St. Florian parish honors tenure of outgoing pastor
The Rev. Richard P. Karenbauer grew up on a farm in the pastoral, Butler County village of North Oakland.
“I was the oldest of nine children,” said Karenbauer, 70. “Mom and Dad needed the farm to feed us.”
Such an upbringing was one of the reasons why Karenbauer said he considered his 2010 appointment as pastor of St. Florian Church in rural United, Mt. Pleasant Township, to be “a welcome change.”
“There were farms here and there were farms where I came from,” he said. “For 23 years prior to that, I was in towns.”
On Wednesday, Karenbauer will officially retire as pastor of St. Florian.
Following the Mass he gave Sunday, parishioners there honored him with a reception to celebrate his tenure, which began in 2010 at the direction of Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt of the Diocese of Greensburg.
Many parishioners, including parish Sacristan Marge Klimchock, spoke highly of the man they called Father.
“Father Karenbauer was always a very kind man to me. He was very generous with his prayers and he was a very good Catholic leader,” said Klimchock, 82, of United.
The feeling is mutual, Karenbauer affirmed.
“I enjoy this parish very much. It's a wonderful parish,” he said. “The people here are very gracious and very faithful.”
Prior to his arrival at St. Florian, Karenbauer served as pastor of St. Mary of Czestochowa Parish in New Kensington from 1997 to 2008. From 2008 to 2010, he served as pastor of St. Joseph Parish, also in New Kensington, and as administrator of St. Mary of Czestochowa.
The Very Rev. Larry J. Kulick, Vicar General Moderator of the Curia and Acting Chancellor of the Diocese of Greensburg, recalled his time as a parishioner at the former St. Martha Parish, which was located in Leechburg, where Karenbauer served as pastor from 1987 to 1997.
“When Father Karenbauer was at St. Martha Parish during those 10 years, he was extremely supportive of me in my vocational discernment and then in my period following priesthood ordination (in 1992),” Kulick said. “He had a keen sense for the dignity and the nobility of the liturgy.”
In 2008, St. Florian Parish became a territorial parish which welcomed parishioners from St. Stanislaus Parish in Calumet and Forty Martyrs Parish in Trauger, two parishes that closed that year.
In such a time of transition, Karenbauer credited the guidance of prior pastor of St. Florian — the Rev. William C. McGuirk — with easing his transition into the post there.
“Father McGuirk was very gracious to me, and he made things easier for me,” Karenbauer said. “He was very kind.”
Jerry Yasher — who served as chairman of the committee to organize St. Florian's 100th anniversary celebration from 2010 to 2011 — spoke highly of Karenbauer's ability to lead a parish in flux.
“Father Karenbauer helped stabilize the parish. He helped the parish become one parish, from three to one, and he did a very good job of that,” Yasher said. “He was able to stabilize the financial situation and today we have a very solid financial parish, so you have to give him credit.
“He's leaving the parish in the right way. Hopefully, the bishop replaces him with someone who will have as positive an impact and as positive an attitude.”
On Karenbauer's retirement, Yasher added that he hopes he gets some much needed rest with his cat, Homer.
“There's no doubt that the parish and the parishioners wish him nothing but the best in his retirement.”
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.