March 21, 2009 - St. Agnes Church
Eulogy On The Life Of Rev. John J. Nissel, SJ
by Will Degenhard, nephew
My name is Will Degenhard. I am the son of Helen Nissel Degenhard, the nephew of Tom Nissel, and the nephew of our beloved Fr. Jack Nissel.
There are many nieces and nephews and grand nieces and grand nephews in Helen and Tom’s families. We all know Fr. Jack as “Uncle Jack”.
Uncle Jack lived his life from the age of 17 until his death at the age of 83 dedicated to the service of others. This dedication of service as a disciple and priest of Jesus Christ took the form of being a missionary to Japan.
My mother Helen and myself we able to go to Japan to visit Uncle Jack this past May. We stayed for a week at Sophia University and we were able to spend a good deal of time with Uncle Jack, to meet and talk with, and share meals and prayer with his fellow Jesuits, to meet many of his friends and former students, and get a glimpse into what his life was like while serving as a missionary in Japan.
Many of us here today saw Uncle Jack at periodic intervals over the decades as he was visiting from Japan. We learned about life in Japan and what Uncle Jack was doing while not teaching. We learned that he liked to long distance bicycle, ice-skate, hike, and to visit shops that sold doughnuts and sweets. Over the years, we also met many of his current and former students. Some of us traveled to Japan, and were touched by the kindhearted, generous, and honorable Japanese people.
In addition to learning about life in Japan when Uncle Jack was visiting the States, many of us experienced the summer trips to the snowball stand located near Woodstock, learned a few words in Japanese, or first learned what a personal computer was in the early 1980s. Uncle Jack enjoyed spending time with his nieces, nephews, grand nieces, and grand nephews. We had the privilege to attend many private family masses in our homes, we benefited from Uncle Jack’s countless prayers for our intentions, and we witnessed Uncle Jack faithfully praying the daily Divine Office. Uncle Jack was known to both encourage us to study hard in school and then be willing to take a break with a trip to a local Dunkin Doughnuts.
Throughout the twenty-one centuries of Catholic Church history there have been many charisms that manifest themselves through the lives of holy men and women. Some of these men and women, as a result of falling deeply in-love with God and the Mother of God, dedicate their lives as celibate men and women within Catholic religious orders or the priesthood. St. Ignatius Loyola is the famous founder of the Jesuit charism. He founded the Society of Jesus, known as “the Jesuits” in the year 1540.