Francis E. Tourscher, O.S.A.

1870 – 1939 (January 30)

Francis Edward Tourscher, son of John Tourscher and Louise Widhauser, natives of Alsace, was born at Dushore, PA, on May 10, 1870. From a family of eleven, three of his sisters became religious. After attending a small country grammar school, he was apprenticed to a local carpenter. The parish priest instructed him in Latin and English. At the age of 22 he enrolled at Saint Rita Hall, Villanova. On September 18, 1894, he entered the novitiate and professed simple vows on September 19, 1895 and solemn vows on the same day in 1898. After completing his philosophical and theological studies at Villanova he was ordained to the priesthood in Saint Thomas Church on campus by the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Sebastian Martinelli, O.S.A., on September 29, 1898, and offered his first Mass the next day at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Counsel in the same church.Father Tourscher was stationed at Villanova for his entire religious life. His first appointment was as a teacher in the College and Studium. At various times he taught theology, sacred Scripture, church history, homiletics, patrology, and Latin. In 1902 he was awarded the Order’s degree of lector, in 1903 that of regent, and in 1908 magister. Over the years he served as definitor, secretary of the province, prior of Saint Mary’s Hall, archivist, and college librarian.

His scholarly interest centered on patristic literature and church history, especially the writings of Saint Augustine, a number of whose works he translated and published in small, easily available volumes. His main historical works include Old Saint Augustine’s, as well as numerous articles in “The Ecclesiastical Review,” “The Records of the American Historical Society,” and The Catholic Encyclopedia.

Professor and scholar, he was, but his apostolate was much broader as he went every Saturday and Sunday from 1902 to 1921 to assist at Saint Catherine Parish, Wayne. He was chaplain at Immaculata College from 1921 to 1926, and from 1926 to 1937 journeyed every weekend to Our Mother of Consolation Parish, Chestnut Hill, while all this time acting as ordinary and extraordinary confessor at sisters’ convents.

A gentleman by nature and a scholar by education, he lived a full, though uneventful, life. His was a quiet enthusiasm and conscious industry. Never a robust man, he still had a certain stamina which enabled him to carry on his work with determination and cheerfulness. He never missed celebrating daily Mass and Office from the time of ordination. His daily fare never varied: toast, coffee, and a little fruit. He took a daily walk through the neighborhood, reciting his rosary, greeting all with a friendly word and smile.Though very weak he celebrated Mass on January 30, 1939, needing a chair after communion so that he could complete the final prayers. Carried on the chair to his room, he took off his habit, lay down, and died within ten minutes. Father Tourscher is buried in the monastery cemetery at Villanova.