Rev. Kloman Riggie, 64, priest in Hagerstown, prison chaplain

December 07, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

The Rev. Kloman F. X. Riggie, pastor of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Hagerstown and former Maryland state correctional chaplain, died Monday of a heart attack while preparing for Mass. He was 64.

Father Riggie arrived in Hagerstown in 1966, when he became assistant pastor at St. Mary Roman Catholic Church. The next year, Cardinal Lawrence J. Shehan of Baltimore asked him to be the archdiocesan chaplain of the Maryland state correctional system. For 20 years, he served as a spiritual leader at the Maryland Correctional Training Center, the Roxbury Correctional Institution and the Maryland Correctional Institution.

He became pastor at St. Joseph in 1972.

Father Riggie, one of the first contacts that new inmates made after landing behind bars, was loved for the joy he brought to his work and his gift as a listener.

"We see a side of the prisoner's that the public never sees, and that's the human side," said Father Riggie in a 1985 interview.

At the prisons, he offered Sunday Mass and was available to inmates as they came and went from lunch. He arranged counseling sessions, was adviser to the prison newspaper, led study groups and was known as a stable and calming influence.

A short, heavy man with a crop of dark hair, Kloman Francis Xavier Riggie graduated from Loyola High School in 1951, studied at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg and was ordained in 1960.

He was born into a West Baltimore family that prided itself on its Lithuanian heritage and its cooking. His parents were Joseph C. Riggie and the former Mary Helen Sackalsoky, who owned Riggie's Bar across from Hollins Market.

Kloman decided early on to follow an older brother into the priesthood. He acquired his well-known cooking skills in the kitchen of the family saloon while watching his mother make crab cakes and other local favorites.

Growing up to be something of a gourmet, especially for the cuisine of the Chesapeake Bay, Father Riggie had a secret recipe for crab balls that he made for important events.

"I would often see him bustling through Union Square full-steam proclaiming, 'I'm on my way to Lithuanian Hall to get a food fix,' " the Rev. Michael J. Roach, a local Catholic priest, recalled. "He had a great priestly heart."

In 1995, in recognition of his work with prison inmates, Father Riggie was awarded the prestigious John Cardinal McCloskey Award by the National Alumni Association of St. Mary's College and Seminary in Emmitsburg.

The citation read: "His commitment has been unshakable, and his resolve unchanged."

Father Riggie was a former president of the American Correctional Chaplains Association, the American Catholic Chaplains Association and the Maryland Correctional Chaplains.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated by Cardinal William H. Keeler at 11 a.m. today at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, Virginia Ave. in Hagerstown.

He is survived by a brother, Edward J. Riggie of Catonsville.

Pub Date: 12/07/96

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