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Former cathedral rector Father William Kauffman dies at 67


Dialog reporter


Father William B. Kauffman, a former Lutheran minister who was ordained a Catholic priest for the Diocese of Wilmington in 1990, died unexpectedly July 27 at his home in Rochester, Minn. He was 67.

Father Kauffman was raised in Waynesboro, Pa., and served the Lutheran church until 1986, when he began studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore. After ordination, he served as an associate pastor at Holy Cross, Dover, and St. Peter Cathedral, Wilmington. He was named rector of the cathedral in 1995.

Fr. William Kauffman is the Chaplain of the Apostleship of the Sea at the Port of Wilmington. The Dialog/Don Blake

In addition, he served as chaplain of the VA Hospital in Elsmere and was associate pastor at nearby Corpus Christi. For several years, Father Kauffman was chaplain of the Port of Wilmington, where he ministered to sailors from many countries whose work brought them through Delaware.

Father Kauffman told The Dialog in 2001 that his work at the port gave him a sense of the “catholicity” of the church.

“Most of the ships docking here come from Catholic countries in eastern Europe, the Philippines and South America,” he said.

He was drawn to the seafarers, he said, “by their real sense of Catholic devotion. Their faith is so real to them. It gives them strength.”

He also served as chaplain at Father Martin’s Ashley in Havre de Grace, Md., and at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md.

At Father Kauffman’s ordination, Bishop Robert Mulvee read the priest’s request to be ordained as part of his homily. In it, Father Kauffman referred to his Lutheran background.

“The Holy Spirit led me on a long spiritual journey that brings me to this most joyful day of my life, ordination to the priesthood,” he wrote. “I heard the call at a very early age, but it has taken me half a lifetime to learn what it means to risk, to put oneself completely in his hands.”

His journey was one of happiness, but it made visible “a great tragedy; namely, that Christians are not yet one, that the church remains divided. … God’s holy word calls us forward to work for unity among all who proclaim Jesus as Lord.”

An avid musician, Father Kauffman graduated from Gettysbug College with a degree in music education.

Services were Aug. 7 at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Waynesboro. Burial was in Grindstone Hill Cemetery, Waynesboro. Donations in his name can be made to St. Andrew Catholic School, 213 E. Main St., Waynesboro, PA 17268.

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