Monsignor John Reinsfelder, 84, led Frostburg parish for many years

August 31, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Monsignor John Reinsfelder, who served two South Baltimore Roman Catholic parishes after heading a Frostburg church for nearly a quarter-century, died Wednesday at St. Joseph Medical Center of an infection and complications from a fall he suffered in April. He was 84.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Highlandtown, he attended Sacred Heart of Jesus Parochial School before graduating from Calvert Hall College High School in 1942.

He earned a degree from Loyola College and completed his theological training at St. Mary's Seminary in Roland Park. He was ordained by Archbishop Francis P. Keough in 1949 at the Basilica of the Assumption.

His first assignment as a priest was at the old St. Paul's Church at Caroline and Eager streets, where he remained for 17 years. He was briefly assigned to St. Mark in Catonsville, before being named pastor in June 1967 at St. Mary Church in Lonaconing in Western Maryland.

After a fire partially destroyed St. Michael Parochial School in nearby Frostburg, Baltimore's Cardinal Lawrence Shehan asked him to become that parish's pastor and oversee fund raising to rebuild the school.

"He did this right away, and today it is the only parish-sponsored Roman Catholic pre-K through fifth-grade school in Allegany and Garrett counties," said Monsignor Paul A. Byrnes, who succeeded him and preached at his funeral yesterday at Holy Cross Church on West Street in South Baltimore. The Mass was attended by more than 50 priests and five bishops.

Well known in Frostburg and Cumberland, and often seen on his daily visits to nursing homes and hospitals, he was named a monsignor in 1982.

"He was a man without an agenda. He was completely at the disposal of his parishioners. He never said no to their spiritual needs," said the Rev. Michael Roach, pastor of St. Bartholomew Church in Manchester. "He was deeply revered by priests and people in every corner of the archdiocese."

Monsignor Reinsfelder retired from the Frostburg parish in 1995 and moved to Baltimore's Federal Hill, serving as an assistant pastor at Holy Cross and St. Mary Star of the Sea parishes. Although he drove a car, he often walked throughout the neighborhood and the Inner Harbor on his way to visit elderly residents in senior apartment houses.

"He was a beloved person whom I never heard complain," said the Rev. Stephen E. Hook, associate pastor of Holy Cross and St. Mary parishes. "He never stopped working."

Monsignor Reinsfelder also said Masses at University Specialty Hospital on South Charles Street until his fall in April after returning from a visit to an elderly friend.

He is survived by two sisters, Anna and Catherine Reinsfelder, both of Baltimore, and nieces and nephews.

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