Spenner loved to introduce people to God, but he wasn’t satisfied with just an introduction.

For Father Spenner, the goal was always a love affair with the Lord.

“He was always eager to take his parishioners into a deeper relationship with Christ,” said Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor of the archdiocese, one of Father Spenner’s former parishioners and a longtime friend.

“He met people where they were, but wasted no time trying to get others to see God was offering them more,” Deacon McNeil said.

Father Spenner died March 10 at Providence Place in Fremont. He was 83.

A vigil service was scheduled for 7 p.m. March 15 at St. Bernard Church, 3601 N. 65th St. in Omaha, where Father Spenner was pastor for 12 years.

A funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. March 16 at the church, with Archbishop George J. Lucas as presider, Archbishop Emeritus Elden F. Curtiss as concelebrant and Deacon McNeil as homilist.

Burial will be at Calvary Cemetery in Omaha,

Father Spenner made his preaching visual, especially with children.

“He often used props to help get his point across: an alligator to talk about the seven deadly sins and a squealing toy pig to talk about surrender and abandonment,” his family said in a written tribute.

He was an outdoorsman who loved nature and often used it to show God’s grandeur, said Deacon McNeil, whom Father Spenner helped lead into the diaconate.

Father Spenner was born in 1939 to Henry and Eleanor (Stieren) Spenner on a farm near Beemer, where he helped with chores and baling hay.

He was educated in a one-room schoolhouse near his home; at Guardian Angels School in West Point; Conception Seminary in Conception, Missouri; and Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis.

He was ordained in 1964.

Father Spenner served as an associate pastor at Holy Cross Parish in Omaha from 1964-67; St. Frances Cabrini in Omaha from 1967-68; Holy Family in Lindsay from 1968-72; St. Isidore in Columbus from 1972-75; and St. John the Baptist in Fordyce from 1975-78. 

He served as pastor at St. Mary in Laurel and St. Anne in Dixon from 1978-82; St. Michael in Central City from 1982-87; Ss. Peter and Paul in Bow Valley from 1987-91; St. Ludger in Creighton from 1991-97; and St. Bernard in Omaha from 1997-2009.

After retiring in 2009, Father Spenner lived at St. John Vianney Residence in Omaha. He moved in 2020 to St. Joseph Retirement Community in West Point and most recently lived at Providence Place in Fremont.

Father Spenner enjoyed biking, reading, woodworking, photography and astronomy.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Father Wilfred Spenner; and nephew, James Schuetze.

Father Spenner is survived by his brothers Eugene (Marilyn) Spenner of British Columbia, Canada, and Daniel (Karen) Spenner of Beemer; sister, Mary Beth (Jan) Schuetze of West Point; 12 nieces and nephews; and many great-nieces and -nephews.


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