A Lifetime of Example – Charles Scherrer Does His Best to Answer the Question, ‘What Would Jesus Do?’
It’s impossible to capture everything Charles Scherrer does. In sharing about his life, the active senior struggles with calling attention to his good works, insisting he doesn’t do them for notoriety. Yet the more Charles talks, the more you are inspired by his lifelong commitment to Christ and letting God’s love shine through him. A native of St. Louis, Charles, 83, has been a parishioner of St. Elizabeth of Hungary since 1961. As a resident of Friendship Village Sunset Hills for the last few years, he wasted no time after moving in before offering to lead weekly rosary for residents. He’s even planning a living rosary around the building for later this year. This passion is no surprise given his background.
Charles grew up in St. Louis in a family of seven children. He went to Catholic grade school, attending daily mass. At 15 years old, the assistant priest at Holy Redeemer asked him and three others to start a Junior Legion of Mary to call on other young people and help them in their faith. As part of the devotion to Mary they would say the rosary every day. Charles carries that same rosary in his pocket to this day.
While a college student at Saint Louis University, he helped create a fraternity for the servers of Mass.
“From very early on in my life I knew that I did nothing on my own – I can’t move my hand on my own. I had strong faith and I felt very blessed,” said Charles.
While attending night school, he was drafted by the Army and he chose to switch to the Marine Corps. After serving, he married, finished his education, and went to work for and retired from McDonnell Aircraft Corporation. Charles and his wife traveled extensively – including 27 visits to Europe. They explored family genealogy in Switzerland and Germany, and visited major Catholic shrines including Our Lady of Lourdes in France, Sanctuary of our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, the Holy Land and much more.
Back home, Charles took up about every volunteer position he could with his parish. He hosted progressive dinners, served on the parish council, finance committee and others that he claims he can’t even remember. When his wife became ill in 2000, he took a break from all of his church activities to care for (and continue to travel with) her. After she passed in 2007, Charles joined the Knights of Columbus, citing its commitment to patriotism, faith and focus on individual growth. He joined the Knights of Columbus’ Honor Guard, providing a presence at religious and civic functions.
“I like to get involved wherever I can; to make others happy. Walking around Friendship Village, I like to say hello and give people a greeting. It doesn’t cost anything to smile,” said Charles.
After a few years with the Knights of Columbus, a priest friend asked Charles to join the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. This appointment is only available by invitation and appointment from Rome. Upon reflection, Charles turned it down twice. After a third invitation, he prayed and felt that the Lord wasn’t telling him no, he was telling him yes. Cardinal O’Brien knighted him in 2012, and Charles has attended every meeting and annual conference since then. Commitments of the Holy Sepulcher include doing one’s best to be holy, truly be the best version of one’s self and financially and spiritually supporting Christians in the Holy Land.
In 2017, the Knights of Columbus asked Charles if they could nominate him for St. Joseph Radio’s Catholic Man of the Year award (honoring men from the Archdiocese who have selflessly donated their time and talent to the Church and community). Charles said no. Again, after multiple requests, he relented and allowed them to submit his name. The year Charles was nominated, about 17 other men were nominated as well. Much to his surprise, Charles received the honor and was presented with the award by Archbishop Carlson.
Ever looking for ways to serve, Charles recently realized that Friendship Village’s nondenominational chapel could not have permanent Stations of the Cross. He developed a solution that benefited everyone. Charles sourced and financed temporary Stations of the Cross that could be easily set up and removed for Friday services throughout Lent. Charles is also a member of the Serra Club of St. Louis, a global lay apostate promoting vocations in the Catholic church. They also assist its members to recognize and respond in their own lives to God’s call to holiness in Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.
But of all the things that Charles spends his time doing, there is one that he holds closest to his heart. For years, Charles was a Eucharistic minister at his parish. After his wife passed, he saw an ad in the Catholic Review asking for Eucharistic ministers at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Charles completed training and then requested the assignment of the cancer, leukemia and transplant ward. For the past 11 years, he’s visited patients every week as a Eucharistic minister. Charles said, “This is the very last ministry I would ever give up. I am really able to see God working here.”
In sharing a portion of his work, Charles insists he will not dwell on any of his accomplishments, notoriety or awards. If Charles had his way, he would go about his life quietly performing good deeds. Perhaps this is the reason people are continually drawn to him and his work. “In the end, I want to live my faith in this world and to help others. If no one knows about it – that’s fine by me,” said Charles.
Photo Caption: Charles Scherrer takes a moment to relax in the Clubhouse Lobby at Friendship Village Sunset Hills.