Christa Klein, president of In Trust, an association of boards in theological education, and a parishioner of Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington, received the Pope John Paul II Seminary Leadership Award April 10 from the National Catholic Educational Association.
Msgr. Jeremiah McCarthy, executive director of the NCEA Seminary Department, said, “Dr. Christa Klein is being recognized for outstanding efforts to assist theological schools in North America in strengthening structures of governance, most especially through the mentoring and education of boards of directors and trustees. The award recognizes her thoughtful care and attentiveness to the unique patterns of governance required for the administration of programs designed to form priests according to Roman Catholic ecclesial requirements.”
Klein, 67, said last week she feels “exceedingly honored” by the award and very touched by Msgr. McCarthy’s remarks in presenting it.
The NCEA also noted that In Trust, under Klein’s nine-year leadership, “has become the premier organization serving” theological schools, working with ecumenical sensitivity by attending to the “distinctive missions and purposes for Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox” schools.
That “ecumenical sensitivity” has been bolstered by the fact that Klein became a Catholic in 2003 with her husband, Father Leonard Klein, and their two daughters, Renata Klein and Maria Hollenbeck.
The family had been Lutherans. Father Klein, who had served as an Evangelical Lutheran minister, studied for the priesthood and was ordained for the Diocese of Wilmington in 2006.
Christa Klein, a former dean of continuing formation at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, said she will retire from her post in June. In her time at In Trust, she said it has helped members of seminary boards by encouraging them to develop strategic thinking for their institutions and, at times, recommending mentors to address a seminary’s needs.
In Trust has also published a magazine since 1989 that includes stories on models of governance and reaches 7,000 members of seminary boards.
“We believe stronger schools can translate into better education for clergy and lay people and produce better, effective ministry,” Klein said.
“In Trust has been blessed with some remarkable leaders. We know the magazine is widely respected. We know we have influence in helping these schools and people running them not to feel isolated.”
Klein said that since her husband has been administrator at St. Patrick’s and St. Mary of the Assumption in Wilmington, those churches are where they attend most of the time.
She lives with her husband, and their daughter, Renata, who works at St. Edmond’s Academy, in Wilmington. Another daughter, Maria Hollenbeck, lives in Charlotte, N.C., with her husband and three children. Their son, Nicholas Strauss-Klein, lives in St. Paul, Minn., with his wife and two children.