In Memoriam -- Remembering Our Friends
Sylvia Klafki, a longtime parishioner who for many years oversaw the weekly after-Mass socials each Sunday at St. Leonhard’s and Holy Cross churches, died peacefully in her sleep on Jan. 25, 2024, and a Requiem Mass was celebrated in her honor at Holy Cross Church on Jan. 30 -- followed by a coffee hour with finger food that was put together by her friends on the Sunday social team. A native of Ajmer in the northwest Indian state of Rajasthan, Sylvia came to Germany some 45 years earlier at the suggestion of her sister, the late parishioner Esther Sorensen, and was a ground staff member of Air-India until her retirement about a decade before her death. Her work on the coffee socials included organizing teams of volunteers, implementing rules for the events’ smooth operation and obtaining supplies. She also volunteered and occasionally ran the parish’s food stand at the Corpus Christi festival at St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral in downtown Frankfurt, an important fund-raiser for our community. She will be deeply missed by her friends and family. She is survived by her nephews Nicholas and Dennis Sorensen and their families. A Requiem Mass will be offered at Holy Cross Church at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, with our parish priest, Father Christian Enke, presiding, with our former parish priest, Steven Forster, concelebrating.
The following is a eulogy from another of our former parish priests, Monsignor Stephen Alker, that Father Forster read as part of his own remarks at the Requiem.
I was saddened to hear of Sylvia's death but we all know she had grown very frail in recent times and, in a way, it is now a blessing that she has gone to God.
What a wonderful person she was! Her personality was so colourful which matched her often colourful clothing! My mother, Alice, admired how Sylvia dressed and we all loved those big dangly earrings!
Sylvia was always able to cheer people up and she was a tremendous asset to St Leonhard's. We all know she worked so hard doing the 'behind the scenes work' for many faithful years. She was generous in the extreme and would often bring food and sweets for the children and even liquor when there were festivals. She often invited people to her home for fun lunches and generously hired the restaurant below her apartment to entertain friends.
She also loved news - or should I say - a little bit of gossip in the nicest way! She was acutely aware of all that was going on.
To me personally, she was very kind. I will never forget, after my three monthly fasting diabetic blood-letting sessions with a nearby doctor, how she generously invited me back to her place for breakfast. Always thoughtful of others, she always provided Heinz baked beans, which she knew was my favourite breakfast with toast.
The parish has lost a kind, fun and energised Christian woman who is irrepplacable. I send my sincere condolences to you all and especially to Nicholas and Dennis, her nephews. You are often remembered in my prayers and Masses and I thank God for you all - including the lovely Sylvia.
May she rest in peace.
The Right Reverend Monsignor J. Stephen Alker MBE
Dr. Klaus Walch
Dr. Klaus Walch, a founding member in 1995 of St. Leonhard's International English-Speaking Roman Catholic Parish -- one of the two predecessor communities forming today's International English-Speaking Parish -- died on Jan. 1, 2024. Klaus's work with us included leading a ministry to visit English-speaking prisoners at local penitentiaries and compiling an oral history of the parish. His ashes were interred at Frankfurt's Hauptfriedhf (main cemetery) on Jan. 19, 2024, and the Vigil Mass on Saturday, Jan. 20 at St. Leonhard's was offered in his memory. The following is a eulogy at that Mass from Parish Council President Tom Lavell.
As we commemorate Klaus this evening, it’s fitting that this weekend’s Gospel reading is the story of the disciples responding to Jesus’s invitation to follow him. Klaus’s work with St. Leonhard’s English-Speaking Parish in its early days has enabled people from around the world to continue to hear Jesus’s Word when they come to Frankfurt with little to no knowledge of German.
Klaus was part of the Frankfurt Catholic community that persuaded the Diocese of Limburg to establish the parish 29 years ago when the U.S. military’s chapel of St. Sebastian closed. He was a member of the early Parish Councils that shaped what is now the International English-Speaking Parish.
In addition to his ministry to visit foreigners in jail here – an appropriate mission, as St. Leonard is the patron saint of prisoners – Klaus prepared an oral history in advance of the parish’s 20th anniversary. That book, co-authored by Patricia O’Callaghan, is entitled “Diversity in Unity,” and it reflects our community’s openness to all Catholics, wherever they come from and whatever their background. In that spirit, let our grief at Klaus’s passing be tempered with gratitude. Let us continue his legacy with our work to sustain this thriving parish.
Parish Council President Nancy Clements died peacefully in her sleep on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, and a Requiem Mass was held for her at Holy Cross Church on Sunday, March 13.
Nancy was an active and beloved parishioner for nearly 20 years. After moving to Germany in 1994, she began attending Mass regularly at St. Leonhard’s in 2004, where she very quickly found her spiritual home.
Over the years Nancy was very involved in parish life and volunteered whenever and wherever she could. She was elected to the Parish Council in 2011 where she served as co-vice president for the next 4 years, before being elected Parish Council President in 2015. She was elected to a second term as President in 2019. In the last 5 years Nancy also held the position of Parish Ministry Coordinator for Holy Cross and St. Leonhard’s.
Nancy was a very private person and did not wish to share the severity of her illness with many in her last weeks. Still, it must be said that Nancy loved our Parish dearly, always referring to this community and all our parishioners as “my family”. She said that she had gotten so much more from our parish than she could ever possibly give back and in one of her last conversations with Father Christian, she told him: “Please tell everyone that I love them.” Nancy left behind two sons in the U.S.A., Mark and Steven, along with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
For the Parish,
Father Christian Enke, Parish Priest
Lori Bemb, Pastoral Associate
Damian Gerstner, Parish Council Vice-President