Joseph Herzog


Haec dies, quam fecit Dominus; exultemus et laetamus in ea.
This is a day made by the Lord.  Let's be happy and celebrate because if it.

Introit to Easter taken from Psalm 118:24.

D Vautier


Joe Herzog was born in Sastin, Slovakia in 1928 and came to the United States in 1953. His parents were Augustin & Elizabeth Herzog and he had two sisters Mary Stacha and Gusti Palkovic.  He died in Colorado Springs on February 23rd, 2013.

There are several people that have influenced my life, some perhaps to a greater degree.  One of these individuals was Joseph A. Herzog, or whom I always knew as Fr. Herzog, since he was at that time a priest and member of the Salesians of St. John Bosco at Don Bosco College.  I first met him in 1960 when I was a novice at the Don Bosco College Seminary in Newton, New Jersey studying for the priesthood.  I took vows for three years in 1961 but I left the order in 1964 and soon after that joined the army and got on with my life as lives tend to do.  Later I corresponded with Fr. Herzog on numerous occasions here and here.

It was not until 25 years later that I was able to catch up with him here and here.

Fr. Herzog left a deep and lasting impression on me for a number of reasons.  The most important was his gift of music.  He was by default I suppose, the college music guy and again by default got to direct the college choir, orchestra and all other things liturgical at the college.  The Salesians have always been a musical bunch, perhaps because of their origins in Italy and because of the organization's founder, Don Bosco who was an exceptional man and himself a talented musician.  Since my whole life seemed to revolve around music and since my only decent asset then was a fair voice and a good ear, I tended to gravitate toward the man because he represented to me the very personification of the art.  As far as any other musical talents that I may have had , lets just say I at best struggled toward mediocrity.

He was a mysterious man too.  He had deep set piercing eyes and such an ability to mystify.  He had rich wavy dark brown hair and a fine smile and reassuring smile.  And his stories of how he got out of Czechoslovakia, and how he as a small boy had happened to hear a rally by Hitler in 1939 and how the force and ferocity of Hitler frightened him so.  

Joe was also modest although that concept seems kind of foreign to us today.  He never took credit for what was not his doing and even for the stuff that was a direct result of his efforts.  When the choir performed well he actually displayed a sincere modesty.  

I have never been able to sleep well and my days at the seminary were no exception.  Some nights I would go up to Fr. Herzog's room and knock on the door and we would take walks around the lake while I would babble on about the troubles of the world.  And there was his restlessness like something was gaining on him.  I had the same feeling about my own life.      

In early 1964 while at the seminary my life went sideways. I went kind of funny and dropped out of the orchestra and choir.  They never did find another bassoon player.  It was then that I begged Fr. Herzog to become my confessor and he did so.  During my stay at camp in June I told him that I did not want to continue at the college.  Fr. Herzog said it would be a wise decision and that was the best advise anybody ever gave me.

So Thanks Joe.  You were the best friend anybody could have. 





I only have a few pictures of Fr. Herzog. This was taken from a group picture of the Don Bosco College staff in 1962.



This is the picture of him taken later in life. 



My brother was a Son of Mary (delayed vocation).  The single person in the middle is Fr. Herzog.