Richard L. Heppler, OFM
1908 – 1997
Fr. Richard Leo Heppler, OFM, was born on Aug. 21, 1908 in Philadelphia. He was a nephew of Fr. Walter Hammon, OFM, who wrote a history of St. Bonaventure University. Fr. Richard was accepted into the Wanamaker Cadets, a high school job-training program operated by John Wanamaker’s, the Philadelphia department store. After four years there, he entered St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary, Callicoon, N.Y., in 1926. He was received into the novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., in 1931 and professed temporary vows one year later. Fr. Richard made his solemn profession in 1935 and was ordained in 1938.
Equipped with a master’s degree in English, he began his ministry of six years as an instructor in English literature at St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y. Fr. Richard then spent six years as a chaplain and teacher at the St. Francis Juniorate of the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn in Huntington, N.Y. His educational ministry continued with six years as spiritual director and lector at the Callicoon seminary, several years as lector at St. Stephen Friary, Croghan, N.Y., three years as retreat master at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, and six years at St. Francis College, Rye Beach, N.H., where he taught and served as vicar. In 1964, he served a three-year term as guardian at St. Raphael’s Novitiate, Lafayette, N.J.
After a short stint in pastoral work at St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Greenville, S.C., Fr. Robert returned to education with an eight-year assignment as chaplain and theology teacher for the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception at their West Paterson, N.J., motherhouse. He served there until he retired in 1986 to St. Anthony Residence, Boston. He moved to Holy Name Friary, Ringwood, N.J., in 1994.
He died there April 21,1997. Fr. Robert was 88 years old, a professed friar for 64 years and a priest for 58 years.