Father Charles Schneider, a Divine Word Father who served as a missionary in Ghana for much of his life and ministry, died Nov. 6, 2016, in Techny, Ill. He was 97 years of age.
Father Schneider was born in Buffalo, on Pentecost Sunday in 1919, to George and Anna (Leisner) Schneider. Since his father died shortly before he was born, his mother, grandparents and family members raised him. He joined the Divine Word seminary at age 13 and professed vows in 1941. In 1946, Father Schneider was ordained to the priesthood and, in 1948, was assigned to African missions. Early in his life, Father Schneider was a personal secretary of Bishop Adolph Noser, SVD.
While serving in Africa, Father Schneider took a West African name, Kwasi Antubam Mensah, meaning he was born on a Sunday, was his parents' third son and "never laid eyes on his father." He served as pastor of parishes in Accra, the capital of Ghana, and was a cathedral administrator. Father Schneider served students at St. Peter's Secondary School in Nkwatia and was bursar of the Diocese of Accra for 15 years.
He also was a rector of St. Victor's Major Seminary in Tamale, Ghana, and regional superior of the Society of the Divine Word in Ghana for a total of six years. During his time serving in Ghana, the Diocese of Accra grew from having four bishops and no Ghanaian priests, to 18 bishops and over 700 priests.
Although Father Schneider served in administrative capacities, he especially enjoyed being a missionary priest, with duties including administering sacraments, providing spiritual direction to parishioners and serving organizations such as the Legion of Mary, St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Knights of St. John. He remained in Africa until 2003, when he returned to the United States at age 84.
In retirement, Father Schneider stayed active and participated in a study of religious orders at Rush University in Chicago, where he was among a large group of men and women religious whose health and lifestyles were monitored in order to study brain health and Alzheimer's disease in the elderly.
Father Schneider is survived by nieces and nephews.
A funeral Mass was held in the chapel of the Divine Word Residence in Techny. He was buried in St. Mary's Cemetery, also in Illinois.