Felix Ritzel, OFM
1874 – 1955
Br. Felix Ritzel, OFM, was born on Oct. 6, 1874 in Neuensee, Germany. He was a basket-weaver in his hometown before coming to America in 1896. He became a tertiary brother at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., and was received into the novitiate there in 1900. He professed temporary vows one year later and made his solemn profession in 1904.
His first assignment was to St. Stephen Friary, Croghan, N.Y., where he served as sacristan. In 1903, he went to Mount St. Sepulchre in Washington, where he worked as a tailor and refectorian. From 1906 to 1908, he cared for St. Elizabeth Friary in Denver, and then did tailor work in Paterson for two years. He again served at the Mount in 1910 before moving to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City in 1913. Br. Felix next served at St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., where he worked in the tailor shop and kitchen for eight years. He again did housework in Croghan and returned to Callicoon in 1926.
Br. Felix worked quietly and efficiently in the kitchen at the seminary until 1949, when in his 75th year, he could work no more. When he wasn’t serving, he was in the chapel praying. During his final years, Br. Felix only left the chapel to attend meals and to retire. Few ever heard him speak. He lived a life of obedience, prayer and sanctified work for his entire life.
He died on Dec. 26, 1955 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Hoboken, N.J. Br. Felix was 81 years old, and a professed friar for 54 years.