Schlarman pays a lasting tribute to their biggest fan
DANVILLE – Schlarman High School senior Adam Muehl can't think of Monsignor Charles "Bourke" Motsett without cracking a smile.
That's because whenever the beloved priest spoke at high school masses and athletic banquets, he always made the students laugh.
"He always referred to what it was like in the old days," Muehl recalled of Monsignor Motsett, who died on Dec. 14 at age 98.
Over the next 11 months, Muehl and other Schlarman varsity athletes will honor Monsignor Motsett by wearing a patch bearing his name on their uniforms. The patches and a banner will be unveiled at today's varsity boys basketball game against Armstrong-Potomac.
The junior varsity game begins at 6 p.m. at the Schlarman gymnasium at 2112 N. Vermilion St., Danville. The varsity game will follow.
The event marks Vermilion County Catholic Schools Night at Schlarman. All Catholic and Lutheran grade school students in the county can attend for free. Wendy's is sponsoring the event. Competitions and giveaways will be held during halftime at the JV and varsity games.
Known by most simply as "Father Motsett," the priest had been involved with the high school since 1948. School administrators said he never lost his strong dedication to the school and its students.
In January, officials announced the school would hold a year of honorarium for him. The year will conclude with a celebration on Jan. 12, 2008, on what would have been the priest's 100th birthday.
The patches are being sewn onto the upper-left corner of uniforms for the school's 10 varsity sports teams. The 1-inch-by-2-inch black patches are trimmed with gold and bear the name "Motsett" in gold stitching. The first "t" looks like a cross.
The idea came from the high school development office staff, director Janet Picillo said.
"It was just a way to remember him and the effect he had on the school," she said. "All of the students have a very special feeling for Father. ... They really treasured him and his time here."
Picillo hoped to have the patches in by what would have been Monsignor Motsett's 99th birthday. But, she said, a delay will allow the school to unveil them on what's been designated Catholic Schools Night in the county.
Senior Ali Omahen believes the patch is a fitting tribute for the priest, who was a sports fan and the young athletes' "biggest supporter."
"He'd always be at all of our games," said Omahen, who is on the girls' basketball, volleyball and swim teams. "He had his own chair. He'd sit there with his blanket and cheer us on.
"He was really an inspirational person," said Omahen, who first met Monsignor Motsett when she was a preschooler at St. Paul's. "He wasn't like other priests. He'd come up to us and make us laugh ... and ask about our day. He always liked to keep in contact with us to know how we're doing."