News: Memorial Service for Father Merz

February 8, 2019

Father Gene Merz

Jesuit Father Gene Merz, a cofounder of Emmaus House, died on Jan. 16 at age 87. He was a Jesuit for 70 year, and a priest for 57 years. 

“Father Gene was a loving servant of God,” wrote Claudette McDonald on an Emmaus House memorial page. “His heartfelt listening, and keen insights guided me to deep self-understanding and interior freedom. May all those whom he touched carry forth his rich legacy.”

A memorial service will be Feb. 24 from 3-5 p.m. at Our Lady of Peace Chapel at the Bishop Drumm Care Center in Johnston.

Father Merz entered the Jesuits in 1948, professing final vows at Emmaus House in Des Moines in 1977.

After his studies, he served at St. Francis Mission in South Dakota and taught theology at a high school in Wisconsin before becoming a spiritual director. In 1974, he moved to Des Moines where, with Father Gary Brophy, he created Emmaus House to offer spiritual direction, retreats, and counseling.

Father Merz served in Des Moines until 1979, when he became a master of novices for the Jesuits in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1991, he returned to Wisconsin to service his religious community.

He returned to Des Moines in 2015 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Emmaus House.

“I will remember Father Gene as a lion of a man (through his physical size, determination, voice and presence) who carried the heart of a shepherd and the gentlemess of a Lamb within,” wrote Janet Drey on the memorial page.

The public is invited to share memories at this link.