Fr. Van Wiel in 2012.

It’s no surprise that the Viatorians are beloved throughout Arlington Heights and the northwest suburban community. However, there is one, also a former Saint Viator chemistry teacher, that is particularly popular: Fr. John Van Wiel, C.S.V., who will celebrate 50 years of priesthood on Saturday, June 4.

“Our parishioners simply love him,” said Liz Mika of St. Thomas Becket in Mount Prospect, where Van Wiel has volunteered for many years. “He’s the old school good guy.”

Fr. Van Wiel’s 25 years at Saint Viator began in 1988. Previously, he served in a variety of teaching, coaching and administrative positions at Bishop McNamara High School in Kankakee, Alleman High School in Rock Island, and Griffin High School in Springfield.

Equipped with his masters in Chemistry from the Catholic University of America, he primarily taught Honors and AP Chemistry.

“Fr. (John) Van Wiel helped me develop an interest in science,” Clare Hannon ’15 said. “On Scholastic Bowl, my teammates look to me for questions on history and literature, but after taking honors chemistry with Fr. Van Wiel, I gained confidence in science.”

Fr. Van Wiel in 1988.

Fr. Van Wiel in 1988.

Like most Viatorians, his reach with students often exceeded the classroom. For example, in January, he celebrated with a former student, Br. Peter Lamick, C.S.V. ’07, as he professed the first vows of a religious brother. Fr. Van Wiel served as his novice director for the entire year before his ceremony.

Last summer, the two traveled out to the Villa Desiderata Retreat Center in suburban McHenry, which is run by Br. Patrick Drohan, C.S.V., to fish on Pistakee Bay. As alumni may not know, fly fishing has always been a hobby of Fr. Van Wiel’s.

This summer, however, Fr. Van Wiel has something a bit more special to look forward to. He will be celebrated, along with other Viatorians celebrating ministry milestones, at a jubilee mass in June during the Viatorian Assembly.