Cover photo for Br. Otto M. Bucher, OFM, Cap's Obituary
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Br. Otto M. Bucher, OFM, Cap

June 6, 1933 — March 31, 2024

Appleton

Br. Otto M. Bucher, OFM, Cap

Friar Otto Bucher, OFM Cap., born June 3, 1933 in Milwaukee to parents Otto Bucher and Ida Smazal, passed away on Easter morning, Sunday, March 31, 2024. Otto, who was baptized Norman at St. Boniface parish in Milwaukee, had two sisters, Eileen and Jean. 

 Otto credits his call to the priesthood on Archbishop, later Cardinal, Stritch. His parents always talked of this, but he never recalled it himself. Archbishop Stritch ordained a young man to the priesthood at St. Boniface. Otto’s parents were standing outside the church waiting for the next Mass when the archbishop passed by in procession, spotted Otto held by his parents, came over, and blessed him. 

 Educated at St. Elizabeth and St. Boniface grade schools in Milwaukee, Otto credited his vocation to the priesthood to the inspiring example of Fr. Velte, the pastor of St. Boniface. His academic and spiritual journey took him to St. Lawrence College Seminary at Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin from 1947-1951, where he was encouraged in his vocation by a persistent classmate, a decision he later saw as divine intervention leading him to the Capuchins. 

 Otto formally began his life with the Capuchins on August 31, 1951, being invested as a novice at St. Felix Friary in Huntington, Indiana. He professed his first vows on September 1, 1952, at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit. He studied philosophy and theology at Huntington and at St. Antony Friary in Marathon, Wisconsin. He was ordained to the priesthood on September 10, 1959 by Bishop John Grellinger. Following ordination, Otto served a pastoral year at St. Francis Monastery in Milwaukee. 

 After his Capuchin formation, he took extra speech, child psychology, and catechetics courses at Marquette University. He earned a Licentiate in Sacred Theology at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. (1961-1963) and a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome (1963-1965). 

Otto taught Scripture at St. Anthony’s in Marathon from 1966 to 1970, then at St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee from 1970 to 1973, and for 30 years at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, retiring in 2003. Besides his specialty in the New Testament—the Synoptic Gospels and Pauline Literature—Otto also served terms at Sacred Heart as Academic Dean, Director of Field Education, Vice-Rector, and Director of Recruitment. Otto jokingly said that his ‘children’ were all the men and women he had taught over the years and that his ‘grandchildren’ were the people to whom they went to minister. 

For 32 years, he ministered as a Sunday Associate at parishes in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, including Fredonia, Little Kohler, and Holy Cross. He also sought summer and sabbatical assignments in Capuchin ministries in Iowa, Wyoming, Montana, Southern California, and as far as Guam (four times), New Zealand (with the Irish Capuchins), and Australia (three times). Otto recounted that his studies and travels helped him appreciate the Capuchin Order and the richness and diversity of the Universal Church. 

 Upon retirement, Otto took up parochial administrative duties in the Diocese of Superior and later became pastor of Good Shepherd in Rib Lake, Wisconsin. His retirement years were characterized by continued service and ministry as he embraced new challenges and opportunities to serve. He discovered that “retirement” meant putting new treads on old tires making them good for a few more miles.

 With declining health, he transitioned to the fraternity at St. Fidelis in Appleton, Wisconsin and eventually to St. Paul Manor for specialized memory care in 2021. 

 Otto entered his eternal reward on Easter morning, Sunday, March 31, 2024. Otto is predeceased by his parents, Otto and Ida (Smazal) Bucher, and his sisters Eileen Webber and Jean Sobin. He is remembered by his Capuchin brothers, with whom he lived, prayed, and ministered for nearly three-quarters of a century. 

 The service will be livestreamed on https://ofmcap.cc/3VGgkJB   

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