Lennie Klein

Lennie KleinLennie Klein died on December 4 after a courageous battle against cancer. His wife and children were at his bedside when he died, which might sound odd since he was a Catholic priest. But Lennie was the first and only married man to be ordained a Catholic priest in the state of Delaware.

He married his wife Christa in 1969, and they had three children and seven grandchildren. The first thirty years were spent as a Lutheran minister. But in 2003 he and Christa both converted to Catholicism, and soon afterward the Vatican granted him permission to enter the seminary. On April 1, 2006 he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Wilmington.

Both as a Lutheran minister and a Catholic priest, Lennie was known for his intellect, writing and speaking on topics ranging from politics to the mysteries of faith. His mentor was Richard John Neuhaus, a renowned Christian intellectual and Lutheran minister who also converted to Catholicism, whom he first saw in 1964 at Yale when Neuhaus was invited by William Sloane Coffin, his comrade in the civil rights and antiwar movements, to speak on campus.

Like Neuhaus, Lennie was a progressive activist. And, like Neuhaus, he eventually fell away from progressivism and joined the traditionalist wing. He was a vocal supporter of the Pro-Life movement, serving as Director of the Office for Pro-Life Activities and Chair of the Respect Life Committee for the Diocese of Wilmington. At the time of his death, Father Klein was rector of the Cathedral of Saint Peter and pastor of Saint Patrick and Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception parishes in Wilmington.

“He’s been a tremendous gift to us,” said Bishop W. Francis Malooly. “He was a dedicated and committed pastor. I’ll remember him as someone who answered his calling. He’ll be truly missed.”