Record Staff Report
Passionist Father Simon Herbers, 97, was recently honored with the Gold Standard Award for Optimal Aging at a luncheon Sept. 7.
The award, presented by the University of Louisville’s Institute for Sustainable Health and Optimal aging, recognizes recipients who have “aged with grace and beauty,” said a news release from the institute, which works to create an age-inclusive culture in the community.
The award celebrates and honors older adults who embody the institute’s vision for a “world where all older adults lead engaged and flourishing lives,” the release said.
Father Herbers, a native of New Vienna, Iowa, joined the Passionists in 1943. He was ordained a priest on June 5, 1950.
Early in his ministry he was involved in the community’s formation program with young men entering the Passionist seminary. He also served as the local superior, preached missions and retreats and served as a pastor.
In 1991, he was diagnosed with cancer. It was during this time that Father Herbers learned about hospice care and the need for end-of-life support. He later began monthly lectures and handouts for seniors in St. Louis where at the time he was assistant director of the retreat house.
In 1992, he was sent to Houston and continued his monthly correspondence with seniors in a written publication called “Think Life.” In addition to the publication, Father Herbers served as the chaplain for hospice in Houston for 25 years. He said it was the most joyful time of his ministry.
“It is a privilege to minister to the dying because it is the most sacred time of a person’s life,” he said in a statement.
Father Herbers encourages others to “get to know Jesus as the one who is your way, your truth and your life.”
“When times are hard or situations difficult, think about Jesus and He will show you the way,” he said.
He lives in the Sacred Heart Retreat Community, adjacent to St. Agnes Church on Newburg Road. He continues his ministry by writing and publishing a newsletter.