|Birth: ||Feb. 28, 1920|
|Death: ||Apr. 12, 2009|
Father Joseph Innocent Hren OP., may be the most well-known teacher in Fenwick's High School history, holding also the distinction of the longest serving faculty member at 55 years. His passing on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009 at Resurrection Hospital, marked the end of a long and accomplished life and career for the man called "Pater" by all of his students. Fr. Hren taught and touched the lives of more than 3,700 Fenwick graduates.
Born in Chicago, on February 28, 1920, in Chicago, Illinois to John Michael Hren and Veronica Densa, Fr. Hren was the oldest of five children to Slovenian parents and attended Holy Trinity Croatian School for six years. In 1932, his family moved to an 80-acre farm in Hebron, Indiana, where he completed his grammar and high school education in public schools because there was no Catholic school nearby. Still, his parents were "very devout, very pious," and encouraged his desire to become a priest. In 1938, he attended Providence College for two years. In 1940 he moved to the Dominican House of Studies in River Forest and was ordained a priest in 1947. He spent a summer in Kansas City before serving a year at his old South Side parish. "But life was too dull; the pastor did everything for me," he once recollected. He asked for a change, and was reassigned to Fenwick in 1949, where he built his career and reputation.
With the longest tenure of any classroom teacher in Fenwick history, Fr. Hren instilled the traditions of pride and excellence into five decades of Fenwick students. In 1958, he received his masters degree in classics from Loyola University. Through his own education he was able to teach Latin, theology, the classics, and fine arts at Fenwick.
Some of Fr. Hren's most vivid Fenwick memories date back to the 1960's when he led students in a number of musical activities, including a group that did Gregorian chants. Perhaps the one he loved best of all was the Mozarteum, a weekly meeting devoted to listening to – and appreciating – classical music, especially the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Fr. Hren's favorite composer.
Fr. Hren took his love of the classics to Europe several times, and he took tours of students with him. Once there, he would later recall, they would "cover the cobblestones. We'd go to Mass every day, then walk and walk to see things. It was exhausting, but worthwhile because it opened their young eyes to the reality of classicism and the Catholic world."
He earned a reputation for being especially watchful in class, particularly during tests. That is part of the reason his nickname was "The Hawk." In 1997, Fenwick adopted the nickname and honored Fr. Hren by founding the Accipiter Award, Fenwick's Annual Award for Meritorious Service to the Legal Profession. "Accipiter" is the Latin word for "hawk."
He remained active at Fenwick through 2004. Beset by a stroke, he nevertheless attended Fenwick fund-raisers, reunions, and other activities until his final days.
Fr. Hren stood as a symbol of the Dominican charism and commitment. He influenced many lives in and out of the classroom. For years he took students to Rome for the enrichment of theology and history. In 1960, six of his students went on to join the Dominican Order. Whether through his teaching of Latin and Theology, hosting Mozart concerts in the auditorium, moderating the Mothers' Club and Alumni Association, or celebrating Mass, Fr. Hren defined the Fenwick mission.
Funeral Services were held at Saint Vincent Ferrer Church, 1530 Jackson River Forest, Illinois, on April 16, 2009.
All Saints Catholic Cemetery and Mausoleum
Plot: Section 2
Maintained by: Eman Bonnici
Originally Created by: Algae
Record added: Dec 25, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 82356980
Added: Dec. 26, 2011
"O wonderful hope which you gave to those who wept for you at the hour of your death, promising after your departure to be helpful to your brethren. Fulfill, Father, what you have said and help us by your prayers. You who shone by so many miracles worked ...(Read more)|
Added: Dec. 26, 2011
Added: Dec. 25, 2011