Monsignor Richard Soseman — an Alleman graduate who went on to become priest, served in Rome and played a major role in the ongoing canonization effort of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen — died Wednesday morning of COVID-19 at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria.
He had become ill the Sunday before Thanksgiving and tested positive shortly thereafter.
A native of Moline, Soseman, 57, grew up in East Moline and was a member of St. Anne Church. After graduating from Alleman High School in 1981 in Rock Island, he went on to Marquette University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and political science and a master’s degree in Spanish language and literature.
He was remembered for his kindness and compassion by those who knew him, including the Rev. Daniel Mirabelli, longtime director of development at Alleman Catholic High School, who taught him sociology.
“He was outstanding,” Mirabelli said. “He was thought of as a very gracious man. He was always so kind and so generous. He was always willing to help people, no matter what the situation was. But here at Alleman, he was outstanding.”
Mirabelli said he was an "A" student, too, who enjoyed the love and respect of his peers.
“The kids all loved him,” Mirabelli said. “He was very active in the Student Council. He was an excellent student. The most important thing, he was always very helpful to all the students, regardless of who they were. He went way out of his way to make sure if any student was having a hard time, he would help them … with their grades, any possible way.”
He was also remembered for his kindness by his assistant pastor, the Rev. J.A. Small, at the three parishes he led in Peru, Illinois — St. Valentine, St. Mary and St. Joseph.
“He was a compassionate, understanding leader,” is likely the way parishioners would remember him, Small said. “A very compassionate and understanding, strong spiritual leader.”
Soseman wrote a book when he was in Rome at the Vatican for about 10 years, “Reflections from Rome: Practical Thoughts on Faith and Family,” and donated proceeds from the sales to Our Lady of Grace School in East Moline.
“He was a good man, very prayerful, very educated,” Small said. “A great linguist, which was to the advantage of a lot of people and the church because he could translate and speak in many languages. So that was the advantage with him. He could help a lot of people because he could speak many languages.”
Soseman was even known for reaching out to people via Facebook.
“Even during COVID,” Small said. “During the times when we couldn’t go into churches, when we were isolated, he would even be livestreaming his Masses even in the old Latin Rite, too. So even people in Europe could attend Mass in that regard because he had a lot of friends worldwide because he had worked and studied abroad. He lived abroad for many years; even before he became a priest, he had studied in Europe in college.”
Soseman studied for the priesthood at Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and was ordained on May 23, 1992, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. He had served as an official for the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy and as coordinator of international outreach for the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation.
At a Mass at the cathedral in Peoria honoring the 41st anniversary of Sheen’s death Wednesday, Soseman was remembered.
“We gather with sad news for our diocese as Msgr. Richard Soseman has gone home to God this morning,” Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka of Peoria said at the start of the 8:30 a.m. Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.
Soseman had been the episcopal delegate assigned by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, to assemble Sheen’s sainthood cause and later became vice postulator.
Acknowledging “our hearts are heavy” with the news of his death, Tylka said “in some ways it is providential and fitting that on the same day that Sheen went home to God, so does Msgr. Soseman.”