Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. Philip F. Dreckman, SJ, who died on March 25, 2021, at St. Camillus Jesuit Community in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. He was 92 years old. May he rest in peace.
Born in Le Mars, Iowa, on April 20, 1928, Phil attended grade school and high school in Le Mars. After two years of college (Trinity College in Sioux City, Iowa, and Creighton University in Omaha) he entered the Society of Jesus on August 17, 1949. Phil had the usual Jesuit course of studies for Missouri and Wisconsin Province Jesuits at St. Stanislaus Seminary, St. Louis University, and St. Mary’s College. He was ordained on June 12, 1962, made tertianship in Decatur, Illinois, and pronounced his final vows at St. Francis Mission on August 15, 1965.
Phil did regency at St. Francis Mission on the Rosebud Indian Reservation and also served for two years after tertianship as Minister in the St. Francis Mission Jesuit Community. However, most of his years of active ministry were devoted to teaching history in secondary schools—at Campion High School in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin (1966–1975); Marquette High School in Milwaukee (1975–1993); and Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, Minnesota (1996–2006). After retiring from teaching, he did pastoral ministry in the Twin Cities area as a member of the Markoe House Jesuit Community until he moved to the St. Camillus Jesuit Community in 2014.
Phil was a loyal son of Le Mars, Iowa. Phil’s dad sold milk from the family dairy farm to Fred Wells, and Phil remained a devotee of Blue Bunny ice cream throughout his life.
Phil also enjoyed sunshine and reading history. Summer days would often find him outside with a good book.
During his years in Minnesota, Phil developed strong relationships with the Benedictine sisters in St. Paul and his colleagues in the history department at Cretin-Derham Hall. He was a faithful presider for the sisters, often celebrating holidays with them. When it came time to move to St. Camillus, a Cretin colleague volunteered his pickup and labor to help Phil move.
Phil was frustrated by his hearing loss, but he remained a faithful community member even though he struggled to hear. He never missed taking his turn cooking at Markoe, and when Phil cooked everyone could count on dinner being on the table on time and all of the dishes done in advance.