Moving with the Spirit in Serving the Wider Church
By Markus Ekkerd Locker
Taken from Led by the Spirit, 2001
Fr. Herbert Schneider, SJ, was born on 25 March 1936 to Martin and Franziska Schneider in Fuerth, Germany. After studying in a local school, and later in the United States of America at St. Leonard's Academy in Brookly, NY, he joined the New York Province of the Society of Jesus on 30 July 1957.
Upon arriving in the Philippines in 1962, he studied philosophy at Berchman's College in Novaliches, Quezon City, and in Cebu City. After obtaining a master's degree in 1964, he spent his years as a regent at the Ateneo de Manila High School, where he taught subjects like Literature and Latin. In 1966, Fr. Herb spent a year in Germany becoming a training teacher of German at the Goethe Institute in Blaubeuern and Munich.
In 1967, he began his theological studies at Loyola School of Theology (LST) which he later finished at he Leopold Franzens University in Innsbruck, Austria. He earned a master's degree and a Licentriate in Sacred Theology (both in 1970), and finally a Doctorate in Sacred Theology (1973). His thesis, "Baptismal Text in the New Testament", foreshadowed his professional and personal
After his ordination to the priesthood on 11 June 1970 at Fordham University, NY, by Terrence Cardinal Cook, Fr. Herb returned to the Philippines and applied his knowledge of the New Testament by teaching Scripture at LST at the Ateneo de Manila University. After advancing in rank and tenure for more than two decades, he was finally appointed full professor for the New Testament in 1996. The courses he teaches up to this day range from the Synoptics to Paul and John to the Book of Revelations, covering most of the New Testament. Besides instruction in the Seminary Program, he also offers the following courses: "Bethel Bible," "Preaching from the Scriptures," "Apologetics" and "Pastoral Leadership." In 1989, Fr. Herb was appointed director of the East Asian Pastoral Institute where he established a well-balanced program for pastoral studies and leadership.
It is most noteworthy and exceptional that Fr. Herb made it a personal effort to support and enhance his teaching in the academic through rigorous and focused training in communication and leadership, allowing the Spirit to make him an effective instrument of Christian community building. The training he received at the Covey Leadership Center in Utah, USA (1992 and 1993) enabled Fr. Herb to generate and develop a local Christian adaptation of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The International Course in the Development of Basic Ecclesial Communities, held in 1998 at the Lumko Institute in South Africa, finally allowed him to lay the foundations for the development of leaders of various charismatic communities in the Philippines and around the world:
Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (1975); Word of Joy Foundation(1975); Christ's Youth in Action (1980); Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (1980); Couples for Christ (1981); Familia (1993); Institute for Pastoral Development (1982); Lumen Christi (1982); Lingkod ng Panginoon (1984); Tahanan ng Panginoon (1986); Women for Christ (1988) and Cradle of Joy (1998), as well as the international associations Sword of the Spirit and Christ the King.
Indeed, the Vice-Chancellor of LST, Fr. Provincial Romeo J. Intengan, appointed Fr. Herb as dean of LST, a position that Fr. Herb has held since 1995. The construction of a new school building in 1997, and the erection of LST as Ecclesiastical Faculty in 1999 - therefore able to independently grant bachelor, licentiate and doctoral degrees in Sacred Theology - crown his much-appreciated work.
Even as he devoted his service to institutions, communities and people, Fr. Herb remained committed to academic studies, especially the New Testament. He has published various articles, books and manuals and, most recently, contributed the article "Has God Ordained the Subordination of Wives to Husbands?" in The Roles of Women and Men in Scripture. He is now writing a reading-guide for the Letters of John.
At the same time, Fr. Herb explores new information technologies aiding the communication of the Good News. He recently offered interactive online courses on Scripture on the internet, in this manner breaking new ground for the theological education in the Philippines and Asia.
It is but natural that all this love, commitment, and works for the Catholic Church and Christian communities was recognized through several awards, among them the Asian Catholic Publishers Award of Recognition as Outstanding Catholic Author, bestowed through Jaime Cardinal Sin in 1992.
Read the message from Gertrude, Fr. Herb's sister
My Brother Herb
My brother, Father Herb, and I grew up during difficult times, and our family endured many hardships when we were children. Our parents tried to do their best for us with limited means and under tough circumstances, and they taught us, by example, to be kind, compassionate and tolerant people. Like all small children, we made friends and played games despite the difficulties.
Unlike my brother, I was a hot-head as a child, and it often took longer for my parents’ lessons to sink in. If someone dared me to jump from the apple tree in our garden onto the roof of the outhouse, I did. If someone said something I did not like, I hit them and pulled out their hair. (For all of this bad behavior, I was punished by my parents). One Christmas, Father Herb received two small mechanical cars that wound up and, if you put them on the table, the cars could sense the presence of the edge and turn around. I was fascinated by these cars and wondered what made them work. I nabbed one and took it apart. Naturally, I got into a lot of trouble from my father for doing so. My brother, however, forgave me for breaking his car.
Even when we were young, I admired my brother for his character. I did not understand how he could be so good-natured! He forgave me and others; he was always the peace-maker when conflict erupted among friends. He organized games that everyone enjoyed, and he liked playing chess and other board games. As children, we went biking, hiking and camping with our father, we climbed the apple tree and, when we were a little older, we enjoyed ice-skating together. My mother was a great cook and baker, and we both inherited our love of cooking from her. Our maternal grandmother was a professional cook, and it seems that this interest runs in the family.
I honor my brother for all the times he supported me and his family through action, advice, and prayer, and for the determination and certitude he displayed when he left his family and took up his vocation. He has a much larger family now and approaches his duties and responsibilities towards it with the same conviction and love that he always showed to us. I have always been so proud that he is my brother, and I know that his parents were equally proud of his accomplishments. My brother does not like a lot of praise, but this occasion must be an exception. I honor him for his faith, his conviction, and his unceasing efforts to use his talents to educate and help others. God bless you, Herb!
-His Sister, Gertrude
Read the message from Heidi, Fr. Herb's niece
My Uncle, Fr. Herb
I first really became acquainted with my uncle, Father Herb, when I was a five-year-old traveling with my mother and grandmother to visit him in Innsbruck, Austria where he was completing his Ph.D. Over the Alps we all went in a small, blue Volkswagen Bug to tour towns, villages, churches, and castles in France and Germany. I pretended that I was a princess as I sashayed through castles and glided down cathedral steps into town squares. Uncle Herb pretended right along with me and helped to make it a truly magical and fun visit for a small child who, as an adult, still has many fond memories of the experience.
Like many others who will honor him here, I would characterize my uncle as a generous and caring man, always eager to lend his ear or expertise to any situation. He has listened to my problems and concerns, stood by me through difficulties, and provided good counsel time-and-again. However, I would also like to honor him by pointing out (what so many have probably already discovered) that he is also the very best kind of company: knowledgeable, interesting and interested, and fun to be around. While my uncle works very diligently and treats his responsibilities with great seriousness, he also enjoys life and shares that joy with others. Many people spend their lives fixated on their worries and concerns and never recognize all the beauty that God provides us, both the simple and the profound. My uncle is a deeply spiritual man and I admire him for that. That is one of the most profound beauties of human life. My uncle is also a man who relishes the small joys that God offers each of us; be it music or books, cooking or conversation. And, most importantly, he is always willing and motivated to share those good things with others.
Honoring him, I would also like to honor his mother, my grandmother, Francis. She was a woman who saw God’s blessings in each day, even though her life was not an easy one and, as she grew older, she suffered from increasing poor health. She taught us all to love others, and to do our very best to treat others as we would wish to be treated. Her hope and deep-seated faith are my family’s legacy and, through his work and commitment to Christ’s message, my uncle lives that legacy every day.
- His Niece, Heidi
Get a copy of the commemorative photobook presented to Fr. Herb during the Feast of the Covenant of Ligaya ng Panginoon Community.