Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 8, 2000
Brother popular as local youth minister
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Oblate Brother Hubert "Hoby" Spruyt was a youthful man, in looks, spirit and in the people he liked to work with.
The popular former youth minister at Annunciation Church had a way with the youth.
"He was a very understanding person," said parent Lydia Gerritsen, whose children were active in youth programs at the parish. "He was with the kids, he was just one of them. He speaks like them. It was easy for them to be around him."
Spruyt, 55, died alongside Bishop Thomas Lobsinger, April 15, when the Cessna aircraft Lobsinger was piloting crash landed on Fox Lake north of Whitehorse. Spruyt and Lobsinger, both of the Whitehorse Diocese, were on their way to celebrate Mass in Dawson City.
Spruyt served as a youth minister at Annunciation Parish from 1985 to 1992. He was also involved in nearby schools, including St. Francis Xavier High School, and H.E. Beriault Junior High School and Annunciation and Our Lady of Victory elementary schools.
"He was like a chaplain in those schools," said Joanne Engel, pastoral assistant at Annunciation. "His personality was such that he could relate to any age group. Everyone liked him."
His sister Josephine Davis added, "His calling was to work with the kids.
"If it was a small child he was talking to, he would sit down on the floor with them . . . he would get down to their level."
Born in Haarlem, Holland, Spruyt was one of eight children. His parents immigrated to Victoria, B.C., where, at the age of 19, he met Lobsinger at a retreat.
In 1963, he joined the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The bulk of his time was spent in missionary work in northern B.C. Shortly after Lobsinger was named bishop of Whitehorse in 1987, Spruyt headed North and served as chancellor and later financial administrator for the diocese.
"He was a very kind, prayerful, gentle and caring person," friend Anna Pallier said of Spruyt. "And he was a friend to all who knew him.
"He befriended the young people and took them under his wing. . . . Once you knew him, you were his friend for life. He was a very good friend."
Father John Doetzel will preside at a memorial Mass for Brother Hoby May 30, 7 p.m. at Annunciation Church.