Norbertine Fr. John Bostwick, 72, dies

DE PERE — Norbertine Fr. John Bostwick, 72, died Oct. 21.

Fr. Bostwick was born on Aug. 14, 1946, in Cleveland, Ohio, to John and Ann (Mihlan) Bostwick. His home parish was St. Richard Parish, North Olmsted, Ohio.

Norbertine Fr. John Bostwick

He entered St. Norbert Abbey, De Pere, and was vested as a novice on Aug. 28, 1964. In 1968, he graduated from St. Norbert College, De Pere, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in theology. He professed solemn vows on Aug. 28, 1974, and was ordained to the priesthood on Sept. 11, 1976.

In May of 1979, Fr. Bostwick earned a master’s in counseling from St. Mary’s College, Winona, Minn., and, in October of 1990, a master of theology degree in spirituality from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif.

Fr. Bostwick was a faculty member at Prémontré High School, Green Bay; Abbot Pennings High School, De Pere; and St. Norbert College, De Pere. He served as a counselor at Prémontré High School and Notre Dame de la Baie Academy, Green Bay.

In addition, he had been house superior of St. Michael Priory, Green Bay, and St. Joseph Priory, De Pere; master of novices and juniors at St. Norbert Abbey; and director of the Norbertine Center for Spirituality at St. Norbert Abbey. Fr. Bostwick was also an adjunct faculty member at St. Norbert College. He resided at St. Norbert Abbey, working in internal ministry.

“He was a good friend and great mentor along the way for me,” said Norbertine Fr. Tim Shillcox, pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez. “He taught a spirituality class for 25 years at the college. You would get a lot of people who were non-church, non-spiritual who had to take the class for graduation. He had a great way of reaching them.

“He would hear from a number of them, well into their 40s and beyond,” added Fr. Shillcox. “(Fr. Bostwick) got them thinking about God, faith and life. He had a really good way of doing that.”

Fr. Bostwick’s teaching extended off campus. He often held “unofficial office hours” at Luna, a coffee shop in De Pere.

“He had a ministry of presence there,” said Fr. Shillcox. “People would stop by to talk with him. He would grade papers while enjoying a cup of joe.

“It was more than students. Parishioners, while I was at (Our Lady of) Lourdes (Parish, De Pere), would go to see him there,” added Fr. Shillcox. “He was my go-to guy as a sub at Lourdes and at Holy Cross, Bay Settlement. People loved having him at the pulpit.”

Fr. Bostwick is survived by the Norbertine Community of St. Norbert Abbey; his brother, James Bostwick; and two stepbrothers, Larry White and Robert White. He is further survived by numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; stepfather, Lawrence White; and his brother, Daniel Bostwick.

Visitation will be held in the church at St. Norbert Abbey beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25. The funeral Mass will be celebrated at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, in the church at St. Norbert Abbey. Norbertine Abbot Dane Radecki will preside. Fr. Shillcox will serve as the homilist. Burial will follow in the St. Norbert Abbey Cemetery.