Holocaust survivor to speak at Penn College

A German priest who miraculously survived a World War II concentration camp and escaped a death march will deliver a message of hope beyond suffering when he appears at Pennsylvania College of Technology in October.

The Rev. Hermann Scheipers will speak from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19, in the Klump Academic Center Auditorium. His visit, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by Penn College’s International Programs Office and was arranged by Steven J. Moff, associate professor of business administration/marketing, who has repeatedly interviewed the priest and read extensively about his experiences.

Still active at age 96, the clergyman has spent the past two decades speaking to students of all ages about his harrowing brushes with death and the unshakeable faith that spared him the worst.

Scheipers was arrested in October 1940 for saying Mass for Polish laborers; when he refused to denounce the Catholic Church and leave the priesthood, he was sent to the Dachau concentration camp the following March. The next four years brought inhuman punishment, threatened deportation, typhus, overcrowding and the courageous intervention of his twin sister in saving him – and hundreds of other priests and Lutheran pastors – from the gas chamber.

He ultimately returned home in July 1945 to find all of his family members alive and, a month later, became a curate in the diocese of Münster. He would serve a number of parishes until he retired in 1983 at the age of 70, sharing his story even as he moved into an assisted-living facility.

“Although his experience of life is shocking and difficult for someone from today to understand, it is encouraging and provides others with hope,” his biography reads. “His joy of life is unique. He is a shining, but very modest person. To date, he remains intellectually sharp and a man of action. Despite his age, Father Scheipers is full of unbroken optimism, very eager at explaining to others how he learned from suffering and how God guided him through the worst after he had put the responsibility of his life into His hands.”

Moff regularly accompanies Penn College students to Germany and Austria as part of the institution’s study-abroad program and raised the money for Scheipers’ visit from area businesses and parishioners at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Williamsport. The two men met during Moff’s four years of research for a young-adult novel he is writing about a German-Catholic family smuggling food, medicine and letters into Dachau.

For more information about the International Programs Office, visit http://www.pct.edu/international or call 570-326-3761, ext. 5257. For more information about Penn College, visit http://www.pct.edu, e-mail admissions@pct.edu or call 800-367-9222.

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Last Updated September 28, 2009