Rev. William J. Stephenson, CSV, served as an Army chaplain both domestically and overseas during World War I, before returning to build an impressive career as an educator. He died Monday, April 25, 1932 at Columbus Hospital in Chicago.
Fr. Stephenson was born April 20, 1875, in Devonport County, Devon, England. He came to the United States at an early age and was educated in the American schools. He entered the Viatorian novitiate on August 18, 1905 and St. Viator College in Bourbonnais, IL the following year, graduating with his undergraduate degree in 1910 and a master’s degree in 1912. He was ordained to the priesthood on October 16, 1915.
At the entrance of the United States into World War I, Fr. Stephenson, a veteran of the Spanish-American War, volunteered as an Army chaplain and was stationed at Camp Custer in Michigan. He was transferred to Camp Green in Charlotte, NC, and finally Camp Wadsworth in South Carolina. After a short stay at the last camp, he was assigned to service overseas and served in France until the conclusion of the war.
He was discharged from the Army on September 13, 1919 and returned to his duties at St. Viator College. There, he was appointed dean of discipline and became a member of the English department. He had a most distinguished record as an educator, both at St. Viator College and at Columbus College, in Chamberlain, South Dakota. He was the third president of the latter institution and became one of its most capable directors.
His facility for preaching helped his ministry in the Mission Band – where his work was effective in Illinois and in the West. For a time, he took charge of parishes in South Dakota and in Oklahoma.
He also was appointed as chaplain at the Veteran’s Hospital in Maywood, Illinois, and then later transferred to the Municipal Tuberculosis Hospital in Chicago. His zeal showed itself in his commitment to ministering to the sick.
Funeral services were held at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 27, 1932 at Maternity BVM Church in Bourbonnais, IL. Mass was concelebrated by the Rt. Rev. Gerasime M. Legris, D.D. and the Very Rev. John W. R. Maguire, CSV. Internment was at the community plot in Bourbonnais.
Taken from obituaries in The Viatorian, St. Viator College publication, May 13, 1932 p. 1 and the 1932 Annuaire, publication of the Viatorian General Direction, pp. 90-94