Mt. Pleasant widower Timothy Kruthaupt answers priesthood call

2007 News

 By Patti Dobranski-TRIBUNE-REVIEW

 

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The priesthood was not a lifelong calling for Timothy J. Kruthaupt.

But on Saturday, in front of a large crowd at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg, the 55-year-old widower, father and retired federal law enforcement officer was one of two men ordained in the Diocese of Greensburg.

“It was not something on the radar screen,” Kruthaupt said. “It developed slowly.”

During the Litany of Saints, as the two new priests lay prostrate on the floor in front of the cathedral altar before Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt, tears streamed from his eyes, Kruthaupt said.

“It was very moving,” Kruthaupt said, as well as trying. “First, I was streaming tears, then I was streaming perspiration,” he told one well-wisher after the ceremony.

Neither Kruthaupt nor the other new priest, Alan N. Polczynski, 41, of Lower Burrell, appeared to be fazed by yesterday’s warm temperatures. Both of their voices were strong when they spoke during the three-hour ordination ceremony.

Priests from across the diocese, including retired Bishop Anthony G. Bosco, attended the ordination. They were called on to greet Kruthaupt and Polczynski twice — the first in a kind of prayer, the second for a brotherly hug.

Kruthaupt, of Mt. Pleasant Township, who has been serving as a deacon, is 20 years older than the average man being ordained into the priesthood in the United States this year.

As a deacon, he has been able to assist priests in administrative and congregational duties. He could read the Gospel, distribute Holy Communion, deliver homilies, administer baptism and witness marriages, but he could not give absolution for sins, anoint the sick or celebrate Mass.

A native of Cincinnati, Kruthaupt said he has embraced his Roman Catholic faith his entire life. As a young married man, his faith was put to the test when his wife, Jane, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease while she was eight months pregnant. She died when their son, Alex, was 16 months old.

Kruthaupt raised his son as a single parent with the help of a loving and supportive family. He remained involved in the church and balanced the demands of his job as a postal inspector in Washington, D.C., with his parental duties.

Alex Kruthaupt, now 27, of Annapolis, Md., returned from Iraq in April after serving a year with the U.S. Army Reserve as a psychological analyst. He missed his father’s ordination as a deacon but was thrilled to be home in time for his priestly ordination.

“The timing was perfect for this,” he said. “It’s a little weird, because this is the real deal … being a priest. But, no, I’m not surprised he did it.”

Kruthaupt admitted life will be a little different with his father’s attention divided between his congregation and his family.

“He was like a mother and a father to me growing up. He always has a smile on his face. He still calls me honey, which can be embarrassing because I am 27 years old,” mused the son. “He’s like a superstar. He retired from the federal government when he was 50 and had the opportunity to serve as a consultant, but he chose to do this. He truly loves what he’s doing. Since he’s been married and raised a child, he truly can understand how to help people dealing with kids and marriage.”

“Life experience is not necessarily the only gifts I bring,” the new priest said. “I can identify with a number of things in the world, like the frenetic pace, because I lived through that reality. But it is from the Holy Spirit that I will also be able to serve.”

Kruthaupt is looking forward to the intimacy of serving the mostly rural Greensburg Diocese, where he will be assigned to a parish.

“I love the Greensburg Diocese and my home parish of St. Pius X Church in Mt. Pleasant. It’s a smaller diocese, and I’ve gotten to know a lot of people who work in the parishes here,” he said.

Despite the unusual path Kruthaupt followed toward his vocation, he said he feels prepared.

“It’s a very strong calling, and I literally can’t wait to get started and get to work,” he said.

Kruthaupt’s mother, Janet Kruthaupt, 86, of Denver, said yesterday she was “thrilled to death” that her son was a priest.

“He once served as an altar boy,” she noted.

On the cathedral lawn after the ceremony, the new priest’s mother turned to a friend and said with a slight smile, “Now I have to remember to call him Father Tim.”

Reporter Richard Robbins contributed to this story.