The Register

 

August 10, 2018

         In this issue.

  • Ordination will be live on Aug. 22.
  • Fr. Loren Werth, 87, served the diocese 62 years.
  • Fourth generation baptized in St. Boniface church, Vincent. 

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Father Loren Werth, 87, served diocese for 62 years

The Register

Manhattan — In an overflowing church, surrounded by family, brother priests, community members, parishioners and friends, the life of Father Loren Werth, who was a priest for the Salina Diocese for 62 years, was celebrated.

Father Werth, 87, died July 30, 2018.  The Funeral Mass was celebrated Aug. 3 at St. Thomas More Church in Manhattan — the church where he was the founding pastor.  Diocesan Administrator Father Frank Coady was the principal celebrant at the Funeral Mass, and noted the following day was the feast of St. John Vianney.  “He was a priest not particularly known for his intellectual acumen,” Father Coady said. “(St. John Vianney) struggled in the seminary with his subjects, but he was such a deeply  human man that he connected with people. People stood in line for hours to go to confession to that priest.”

Father Coady said like St. John Vianney, Father Werth was deeply human and connected with a variety of people in his parishes and communities.  “It isn’t what you know when you are ordained that matters,” he said. “It’s what you do after that.”  Father Coady said when Father Werth was a seminarian from 1946-1956, the seminaries were not accredited institutions as they are today.  “He continued to read, he was faithful to going to continuing education, to retreats and to listening to tapes,” Father Coady said. “He kept himself up on theology and the Church.” 

Father Coady said sometimes Father Werth would joke about ‘getting my GED’ so he would have a formal degree.  Yet he loved to discuss the faith.  “Most recently, I remember he was the last two times he wanted to talk, it was about the decreasing numbers in the Church,” Father Coady said. “That bothered him deeply. He wanted to talk about ‘What did we do wrong that caused this?’ And ‘What can we do now to improve the situation?’ I don’t know that we came up with answers, but we talked about it.”

 

Father Coady pulled from the Gospel, Luke 24, that tells of two disciples on the road to Emmaus, who encounter Christ. Yet they do not recognize Jesus until they break bread with him.  “My favorite line from the gospel is ‘Weren’t our hearts burning within us as he explained the scriptures to us?’ ” he said. “I think that Father Loren’s heart was burning for his whole life. His soul was burned by the Scriptural truth, the Scriptural word.”

Father Coady said everyone is called to marry their own humanity with God’s divinity through the sacraments.   “That’s the duty of a priest above all — to witness to that in our bodies, in our lifestye, in our preaching, in our ministry, in the way we hear confessions, in the way we anoint the sick,” he said. 

As he aged, Father Werth developed macular degeneration, which inhibited his ability to read, and eventually drive his beloved 1963 VW Beetle.  “On Saturday night, he would concelebrate (Mass), but from right down there because he couldn’t navigate the stairs,” Father Coady said. “He was still here last Saturday night, holding court in the gathering space after Mass.”

The second reading was from Romans 8: “For those who are led by the spirit of God are children of God (Rom 8:14).”  “St. Paul remind the Romans that all creation is groaning, longing deeply for the salvation, the redemption of the physical universe,” Father Coady said. “But Paul says each of us in our own bodies, we are groaning in agony, expecting and waiting in hope for that redemption.  “I think Father Werth was filled with hope, not that he would recover from his illnesses. It was hope in what happens next. It was hope in the redemption of his body forever.”

Father Werth is survived by a sister, Jean Pfannenstiel of Salina.  He was preceded in death  by his parents and an older brother and sister.  He was born Oct. 16, 1930, to Edward and Sophia (Herklotz) Werth in Schoenchen. He went to St. Anthony Grade School in Schoenchen and two years of Schoenchen High School before attending high school and college at Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo. He was ordained May 26, 1956, by Bishop Frank Thill at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

  • His pastoral assignments were:1956, parochial vicar at St. Francis Parish in Norton. 
  • 1958, pastor of St. Michael Parish in Kimeo and its mission St. Bernard in Clara. 
  • 1960, pastor of St. Theresa Parish in Mankato and its mission St. Francis Parish in Claudell. 
  • 1966, pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Washington and SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Morrowville. 
  • 1970, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Concordia. 
  • 1981, founding pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Manhattan. 
  • 1991, pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in Osborne and its mission St. Mary Parish in Downs. 
  • 1994, pastor of SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Clay Center and its mission St. Anthony Parish in Miltonvale until his retirement to Manhattan in 2000.

He was buried in Schoenchen.