Father Edward Steinkirchner, 82 - Catholic Courier

Father Edward Steinkirchner, 82

Father Edward E. Steinkirchner, founder of the Diocese of Rochester’s Deacon Internship Program, died Jan. 18, 2007, at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Pittsford. He was 82.

“He was a rock-steady priest that could be depended on in good times and bad. He had a single-minded love and devotion for the Catholic Church and for service to the bishop,” recalled Father Steinkirchner’s close friend Father Timothy Horan, diocesan director of priestly vocation awareness and pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Irondequoit.

Father Steinkirchner grew up in St. Augustine Parish in Rochester, attending St. Augustine School and Aquinas Institute. He completed his seminary training at St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester and was ordained June 11, 1949, at Sacred Heart Cathedral by Bishop James E. Kearney.

He served as assistant pastor at Holy Trinity in Webster from 1949-51; St. Boniface in Rochester from 1951-57; St. Michael in Rochester from 1957-59; and Holy Apostles in Rochester from 1959-68.

In 1968, he was named pastor of Holy Ghost Parish in Gates, where he served until 1980. During his service at Holy Ghost, Bishop Joseph L. Hogan asked the priest to create a program to train seminarians in their pastoral years as well as newly ordained priests, recalled Father Peter Clifford, pastor of St. Michael Parish in Newark. So, in 1971, Father Steinkirchner founded the Deacon Internship Program, which he directed for 12 years.

“There was no template for this. Ed basically created it from whole cloth,” said Father Clifford, who served as a transitional deacon at Holy Ghost Parish in 1975. He described Father Steinkirchner as a very staid man who lived by regimented routines and possessed an impressive memory.

“The first weekend I was at (Holy Ghost), Ed stood at the door and literally called every man, woman and child who walked through that door by name. I just stood in awe watching,” Father Clifford said.

In 1980 Father Steinkirchner left his pastorate at Holy Ghost to become pastor of St. Michael Parish in Newark. He served there until his retirement in 1995, when Father Clifford succeeded him as pastor.

Father Steinkirchner also was extremely motivated and full of single-minded determination, Father Horan said.

“He would move people to achieve great things. He was a forceful leader,” he said.

Father Steinkirchner oversaw the renovation of Holy Apostles, Holy Ghost and St. Michael churches, and those buildings serve as a testament to his determination and skill as a leader, Father Clifford added.

“Those three churches were beautifully restored and renovated. He was very much a doer, and he would set about a project that he knew needed to be done,” he said.

Father Steinkirchner also was a warm, caring man who deeply loved the parishioners he served, Father Clifford said. A month before he passed away, Father Steinkirchner told Father Clifford that God had been very good to him, to which Father Clifford responded, “Ed, you have been very good to God.”

“Ed was a deeply faithful man. He knew God’s love in his life, and with great order and dignity he expressed the same love to those he served, whom he served faithfully,” he said.

Deborah Housel, diocesan pastoral-planning liaison, said Father Steinkirchner was the first person to encourage her to pursue her previous ministry as a pastoral administrator.

“He was a good mentor. Father Ed was always a very good supporter of anyone working in ministry, whether priest or lay, and he was a dear friend,” Housel said.

Father Steinkirchner is survived by his sister-in-law, Mary Steinkirchner, several nieces and a nephew.

Bishop Matthew H. Clark was scheduled to celebrate Father Steinkirchner’s funeral liturgy Jan 23 in the chapel at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse. Interment was to be at Holy Ghost Cemetery in Gates.

Contributions in his memory may be made to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester in care of Doug Mandelaro, 1150 Buffalo Road, Rochester, NY 14624.

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