By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — Reverend Mr. Donald A. Schmit, long-time member of St. Elizabeth Parish, retired deacon, active in the Charismatic Movement, a cursillista (Cursillo participant), a sought-after speaker on prayer and conversion during the 1970s and 1980s, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, died Sept. 25. He was 90.
Don was born June 23, 1924 to Nick and Celia Schmit in Port Washington, Wis. Most of his childhood was spent in that city, except for several years in Belgium. He graduated from St. Mary’s Catholic grade school (now Port Catholic School) and Port Washington High School. From 1943-46, Don served in the U.S. Marine Corps, in the Philippine Islands and in China. He attended Marquette University in Milwaukee. Don started his career with the Internal Revenue Service in Milwaukee.
He joined the Catholic Knights of Wisconsin, a financial fraternal organization.
He and Genevieve (Jenny) Brost married in 1948. When Don transferred to Kansas City in the 1960s, the Schmits bought a house in St. Elizabeth’s Parish. Their children attended St. Elizabeth’s School.
Don and Jenny became interested in the renewal of prayer through the Charismatic Movement in 1970. A year later, at the suggestion of Msgr. Bud Fiedler, Don became a member of the first diaconate class in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph following the 1967 restoration of the diaconate. Don was ordained a Deacon in 1973. Then-Bishop Charles Helmsing assigned him to the office of renewal of prayer in the diocese.
He continued with the Charismatic Movement, and was a coordinating leader of the National Conference in 1977. Deacon Don traveled extensively in the 1970’s speaking to many Full Gospel Businessmen’s Chapters throughout the country and to local prayer groups. He also hosted many prayer meetings in his home.
He was reassigned to parish work in the late 1970s. Father Richard Carney, then-pastor of St. Elizabeth’s parish, charged Deacon Don with heading the marriage preparation program in the parish, which he did for many years. He was also a much-sought-after speaker, traveling on weekends to talk about prayer, healing and the charismatic movement — putting 100,000 miles on the car in just one year.
Deacon Don retired from the IRS as Chief in the Accounts Section in Milwaukee District Office as well as the Data Processing Center in Kansas City.
The Schmit children were grown by this time with families of their own. Deacon Don craved a chance to work with his hands, after 34 years behind a desk or the wheel of a car. He began building dollhouses. For more than 20 years, he built dollhouses and log cabin-style houses and gave them away to grandchildren, nieces, nephews and neighborhood kids. Some have been passed down from grandchildren to great-grandchildren.
The Schmits celebrated their 65th marriage anniversary June 26.
Long ago, Deacon Don set his priorities: Faith in God, love of family, career and ministries. His ministries were many — he baptized a number of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren; performed the marriage ceremonies of several of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He taught RCIA and adult education classes and trained Eucharistic ministers, and continued to lead prayer meetings at St. Elizabeth’s in his 90th year.
As he said, you can’t retire from God.
Deacon Don died Sept. 25. He is survived by his wife, Jenny, daughter, Donna Walsh and husband Mark; sons, Randall Schmit and wife Bonnie, Terry Schmit and wife Mary and Daniel Schmit and wife Paula; eight grandchildren, nine great grandchildren; and sister, Clara Schanen. He was preceded in death by son, David Schmit; great- granddaughter, Anna Bosch, and four brothers.
A scripture service and visitation were held Sept. 29 at St. Elizabeth Church. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Sept. 30 at the church, followed by burial in Mount Olivet Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be given to Kansas City Hospice, 1500 Meadow Lake Parkway, Suite 200, Kansas City, MO 64114 or Catholic Community Hospice, 9740 W. 87 Street, Overland Park, KS 66212.