By Tim Lilley
The Message editor
Deacon James King of Christ the King Parish in Ferdinand called the late Father John Shipp “a big-picture person” during Father John’s Dec. 16 Mass of Christian Burial at Christ the King Parish’s St. Ferdinand Church in Ferdinand.
More than 30 priests of the Diocese of Evansville and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Joseph M. Siegel, including Father Schipp’s cousin, Diocese of Evansville Senior Priest Father Ralph Schipp. Father John’s nieces, Katie (Schipp) Stephens and Heather (Messmer) Laake, served as lectors.
Father Schipp, 83, of Ferdinand died Dec. 10 at Monastery Immaculate Conception’s Scenic Hills in Ferdinand after a lengthy battle against Parkinson’s Disease.
Deacon King, who served as homilist, said, “Our faith calls us to be big-picture people, and I can say one thing for certain about Father John; and that is, he was a big-picture guy. And loving the way he did from that broad perspective, being the unique gift from God that he was, he would remind us all that we are unique gifts from God.
“Father John gave his life (to God) so we could have a sacramental relationship with our Lord.” Deacon King added. “It was what he did, his purpose. It was how he loved, what he hoped in and, in his life, the hope he shared. Actions framed Father John’s life. Where there was a need, he showed up.”
Deacon King also shared a small portion of the sermon from Father John’s 1964 ordination Mass. Then-Archabbot Gabriel Verkamp served as homilist, and he told those in attendance that “Father is prepared to take on the burdens of the priesthood. He will be working in the world but not of the world. He will be working for Christ the King (and for) the kingdom of Heaven.”
Deacon King added, “This is a life of purpose, love and hope; it is a life well-lived.”
Father John was born in Ferdinand Oct. 12, 1938, to Herbert L. and Mary Ann (Loew) Schipp.
He attended St. Meinrad College and St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad. Evansville Bishop Henry J. Grimmelsman ordained him to the priesthood May 23, 1964. Following is a summary of his pastoral appointments:
- First Appointment: May 29, 1964, Assistant Pastor, St. Joseph Parish, Jasper
- June 26, 1970: Associate Pastor, Holy Redeemer Parish, Evansville
- July 31, 1970: Advocate, Matrimonial Tribunal
- June 29, 1971: Co-Pastor, Holy Redeemer Parish, Evansville, continue as Advocate, Matrimonial Tribunal
- July 15, 1980: Pastor, Holy Cross Parish, Fort Branch
- July 1, 1986: Pastor, Holy Family Parish, Jasper
- September-December 1990: Sabbatical leave, North American College, Rome
- July 20, 1994: Pastor, St. Francis Xavier Parish, Vincennes
- May 31, 2005: Sacramental Minister, St. Thomas Parish, Vincennes, continue as Pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Vincennes
- June 30, 2006: Pastor, St. Thomas Parish, Vincennes, continue as Pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Vincennes
- Feb. 12, 2008: Sacramental Minister and Moderator, St. Thomas Parish, Vincennes, continue as Pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Vincennes
During his service as a priest of the Diocese of Evansville, he also accepted the following responsibilities:
- Oct. 1, 1976: Board of Director Member, Catholic Charities Bureau for a three-year term
- Jan. 1, 1981: Elected to Priests’ Senate and appointed as Diocesan Consultor for a two-year term
- Jan. 1, 1984: Elected to Priests’ Senate and appointed as Diocesan Consultor
- Jan. 1, 1985: Elected to Council of Priests and appointed as Diocesan Consultor for a two-year term
- Feb. 11, 2014: Elected to Council of Priests and appointed as Vincennes Deanery Representative, term expired Dec. 31, 2015
Father John retired from pastoral ministry Sept. 30, 2014.
He was an avid historian, genealogist and preservationist. He was instrumental in the preservation of the Old Cathedral Library and Museum in Vincennes, and the Chapel on the Hill in Ferdinand. He was honored to have the Old Cathedral Annex in Vincennes named after him in September 2019. Father John was a member of the Indiana, Dubois County, and Ferdinand Historical Societies. He was the Chaplain for the Ferdinand Knights of Columbus Council #14555.
Father John was preceded in death by his parents and three sisters: Evelyn Wetzel, Rita Burke and Joan Horney. Survivors include one brother, Dan (Patty) Schipp of Carmel, Indiana; three sisters, Alice (Paul J.) Messmer and Lois Coomes, both of Ferdinand, and Mary Ann Martin of San Pablo, California. He is also survived by several nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great nephews and one great-great-niece.
Following the Dec. 16 Mass of Christian Burial, interment was in the St. Ferdinand Church Cemetery. Please keep Father John, his family and the priests of the Diocese of Evansville in your prayers.