Father Klauder

St John the Baptist Englewood

I was raised as a Baptist, in a house across the street from a Roman Catholic church. Every day I marveled at the Catholics I saw, how different they were. The Baptist faith of my youth was cut from plain cloth, with simple rules: Everything I did or thought of doing was wrong, and I was going to spend Eternity in a lake of fire. On the other hand, we ate meat on Friday with impunity. What funny rules the Catholics had.

They also had a bowling alley. In fact, they had a whole block of Kenmore, with an old church, a graveyard, a convent, a big new church and rectory, a school, and the bowling alley, where they served beer. As Baptists who never drank in the presence of other Baptists, we looked down our noses at a church that would sell beer.

One day, forever engraved in my memory, the bowling alley ran out of beer. When the bowlers heard that a beer truck was on its way, they gathered outside, and as the truck pulled in they raised a lusty cheer, jumping up and down, arms waving. So un-Baptist.

Speaking of amusements, the older boys, Protestants and Catholics alike, ordered pizzas for the nuns living in the convent, and watched the ensuing deliveries with considerable mirth. But no one made fun of Father Klauder. We loved Father Klauder.

On sunny days in the 1950s, his black priestly robes rippling in the breeze, the Right Reverend Monsignor Charles A. Klauder played baseball in the parking lot with the neighborhood boys. When pitching, he didn’t so much throw the ball as serve it up, so the hitter might do his best. With the bat, he had a smooth but gentle swing.

In my youth, I thought his name was Father Clouder, because that’s how it was pronounced. Whenever we walked by, he smiled at us and waved, and we waved back. He was a nice man. Not a stern authority figure, but rather someone who glowed with kindness.

His example, perhaps, was the first that nudged me towards becoming more open and ecumenical in my religious journey. I certainly needed a lot of work, and many more mentors, but Father Klauder was the first to give me pause for thought.

Father-Klauder-PopeFather Klauder with Pope Pius XII, February 1958

Father-Klauder-Card

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2 thoughts on “Father Klauder

  1. Dear Mr. Winship,

    The piece which you’ve written below is about my great Uncle Charlie!! In the early Sixties, my family traveled to New York to visit his parish. I remember the bowling alley!!

    Each year around June, great Uncle Charlie would come down to South Jersey to visit. This would have been around 1967 which would have made him about 88 and I would have been 7. I’d watch as he’d walk up the steep sand dune from the house and down onto the beach to the ocean. he would slowly wade in. Some of the waves would knock him over, but he’d get up, holding his own against the refreshing water. During June in South Jersey, the ocean isn’t too warm.

    He would say Mass every morning and my brother and I would prep the kitchen table for its transition to an alter. We’d use brown paper to wrap and tape four Hi-C cans and raise the level of the table by placing the table legs on top of the 4 cans. We would light the candles and Mass would begin. I have 12 brothers and sisters and some of them reminded me of what Lazaras must have looked like after being raised from the dead as Uncle Charlie said Mass early. He was the only man I knew that received all seven sacraments.

    Thank you for the memories and if you have more, I would like to hear them. I have the same picture of my Uncle greeting the Pope on my wall here in Northern Virginia.

    Is there a way to get in touch with you?

    Respectfully,

    Frank Lane
    2955 Treadwell Lane
    Oak Hill Va 20171
    (703) 264 – 1174

  2. Frank,

    Nothing pleases me more than to connect with family members of the people I write about. Thank you so much for adding to my own memories of Father Klauder. You can find me at ggghostie@earthlink.net.

    Best,

    Kihm Winship (formerly of 1114 Englewood Ave)

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