December 20, 2016 // Local

Diocese mourns Father Kenneth Sarrazine

Father Kenneth Sarrazine

“I like everything about being a priest. My priesthood is a great gift from God!”

These were the words of Father Kenneth Sarrazine as he entered retirement from the priesthood in 2012. Father Sarrazine passed away on Saturday, Dec. 17, at the age of 79, just five days shy of what would have been the 54th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

A Fort Wayne native, Father Sarrazine was born to Norman and Florence (Bowers) Sarrazine. He is the oldest of six brothers and three sisters. As a child, Sarrazine attended St. Louis Academy at St. Louis, Besancon Parish.

Father Sarrazine’s discernment of the priesthood began at a young age. When he was in just sixth grade, he heard a talk from Msgr. Joseph Hession describing the difficult days in the seminary. Young Sarrazine took this as a challenge and began to think about the priesthood. His discernment continued in eighth grade, when he attended a retreated facilitated by a Precious Blood priest. In a 2012 interview with Today’s Catholic, Father Sarrazine shared, “When I told my parents the priesthood was something I would like to look into, they immediately took me to the pastor and discovered a bus trip had been scheduled in two weeks to Wawasee seminary for youngsters interested in learning more about the priesthood.”

Father Sarrazine attended Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Norwood, Ohio, and Our Lady of the Lake Seminary, Wawasee and was ordained a priest on Dec. 22, 1962, by Bishop Leo A. Pursley in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Fort Wayne. Why in the month of December? As it turns out, Bishop Pursley thought that he would be in Rome in the spring of 1962 for a session of the Second Vatican Council. He rescheduled that year’s ordinations for December, when he knew he would be in Indiana.

Father Sarrazine’s first assignment in June 1963 was as an assistant at St. Vincent de Paul, Elkhart. Ironically, the pastor at the time was Msgr. Hession. His pastoral assignments included assistant at St. Henry Parish, Fort Wayne (1964), and St. Jude, South Bend (1965), St. John the Baptist, New Haven (1972) and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Fort Wayne (1975); pastor at St. Martin de Porres, Syracuse, along with St. Francis Xavier, Pierceton (1976); St. Joseph, Mishawaka (1980), St. Henry, Fort Wayne (1991); and St. Joseph, Roanoke and St. Catherine of Alexandria (1998). He was appointed chaplain of Lutheran hospital, Fort Wayne, in 2003. Father Sarrazine also served as an advocate for the tribunal for a time. He retired from the priesthood in 2012 and resided at St. Anne Home and Retirement Community in Fort Wayne.

Kay Schneider, director of religious education for 14 years at St. Joseph, Roanoke, and St. Catherine, was also principal for three years under Father Sarrazine at St. Henry.

“I don’t think I have ever met more of a kind-hearted person,” she said. “He was a delight to work for. Whenever I thought we needed to change something, I went to him and he supported me. And he was so generous with everyone,” she recalled.

A Mass of Christian Burial, officiated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, will be at 11 a.m., Friday, Dec. 23, at St. Louis Besancon Church, 15535 Lincoln Highway East, New Haven. Visitation will occur an hour and a half prior, as well as from 2 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 22, at the church, with a rosary at 4:30 p.m. Father Sarrazine will be laid to rest in Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne.

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