by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Success can be measured in many ways, but Father Albert J. Fey, CPPS, was successful in perhaps the most important way: happiness.
“I don’t think anyone in our community smiled as much as he did,” said Father Edward Oen, CPPS, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Baileyville. “He liked people and he always had that big smile. He was just a happy man.”
Father Albert, 92, a member of the Kansas City Province of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, died on Dec. 7 at the St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio.
Albert Joseph Fey was born on Dec. 28, 1920, in McKeesport, Pa., to Leo and Mary (Keddie) Fey. He entered Brunnerdale Seminary in Canton, Ohio, in October 1934 and made temporary incorporation on Nov. 30, 1938, at St. Joseph College in Rensselaer, Ind. He was definitively incorporated as a Missionary of the Precious Blood on Dec. 3, 1941, at St. Charles Seminary in Carthagena, Ohio, and ordained to the priesthood at the seminary on Feb. 2, 1946.
During his more than 60 years of parish ministry, Father Albert served in Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Oklahoma and, finally, at Sacred Heart Parish in Baileyville, from Nov. 23, 1994, until his retirement at age 86 in June 2007. While at Baileyville, he was cared for by his two sisters, Marie and Isabel.
“The people loved him here,” said Father Edward. “[Father Albert] said this was the best parish he every had. People would do anything for him. He said, ‘I don’t have to worry about fixing anything. I just tell the president of the parish council and it’s done.”
Parish secretary Phyllis Broxterman said Father Albert was a wonderful pastor and that it was a privilege to work with him.
“He liked to joke that he was the assistant and I was the pastor,” said Broxterman.
One of his challenges was severe hearing loss, said Broxterman. This led him to avoid crowds, because he was afraid the “noise” would lead him to misunderstand people. He preferred to talk to people one-on-one.
When he was a younger man, Father Albert liked to fish and hunt — mostly game birds. He’d given up his dogs and guns, however, by the time he was assigned to Baileyville. When he was younger, he also liked to play golf, said Father Edward.
While in Baileyville, he took up gardening and landscaping. He planted some “Moses bushes” — also known as “burning bushes” — on the parish grounds that are still thriving. He liked to work with his hands, so he took up stone polishing.
And he loved his dogs — two schnauzers.
Besides his ready smile, Father Albert was also known for being uncompromisingly pro-life.
“He was so pro-life,” said Broxterman, “he had one of the parishioners paint a great, big sign and place it by the highway. He wanted to make it very obvious that abortion was murder and he didn’t pussyfoot around. He dwelt on it a lot in his sermons. He was very frank.”
Parishioners in Baileyville were inspired to dedicate a memorial to the unborn in honor of Father Albert in 2005.
Father Albert was also instrumental in encouraging the priestly vocation of Father Quentin Schmitz.
Father Albert is survived by his two sisters, of St. Henry, Ohio. He was preceded in death by his parents and his older brother, Father George Fey, CPPS, who died earlier this year.
A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated for Father Albert on Dec. 10 at St. Charles with Father Joseph Nassal, CPPS, the provincial director, as main celebrant and homilist. Burial was in the St. Charles Cemetery.