Fr. Victor J. Ivers died on Saturday, January 18, 2014, at St. Benedict Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Niles, Illinois. He was 95 years old.
Fr. Ivers was born in Chicago and attended St. Theodore Elementary School and St. Rita High School, both in Chicago. He graduated from Quigley Preparatory Seminary and from the University of St. Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary, where he received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees. Most Rev. Bernard J. Sheil, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, ordained Fr. Ivers on February 24, 1945.
Fr. Ivers’ first assignment was at St. Mary Nativity Parish in Joliet where he served from 1945 to 1948. He was then assigned to Holy Rosary Parish in Chicago in 1948. In 1951, Fr. Ivers began his thirty-year career as a United States Navy Chaplain by attending the Navy Chaplain School in Rhode Island and served the U.S. Navy until 1981. He was stationed in various stateside naval air stations and marine bases in California, Florida, Tennessee and North Carolina. Fr. Ivers also served aboard the USS Ticonderoga naval aircraft carrier from 1959 to 1961. He was also stationed in a Pearl Harbor naval submarine base for two years. In addition, Fr. Ivers served with the U.S. Marines in Korea and Vietnam and was on the faculty of the Navy Chaplaincy School in Newport, Rhode Island from 1968 to 1971.
In a 2005 interview with Ellen Bassett for the Veteran’s History Project of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress*, Fr. Ivers recalled his time on active military duty, “One of the nice things I did was serve food to the enlisted men. I would go down to the mess decks, on the three carriers I served, on a big cruiser and on all the little ships on which I served. I would get a cook’s hat, and I would stand there while they were going through the line. I would give them whatever they wanted, you know. I was in my uniform with a little apron. I liked that, because I got to see the men. They’d say, ‘Hey, Padre! What are you doing? Are you a cook now?’ I’d say, ‘No, but I’m helping out.’”
Fr. Ivers returned to the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1981 and served at St. Mary Parish in Lake Forest. He then served at Immaculate Conception Parish in Waukegan. Fr. Ivers retired from active ministry in 1980 and continued to serve at St. Joseph Parish in Libertyville from 1987 to 2007. He was actively involved in the life of the parish until his move to St. Benedict Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in early 2007.
Rev. John E. Hennessey, Pastor Emeritus and Resident at St. Joseph Parish in Libertyville, who worked closely with Fr. Ivers, described him as, “a man of deep faith who loved being and acting as a priest.” He also said, “I admired his faithfulness, passion and openness about who he was and what he did. He made every effort to explicitly encourage young men to ‘fill his shoes’ to say nothing of promotional efforts around the parish.”
Fr. Victor Ivers is survived by his many nieces and nephews.
Photo courtesy of the Archdiocese of Chicago.