The Rev. Henry Harper, Josephite priest, dies

He was associate pastor of St. Peter Claver Roman Catholic Church

April 04, 2011|By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun

The Rev. Henry Robert Harper, a Josephite priest who was an associate pastor of St. Peter Claver Roman Catholic Church, died March 29 at the University of Maryland Medical Center of complications from a fall he suffered at his West Baltimore church rectory. He was 86.

Born on St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, he was the son of a physician and a rear admiral in the Navy's 3rd Medical District. He was educated in parochial schools in Washington, D.C., and was a 1942 graduate of the Georgetown Preparatory School. He entered the seminary at the old St. Charles College in Catonsville and later studied at St. Mary's Seminary & University in Roland Park. He joined the Josephite order and was ordained at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in 1950.

Father Harper was pastor and associate pastor in numerous parishes over 60 years, including posts in Texas, Louisiana, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

In 1963, he became an associate at St. Francis Xavier Parish in East Baltimore. He then worked in other cities and returned here in 1988.

He had been associate pastor of St. Peter Claver Church on Fremont Avenue in West Baltimore. He also was a chaplain at the Joseph Richey House, a Eutaw Street hospice, and held a weekly Bible study group. He was also associated with the old St. Pius V Church on Schroeder Street.

"He was especially attentive to the needs of the St. Peter Claver Church neighborhood," said a fellow Josephite, the Rev. Edward Chiffriller of Baltimore. "He had a door ministry for anyone who knocked. He had a compassionate ear and a sandwich ready for the poor and marginalized."

Father Harper was recognized and honored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Virginia and by the Harris County Community Action Association in Houston.

A Mass was offered Saturday at St. Peter Claver.

Father Harper is survived by nieces and nephews.

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