By Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller- The Latrobe Bulletin
Many people call the Rev. Timothy J. Kruthaupt “Father”-his title as a Catholic priest- but only one person can call him Dad.
That one person is his only son, Alex, 29, who lives in Annapolis, MD., and who was calling Kruthaupt “father” long before he was ordained.
Kruthaupt, 57, is the parochial vicar at Holy Family Parish in Latrobe, his first assignment since his ordination in June 2007. He also is an assistant in the diocesan office of vocations.
His late vocation, he said, fills a void in his life that he “didn’t know even existed.”
“There was a season in my life that focused on my family and the Lord had other plans for me,” he said. “This is another season of my life.”
Kruthaupt has an undergraduate degree in economics and a juris degree in law. He was working in federal law enforcement (Postal Inspection Service) and living in Cincinnati, Ohio, when his wife, Jane, who was eight months pregnant, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system. She died in 1981 at the age of 30, when Alex was only 16 months old.
For the first few months, Jane’s mother moved in and helped take care of the toddler. Kruthaupt then took on single-parenting and over the years, he had a lot of help from his siblings, and from his parents who frequently came for extended visits.
Assignments took him to a regional office in Chicago then to national headquarters in Washington,D.C. He and Alex lived in Annapolis and he becan involed in the Catholic school that Alex attended and in its parish. “then around 1992, the Lord started tapping me on the shoulder,” Kruthaupt said.
Volunteering in the parish lead him into a two-year lay ministry development program in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. At one point, the bishop there asked him if he had ever considered the priesthood.
“I had passing thought” Kruthaupt said, “and he convinced me that it was possible.”
He was soon transferred to a federal office in Pittsburgh but lived in the Diocese of Greensburg.”I reached out to Rather Larry Kulick, the diocesan director of vocations, and he put me in touch with (then) Bishop Anthony Bosco,” he said.
Bosco was so encouraging that Kruthaupt applied to enter the studies for the priesthood an was accepted in December 2001.
He turned 50 two months later and was eligible for retirement from his government career. Then in August 2002 he entered the seminary at St. Vincent Archabbey.
Kruthaupt became a diocesan priest, rather than a monastic order priest, because of his love of working with people on the pastoral level.
“Before I was in the lay ministry program, there was a call in the parish bulletin about the different kinds of ministries and what gifts were needed,” he said.
“I found a fit in going to a nursing home every weekend and having Communion services with people in their rooms. I felt a great relationship with them, and they were blessing me with their presence. I was being fed more than I was feeding them.I just feel very drawn to pastoral work, and I am really attracted to that engaging with people.”
Two years ago, he was one of two priests ordained at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg, the first ordinations for Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt. Kruthaupt’s mother, Janet, attended and so did his son. Alex had missed his father’s ordination to the diaconate because he was deployed in Iraq. He came back in time for the ordination to the priesthood.
Kruthaupt will never forget when Alex landed stateside. His phone rang at about 3 am on Psalm Sunday but he was excited to be awakened to get that call. They talked for a while, then planned to talk later in the day.
Kruthaupt made contact by pressing return call on his phone. They talked about the return trip home and other things, but the conversation became awkward when he mentioned Alex’s new condominium and praying the rosary.
That’s when they both realized that Kruthaupt was not the young man’s father, and that it wasn’t Alex on the other end of the line. Alex had just borrowed his friend’s cell phone to call his father at 3 am.
But the moment was still significant.
“He was a son, and i was a dad, and it didn’t matter who he was,” Kruthaupt said. “it was just aprofound experience of love.”
The Diocese of Greensburg has one other priest who has children. The Rev. Donald P. Trexler, had seven childern (six were then ages 23 to 45; the seventh died in infancy), and 11 grandchildren when he was ordained on June 6, 1998. He was a widower and parishioner of Mother of Sorrows Parish in Murrysville when in entered the seminary in 1994.
Father Trexler, who turns 77 on Aug. 23, retired last fall after serving six years as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (St. Mary) Parish in Leckrone and administrator of the former St. Albert Parish in Palmer, both in Fayette County.