By TAMI QUIGLEY Staff writer
This June marked a milestone in the life of the former Paul Klucsarits, as he was ordained to the priesthood as Benedictine (OSB) Father Linus Klucsarits in St. Bernard’s Abbey Church, Cullman, Alabama.
Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham, Alabama ordained the parish son of the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown to the priesthood at the June 3 liturgy. Father Linus is a member of St. Bernard’s Abbey.
“I love being a monk and a priest, and I have never been happier,” said Father Linus. “It took me a long time to find my home but God has been so good and led me to where I belong.”
Father Linus is the son of the late William and Alice (Nilan) Klucsarits. He has four siblings: David Klucsarits, George Klucsarits, Ann Fitzgerald and Margaret Best.
Father Linus attended Cathedral School and is a 1983 graduate of Allentown Central Catholic High School (ACCHS).
“I was an altar server and sacristan at the cathedral,” said Father Linus. He said working with priests like the late Bishop (then Msgr.) David Thompson, Msgr. James Reichert and Msgr. Dennis Hartgen “really gave me a positive idea of priesthood and led me to consider a life in the church.”
Father Linus joined St. Bernard Abbey in 2011 and took solemn vows in 2015. Prior to that he had a career working with the deaf and hard of hearing before entering the monastery. Father Linus was a tenured professor of Sign Language Interpreting and ran the Interpreter Education Program at Camden County College, Blackwood, New Jersey for 13 years.
Father Linus was also a certified sign language interpreter with certification in interpreting and transliterating. Since being at St. Bernard he earned a master of arts degree in education with a focus on teaching English as a second language from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He enjoys gardening, doing cross-stitch and running. In 2015 he completed his first full marathon and has run several half-marathons.
Reflecting on his vocation journey, Father Linus said he had thought about being a priest while in school and entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia right out of high school for the Diocese of Allentown.
“After finishing my first four years with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy I was unsure about what God was calling me to do. I decided to leave the seminary and pursue a career working with the deaf and hard of hearing,” Father Linus said.
“In 2004 I investigated religious life and was attracted to the Benedictine way of life, particularly the vow of stability. Benedictines do not move from place to place but rather attach themselves to one particular monastery.”
He first joined St. Vincent in Latrobe, then “I found my home at St. Bernard.”
“At the abbey I am the assistant headmaster at our school and I am in charge of the middle school,” Father Linus said. “On weekends I go to local parishes to help out. I also do some gardening.”
“Father Linus and I have known each other since our freshman year at ACCHS in 1979,” said Msgr. Andrew Baker, rector and vice president of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland. A priest of the Diocese of Allentown, he is former pastor of the cathedral.
“We have stayed in touch and been friends for these many years. While our paths to the priesthood were quite different, nevertheless we now have a new bond as not just friends but as brother priests.”
Msgr. Baker said it was providential that he became pastor of the cathedral, Father Linus’ home parish, where Father Linus was an office attendant and a member of the bishop’s team of altar servers when he was in high school.
“I was able to minister to his father before his death and also offer Father Linus the opportunity to stay at the cathedral for a few weeks while he completed credits for his Clinical Pastoral Experience at Phoebe Nursing Home in Allentown in preparation for his ordination. In many ways his family and parish helped nurture his vocation,” Msgr. Baker said.
“I was blessed to be able to spend a couple of days at St. Bernard’s Abbey. I thoroughly enjoyed joining the Benedictine monks for the chanting of the Liturgy of the Hours, Mass and meals.
“The ordination Mass was very dignified and beautiful. I could see in Father Linus the joy of finding and saying a complete selfless ‘yes’ to his vocation as a priest in service to his community. He seems very happy and at great peace.”