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May 25, 2018

Notre Dame faculty and staff surprise Fr. Joe Hindelang, s.m., Thursday with a special celebration as he nears 40 years as a priest.

Fr. Joe Hindelang, s.m., at right, was surprised Thursday with a celebration honoring his 40th anniversary as a priest.

On Sunday, May 27, 2018, Notre Dame Prep Principal Fr. Joe Hindelang, s.m., will celebrate his 40th anniversary as a Marist priest. He joins fellow Marists serving at NDPMA, Fr. Leon Olszamowksi, s.m., (48) and Br. Louis Plourde, s.m., (50) with at least 40 years in the Society of Mary.

A faithful servant for many years to God, Mary, his fellow Marists and to the faculty, staff and students of Notre Dame, Hindelang shows no sign of slowing down.

Mary Jane Pasko, who has worked in the Notre Dame Prep front office with Hindelang since October of 2003, said the longtime principal is probably the most Marist, Christian, wise person she's ever met, with the possible exception of her own father. She helped organize a special celebration for Hindelang on Thursday.

"Sometimes a sensitive situation arises in the office that I consult with him on and he always has the perfect solution," Pasko said. "He is an absolute gem to work for!"

Ordained to the priesthood on May 27, 1978, Hindelang is a 1968 alumnus of Notre Dame High School in Harper Woods. His four brothers also graduated from Notre Dame: Ron ('59), Tom ('61), Mike ('63) and Bob ('64). So for Fr. Joe, his Notre Dame and Marist roots go very deep.

Hindelang, left, is with his parents and the Most Rev. George Hamilton Pearce, s.m., who at the time was archbishop of Suva in Fiji, at Hindelang’s ordination on May 27, 1978.

BY the time he took over as principal of Notre Dame Prep in 2002, succeeding NDPMA founder Olszamowski, Hindelang's curriculum vitae already included a lengthy list of service to Catholic education and the Society of Mary.

Marist servant

In 1972, during his apostolic year as a seminarian, Hindelang taught religion and history at Bishop Grimes High School in Syracuse, New York, followed by a stint as a deacon at Holy Name parish in Detroit. 

Immediately after his ordination, Hindelang became an associate at the parish of St. Joseph in Haverhill, Massachusetts, from 1978 to 1981 and soon thereafter was hired on at Notre Dame in Harper Woods to teach religion. In 1987, he was appointed vice principal at NDHS and superior of the Marist community on campus a year later, serving in that position until 1991.

Hindelang is pictured in 1971 as a university student at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass.

From 1991 to 1998, Hindelang served as provincial of the Boston Province, Society of Mary, and in 1998, as chaplain to the Marist Brothers. He's also served as vicar-provincial for the Marists and is a member of the editorial board for "Today's Marist," a magazine published by the Marist Fathers and Brothers of the United States Province. When he first arrived on the Pontiac campus of Notre Dame Preparatory School in 1998, he joined the school's teaching staff, later becoming assistant principal until assuming the principal position in 2002.

Fr. Eric Fedewa, currently a pastor at St. Basil the Great Catholic Community in Eastpointe, Mich., and a 2000 alum of ND Prep, remembers Hindelang well.

"One of my favorite memories from NDP was when, at the beginning of Fr. Joe's church history class, he would inevitably have to say to Bill Holland and me, 'Eric and Bill. . .are you ready to begin class?!' That's because Bill and I would no doubt be absorbed in blabbing together about whatever topic mattered to us that day."

Hindelang addresses graduates at the 2017 Notre Dame Prep commencement.

Fedewa said that to jump from that babbling high school student to now being a priest — where among other things he's listened to group confessions with the likes of Fr. Joe — is quite amazing to him. "Back in high school, I never would have thought that one day I would also serve as a priest!"
Lauren Neiheisel, who graduated from NDP last Sunday and who was honored with among many scholarships and awards the Donna M. Kotzan School Mission Award, said Hindelang was a true inspiration to her.

"For me, Fr. Joe truly embodies our school mission and has helped guide me on my faith journey especially through what he teaches in his homilies at morning mass," she said. "He is both a spiritual and academic support for all of us at the school." 

Impressive academics

Born on February 22, 1950, to parents John and Louise Van Tiem Hindelang, Fr. Joe Hindelang's own academic career is impressive. After graduation from NDHS in 1968, he studied at Framingham State College in Framingham, Mass., the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Tex., and Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., where he received a B.A. in philosophy in 1972. 

In 1977, Hindelang received a Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Mass., and attended Boston College/St. John's Seminary, Harvard Divinity School and the Catholic University of America.

Hindelang, far left, is with a number of fellow Marists at Notre Dame High School in Harper Woods.

Over the course of Hindelang's lengthy service within the Society of Mary, he's also enrolled in a number of specialized programs, including spirituality studies at the University of Notre Dame and Marygrove College, and educational leadership studies from the University of Dayton and Boston College.

Among the many at Notre Dame Prep who were on hand Thursday at the surprise celebration of Hindelang's 40th was NDPMA Head of School Andy Guest.

"I have a great deal of admiration for Fr. Joe," said Guest, a 1984 NDHS alum. "He has dedicated his life to his order, the mission of Catholic education and to God, and is a role model for all of the lay faculty and staff at Notre Dame. He's also a great friend and I wish him all the best as he celebrates this significant milestone as a priest."

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three school are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at

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